Welcome Guest – Charlene Raddon!!!

Placer Mining

Gold is found in tough clay. To dissolve the clay the miner fills a pan made of sheet-iron or tinned iron, with a flat bottom about a foot in diameter, and sides six inches high, inclining outwards at an angle of thirty or forty degrees. At a river bank, he squats down, puts his pan under water, and shakes it horizontally. Once the mass is thoroughly soaked, he picks out the larger stones, mashes up the largest and toughest lumps of clay, and again shakes his pan. When all the dirt appears to be dissolved, allowing the heavier gold to move to the bottom, he tilts up the pan a little to let the thin mud and light sand run out, until he has washed out all except the metal, which remains in the pan.

The arrastra, a Mexican contrivance, rude, but effective, was used in the early days to pulverize the ore. Winnowing, or “drywashing” was also practiced by the Mexicans where the ore was found too far away from a sufficient supply of water to make any other practice possible. The wind bears away the dust and light particles of earth, and leaves the gold dust, which is heavier.

The rocker resembles a child’s cradle. On the upper end is a riddle, made with a bottom of sheet-iron punched with holes. This is filled with pay dirt and rocked with one hand, while, with a dipper, the miner pours water into the riddle with the other. Being agitated, the liquid dissolves the clay and carries it down with the gold into the floor of the rocker, where the metal is caught by traverse riffles, or cleats. The mud, water, and sand run off at the lower end of the rocker, which is left open. The riddle can be removed, allowing the miner to throw out the larger stones mixed with the clay.

The chief want of the placer miner was an abundant, convenient supply of water not always readily available. One resolution was an artificial channel about two miles long. After eight years, six thousand miles of mining canals supplied water to all the principal placer districts of Nevada and furnished the means for obtaining the greater portion of the gold yield.

Where the surface of the ground furnished the proper grade, a ditch was dug. Where it did not, flumes were built of wood, sustained in the air by framework that rose sometimes to a height of three hundred feet in crossing deep ravines, and extending for miles at an elevation of 100-200 feet. Aqueducts of wood, and pipes of iron, were suspended upon cables of wire, or sustained on bridges of wood; and inverted siphons carried water up the sides of one hill by the heavier pressure from the higher side of another.

In Nevada, a total length of 6,000 miles of canals and flumes were created. The largest mine, the Eureka, had 205 miles of ditches, constructed at a cost of $900,000. As placers were gradually exhausted, the demand for water and the profits of ditch companies decreased. Flumes, blown down by severe storms, carried away by floods, or destroyed by the decay of the wood, were not repaired.

The sluice was a broad trough from 100-1000 feet long, with transverse cleats at the lower end to catch the gold. With a descent of one foot in twenty, the water rushes through it like a torrent, bearing down large stones, and tearing the lumps of clay to pieces. The miners had little to do save throw in the dirt and take out the gold.

In Hydraulic mining a stream of water is directed under heavy pressure against a bank or hillside, tearing the earth down and carrying it into the sluice to be washed. The force of a stream of water rushing through a two-inch pipe, under a pressure of two hundred feet perpendicular caused hills to crumble as if piles of cloud blown away by a breath of wind. When dried by months of constant heat and drought, the clay becomes so hard, not even the hydraulic stream, with all its

momentum, could steadily dissolve it. Often the miner would cut a tunnel into the heart of his claim, and blast the clay loose with powder, so that it yielded more readily to the action of water.

The erection of a long sluice, the cutting of drains (often necessary to carry off the tailings), and the purchase of water from the ditch company, required capital; and the manner of clearing up rendered it impossible for workers to steal much of the gold. Thus, the custom of hiring miners for wages became common in placer diggings.

Even today, men continue to search for gold and some manage to find enough to keep them going. Others give up and return home. I found gold once, at Knotts Berry Farm in California. I was eight years old. I wish I still had that miniscule vial of gold flakes, but it was lost long ago.


Priscilla is Book 1 in The Widows of Wildcat Ridge Series. It is on preorder now and will be released on 9/15. There will be 17 books (or more) released the first and fifteenth of each month. Book 2, Blessing, by Caroline Clemmons is also up for preorder. There are ten authors: Charlene Raddon, Caroline Clemmons, Zina Abbot, Tracy Garrett, Christine Sterling, Linda Carroll-Bradd, Pam Crooks, Kit Morgan, Margaret Tanner, and Kristy McCaffrey. The series is about a Utah gold mining town in which the mine has been destroyed, killing off most of the men and leaving the women and children destitute and at the mercy of a greedy mine owner who also owns the town. To save their town they must remarry. Forty-six strong, determined women set out to save their town and find love at the same time.

