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About Us » Writers » Frank Lorey III
Frank Lorey III
Frank is a Federal and State-registered Historian, and does archaeology work throughout the southwest.  He is also editor-in-chief of ASA Publications, and has written and/or edited 14 books, including one on mining history. 

Frank was a regular guest on the History Channel's Wild West Tech show for two seasons.  He also writes on World War II and aviation history for several other magazines, with over 350 published articles.

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Articles by Frank Lorey III
The Struggle to Reopen Alaska's Largest Gold Mine

The historical AJ mine, located east of Juneau, Alaska, was considered the largest gold mine in the state at one time. Joe Juneau and Richard Harris struck gold there in 1880, and it has been more recently known as a tourist destination.

November 2012 (Vol. 82, No. 3)
The Golden Streams of Butte County, California

Even though these were some of the earliest placer deposits to be worked, there is still plenty of gold left today—it just takes more work to recover. Knowing about the old locations where gold has been found is the first step to success.

May 2011 (Vol. 80, No. 9)
The Golden Days of Julian, California

Some scattered reports say that gold may have been washed from streams here as early as the 1840s, but the undisputed major discovery came in 1870.

October 2011 (Vol. 81, No. 2)
The History of Gold Mining in Sierra County

There may be some truth to some of the fantastic claims. The Ruby Drift Mine near Forest City is where 159 nuggets were taken out between 1937 and 1942—a total of about 1,000 ounces with an estimated value of $1.5 million when gold was...

February 2010 (Vol. 79, No. 6)
Gold of Plumas County

Plumas County has a rich heritage of gold mining, much of it from placer deposits that can still be searched and panned today. Being at the far northern end of California’s famed Mother Lode, it is quite often overlooked by those searching for gold today—really a well-kept secret after all of these years!

November 2010 (Vol. 80, No. 3)
The Gold of Yuba County

The Yuba County area of northern California is so rich in mining history that it should not be overlooked while exploring the potential placer mining locations. The incredible wealth that came from the myriad of placer deposits leads many to continue exploring the rivers and streams for more treasure.

April 2009 (Vol. 78, No. 8)
Benton’s Rich Silver

Prospectors looking for the next Comstock Lode tried mining for silver in the Benton Hot Springs area in California in 1862. On a ridge southeast of the town, they found what they were looking for—rich hornsilver.

October 2008 (Vol. 78, No. 2)
Life in the Alaska Gold Rush

The discovery of gold in the Klondike in August 1896 brought a rush that became a bonanza for a few, and hardship and disaster for many. The remoteness of the discovery site, and the extremely harsh climate made the effort to recover gold foolhardy for all but the most prepared.

July 2007 (Vol. 76, No. 11)
Remote Mining Camps of Yuma County

The remote desert of southwestern Arizona was an attraction only because of the gold and other minerals that were found there. Certainly the weather was not a draw! The early mining days were tough—the mines were a long way from supplies, and hostile Indians made travel in the area extremely dangerous.

October 2006 (Vol. 76, No. 2)
The Kern River Gold Rush

The tall grasses of the rolling foothills of eastern Kern County, California, hide traces of what was once a major gold rush.

December 2006 (Vol. 76, No. 4)
The Golden Highway—Nevada County

Highway 49—the “Golden Highway”—heads northeast out of Placer County into a stretch of Nevada County that is almost as busy as it was during the Gold Rush. The neighboring towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City are still booming—a beautiful location to live in the Sierra foothills.

February 2005 (Vol. 74, No. 6)
The Golden Highway—Calaveras County

Heading north along Highway 49 into the central Mother Lode, the first old mining town in Calaveras County was Melones, located along the banks of the Stanislaus River. The town was named for the unique coarse gold flakes found in the gravels that resembled melon seeds, hence the name that came from the Mexican miners.

January 2004 (Vol. 73, No. 5)
The Golden Highway—Amador County

Leaving sprawling Calaveras County, California, and heading north, the next county along the Golden Highway (Hwy 49) is tiny Amador County. Packed into it’s roughly twenty-five mile stretch of the historical roadway are some of the most charming, scenic towns that will be encountered along the whole way. This stretch was also home to some of the richest gold placers during the gold rush, a fact not lost on those who still try their hand at panning and dredging today.

April 2004 (Vol. 73, No. 8)
Historical Mining Methods

The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848 started the great gold rush to California. The account that drew national and worldwide notice was a small, two-inch item at the bottom of the front page of the March 15, 1848 issue of the “Californian,” published in San Francisco. The article was attributed to B.R. Buckelew, and mentioned quantities of gold just being “gathered.”

May 2004 (Vol. 73, No. 9)
The Golden Highway—El Dorado County

Continuing northward and crossing the Consumnes River along California’s famed Highway 49, the “Golden Highway” leads through the heart of the Mother Lode countryto El Dorado County. This is where the Gold Rush began...

August 2004 (Vol. 73, No. 12)
The Golden Highway—Placer County

Leaving El Dorado County and crossing the middle fork of the American River, the next county along Highway 49, the “Golden Highway,” is Placer County. The county also owes its name to the mining heritage of the gold rush.

November 2004 (Vol. 74, No. 3)
Mariposa, California

The sleepy town of Mariposa, known more today as one of the gateways to Yosemite National Park, was once considered the southern end of the famed “Mother Lode” gold deposits that stretched hundreds of miles throughout California’s Sierra...

