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Welcome to Offbeat Oregon History, a public-history resource for the state we love. Here's what you'll find here:

  • A weekly newspaper column published in about a dozen Oregon community newspapers;
  • An archive of columns we've published since 2008, with pictures (arranged by date of first publication);
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Enjoy! And if you have any comments on stories, suggestions for column topics or other feedback — or if you're coming by the OSU campus and have time for a cup of coffee with a fellow history dork — drop me a note at fj-@-offbeatoregon-dot-com any time!

About Pulp-Lit Productions:

Offbeat Oregon is a division of Pulp-Lit Productions, a boutique publishing house that specializes in classics from the pulp-magazine era — roughly 1910 to 1941. For more information or to check out our catalog, please see pulp-lit.com.

 

Background photo of the beach at Whale Cove was made by Bryce Buchanan in 2004. (Via WikiMedia Commons, cc/by/SA)

 

 

RANDOLPH, COOS COUNTY; 1840s, 1850s:

Is treasure of lucky beach gold miners still out there?

By Finn J.D. John
May 1, 2022

IMAGINE YOU'RE A gold prospector from the Willamette Valley, on your way to the California gold fields in the first year of the 1848 gold rush.

You’re a little late to the party, and you’ve chosen to try to reach the gold fields in a somewhat unusual way: By going over the Coast Range to the beach, and traveling south along the coast.

As you make your way southward by the great ocean, you reach a broad expanse of black sand. And when the sun hits it just right, you can see it’s actually glittering … with tiny flakes and grains of gold.

An aerial photo of the town of Gold Beach, at the mouth of the Rogue River, probably made sometime before the Second World War. The Rogue is the source of the gold-bearing black sands on the nearby beaches, after which the town was named. (Image: Postcard)

You’re all alone on the beach. There aren’t even any other footprints. Apparently nobody else was crazy enough to try to travel to the gold fields via Coos Bay. Everyone else in the area, such as there are, has decamped inland to the gold fields.

It’s just you, on the uninhabited edge of a continent, crunching a trillion dollars’ worth of gold under your feet.

 

This article is still under its initial two-month embargo, during which participating newspapers have exclusive rights to it. Then the rest of this article will appear here!

In the meantime, you can probably find it published on the Website of one of our member newspapers or community radio stations. Thanks for your patience, and thanks for supporting your community newspapers and radio stations!

(Jump to top of next column)

This image was published in Harper’s Monthly Magazine in 1856, showing gold miners working sluices on the beach near Randolph. (Image: Harper’s)

(Sources: Lost Mines and Treasures, a book by Ruby El Hult published in 1957 by Binford and Mort; “Beach Gold Diggings,” an article by Cain Allen published on the Oregon Historical Society’s Website in 2006)

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