After losing her father and husband in a mine disaster, Priscilla Heartsel faces poverty and eviction from her home by a heartless mine owner. Tricked into a bank robbery gone wrong, Braxton Gamble finds himself shot and unconscious in Priscilla’s bed. Can they survive long enough to find a love more precious than gold?


Charlene will be giving away two e-books.
One will a be copy of her brand new release – Priscilla (delivered 9/15).
Another will be the winner’s choice of any of her backlist titles.
You can find all of her books listed on her website
Leave a comment for a chance to win!

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36 thoughts on “Welcome Guest – Charlene Raddon!!!”

  1. I was familiar with some of these methods but not all. I tried panning once and it is a lot of work. Over time, it would mess with your back.

  2. What an interesting and informative post. What an intense endeavor mining was. But well worth the work when they hit gold.

    • Few of the men who went prospecting found enough gold to become rich. It’s the same story since time began. 15% of the people who set out to get rich did. The rest just suffered. The men who did best, other than the ones who struck it rich, were the store owners. Some of them became wealthy selling equipment to prospectors and miners. Glad you stopped by, Carol.

  3. Very interesting post Charlene. I have never heard of the rocker so I found that very interesting. I love the cover of your new book and would love to read it. Thanks for the great post.

  4. This has promising! A slew of authors, characters, a villian, many heroines in need of men. I think I’d really enjoy this series! I hope I win, I’ve yet to read one of your books and a giveaway is an awesome way to find an author to add to my go to authors list.

    • I hope you do try and enjoy our series, Stephanie. It’s not the usual series because the books are all coordinated, so characters from one book appear in others, as do events. It’s been a lot of work with a bunch of outstanding, cooperative authors but worth it.

  5. Wow, I never knew so many mining methods existed. Fascinating! I used to live in Beckly, WV, lots of mining there in the area.

    • Yes, you do have lots of mining in Beckly. Lots of disasters in those mines in WV. Coal mining was the most dangerous of all mining. Three times as many men died in coal mine disasters as in hard rock mines. Glad to meet you, Deanne

  6. I’m so excited to be a part of this fun series with you, Charlene! Series are super-hot with readers right now – especially the shorter books like ours will be. Every book will have its own tone and flavor – and of course, romance!

    We hope all our P & P readers get hooked on the books. They’re affordable, great reads by bestselling, award-winning authors and feature women who overcome adversity.

    What’s not to love, eh?

  7. I’ve learned so much about mining over the last few weeks just reading everyone’s research plus my own. This is going to be a great series, and like Pam, I’m so happy to be a part of it Charlene! I’m sure out readers are going to love it!

  8. I’m with Pam. I’m excited to be a part of this series. Charlene is leading us out in style!

    Thanks for the great information, Charlene!

  9. What a great post, Charlene! I’m definitely going to bookmark it. I loved the early version of Priscilla I read, and I think readers will too. I’m pleased as punch to be involved in this series. You set the bar high for the rest of us!!

  10. Hi Charlene……I’m a little late to the party. Welcome. Love your blog. I always wanted to pan for gold but never got the chance. Maybe one day. I’m so excited about your new series. Priscilla and Braxton sound like they’re made for each other. I can’t wait to read this and all the other books too.

    • Linda, my dear, dear friend. Always so good to hear from you. Time is drawing near and I’m getting rattled. Still so much to do. Yikes! Keep your fingers crossed all comes out well.xo

  11. Hi Charlene, I enjoyed your post and I look forward to The Widows of Wildcat Ridge Series. Thanks for sharing.

  12. War and disasters often leave areas with lopsided populations. Drastic actions are sometimes needed to balance things once again. After the Civil War resulted in fewer men back East, many women became mail order brides. The situation in PRICILLA and the rest of the series is similar. This sounds like it will be an interesting series. I am curious to discover how these women find new husbands and fathers for their their children.
    Thank you for an interesting post. I was familiar with most of the mining methods, but not necessarily the full details of how they operated.

  13. That’s a very informative article, Charlene. I didn’t realize there were so many types of mining or the terms used. Thanks for enlightening us.

  14. So many ways to mine and your just talking gold or minerals. Many jewels are mined in many different ways too. Thanks for sharing.

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