April 2003 (Vol. 72, No. 8)
The Golden Highway—Tuolumne County

Heading north into Tuolumne County on California’s Highway 49—the “Golden Highway”—from Mariposa County, you see few traces of the gold rush days because the largest mining town of the period is now covered by Don Pedro Reservoir. If you slow down and take a careful look, along the shores of the lake are numerous streaks of tailings that mark the mines of the old town of Jacksonville.

October 2003 (Vol. 73, No. 2)
Mojave Desert Placer Mining

Several locations in the Mojave Desert region of California have yielded placer gold, apparently scattered from nearby lode deposits that have long-since eroded from existence. Some of the areas are still popular with weekend prospectors, and some have been worked on a much larger scale in recent years.

March 2002 (Vol. 71, No. 7)
Golden Age of Gold Dredges

Over one hundred years ago, gold mining in California saw a radically new method tried out in the major rivers of the Central Valley. Large gold dredges floated lazily but noisily on the waters, bringing up the rich gravel from deep below. With none of today’s environmental restrictions on such methods, the landscape was reworked into a maze of patterns along the rivers.

June 2002 (Vol. 71, No. 10)
Ghost Towns of Washington County, Utah

As people race by on Interstate 15 through the southwestern portion of Utah, they miss many relics of early silver mining and agricultural days hidden just off the freeway. Washington County had a rich mining and farming history dating back to Civil War times, and there are some that believe it still holds some hope for future mining.

October 2002 (Vol. 72, No. 2)
San Diego County Tourmaline

San Diego County, California, has long been considered the finest source of pink tourmaline in the world. The Pala, Mesa Grande, Rincon, and Ramona districts in the northern portion of the county have produced tourmaline, kunzite, and other gems in great quantities, much of it jewelry and museum-quality specimens.

June 2001 (Vol. 70, No. 10)
Harshaw's Silver Days

In the Patagonia Mountains east of Nogales, Arizona, between the famed ruins of Mowry and the quaint old mining supply center town of Patagonia lies the remains of Harshaw, once a thriving mining camp in its own right.

June 2001 (Vol. 70, No. 10)
Arizona's Border Silver Camps

Not much has changed along the original stage road that runs easterly from an old schoolhouse northeast of Nogales into the Patagonia Mountains of southern Arizona. Marked on the maps as Duquesne Road, the route has been in use for over 130 years, climbing from the hot desert floor to an almost 6,000-foot elevation pass before dropping back down the eastern slope of the mountains to reach the old mining camps of Washington, Duquesne, and Lochiel.

July 2001 (Vol. 70, No. 11)
The Spanish Silver of Mowry

The Arizona mine and town that eventually became known as Mowry actually started with the discovery of a rich ledge of silver by either Spanish Jesuit priests or Spanish soldiers around 1736.

August 2001 (Vol. 70, No. 12)
Montana's Virginia City Has Golden Legacy

The discovery of gold at Alder Creek, centrally located in Madison County, Montana, was unusually well documented, with the date and time placed at May 26th, 1863, at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. A group of six miners had been searching the area with little luck until the leader, Bill Fairweather, spotted an exposed area of promising bedrock. He dug up a shovel full of dirt and put it in Henry Edgar’s pan for washing. About the same time that Edgar was busy washing out the pan, Fairweather was poking around the bedrock with his pocketknife. Both spotted the color of gold at once.

December 2001 (Vol. 71, No. 4)
Mogollon—New Mexico's Remote Gold Camp

Silver Creek, in New Mexico's Catron County, is a narrow defile in the Mogollon Mountains. Known to be the home of fierce Apache bands, gold and silver veins were waiting there for an adventurous, if not foolish, prospector.

January 2000 (Vol. 69, No. 5)
El Paso Mountains Mining History

The El Paso Mountains of California are located in the extreme northwestern portion of the Mojave Desert, between Highways 14 and 395, about twenty miles southwest of China Lake. The area is rich in mining history, not far from the great Randsburg district gold mines that are still producing today.

April 2000 (Vol. 69, No. 8)
125 Years of Mining History in the Panamints

Two years after California's major gold discovery, another find was made in Ballarat, Australia. The news of the discovery went world-wide, and many of the California prospectors had heard plenty about Australian gold—especially the 2,284-ounce nugget found there.

August 2000 (Vol. 69, No. 12)
History of Mining—Bradshaw Mountains, AZ (Part I)

The Bradshaw Mountains, southeast of the old territorial capital city of Prescott, contain traces of many old mines and the railroads that were built to serve them.

November 2000 (Vol. 70, No. 3)
History of Mining—Bradshaw Mountains, AZ—Part II

Last month, the earliest mining areas of the Bradshaw Mountains around Prescott, AZ, were explored in the first part of the article. The Lynx Creek and Walker areas still provide many opportunities for weekend prospectors...

December 2000 (Vol. 70, No. 4)
Randsburg—Still Going Strong

Soon after the rich gold discoveries at Ballarat, near Death Valley, prospectors fanned out all over Southern California's Mohave Desert. Minor discoveries were made in many dry washes, gullies, and desolate areas, but no discovery has had the impact of the one that Frederick Mooers, John Singleton, and Charles Burcham, made in 1895.

June 1999 (Vol. 68, No. 10)