The placer ground around Elk City is a very rich gold area in Northern Idaho. Gold can be found all throughout this area, with extensive dredging operations taking place on the Clearwater River, American River, and Red River. Elk Creek was also well known for its rich placer deposits.
Gold panning in the creeks and rivers around Elk City will still produce some nice gold today, just as it did for the early prospectors during the 1800s.
The placer mining was really the life of this district for many years, with rich gold found all throughout the stream gravels around Elk City. Miners worked the placer ground for many years, and then Chinese miners continued to extract gold from this district after many of the white men moved on to richer ground.
Some of the richest areas that contain rich placer gravels around Elk City are Buffalo Gulch, Telephone Creek, Whitaker Creek, Baboon Gulch and countless other gulches around the small mining town. The ground on Ericson Ridge, Little Elk Creek, and Swale Creek, along with nearly all of the drainages that feed the American River contain gold. Southeast of Elk City on Mother Lode Hill, Big Horse Ridge, and Blue Ribbon Mountain gold can be found, as well as Red Horse Creek.
Lode mining came secondary to the rich placers here, but the Buster Mine, Sultan Mine, and Alamance Mine produced gold just outside of town. The potential places to look for gold area endless in this area.
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On the Red River just south of Elk City, many miles were worked with bucket line dredges
. Hydraulic mining was also used extensively in many parts of this area, just as it was in so many other mining areas throughout Idaho.
In addition to the Red River, placers were worked at Siegel Mine, Galena Creek, Cole Creek, and many others. Some of the richer areas were worked over completely by the white miners who first arrived, and then later reworked by Chinese miners. It is not uncommon to find small placer diggings throughout this country where a miner prospected for a short time and then moved on.
The amount of gold that the old timers needed to find to stay interested what a lot more than the modern day gold miner would need with today’s high gold prices. Even these seemingly small prospects can be quite rich if you find the right one.