The Greaterville area has a long and storied history of placer & hard rock mining. Placer mining has been done largely by small miners at first with rocker boxes and more recently with metal detectors. A large scale placer operation was attempted by the Santa Rita Water & Mining Company in the early 1900's. Their headquarters is now a Forest Service Heritage Site known as Kentucky Camp.

Most of the land in this area is now part of the Coronado National Forest. However, it was not always that way. In the early 1900's most of the land became patented. The Santa Rita Water & Mining company held the patents on about 3,000 acres of the best placer ground in the area. The company failed and the patented land remained in private hands until 1989 when the land was acquired by the US Forest Service through a land swap.

Placer Information
This information is taken directly from US Geological Survey Bulletin 1355, Placer Gold Deposits of Arizona, by Maureen G. Johnson, 1972.

The placers in the Greaterville district are found in streams that drain easterly from the Melendrez Pass area in the Santa Rita Mountains to the Cienega Valley. The deposits are in the southeastern part of T. 19S R.15E and in the southwestern part of T. 19S R. 16E. The gold-bearing gulches are, from north to south: Empire, Chispa, Colorado,Los Pozos, Hughes, Ophir, Nigger, and St. Louis Gulches, tributaries to Hughes; Louisiana, Graham, Sucker, Harshaw, Kentucky, and Boston. Placers were found not only in the gulch gravels but also in gravels on the hillsides and ridgetops between gulches.Hill (1910) describes the distribution of the gold-bearing gravels in each gulch in detail.

In general, the gold is found in the lower 2 feet of angular gravel overlying bedrock and underlying less rich gravels; in places, the gold was concentrated in natural riffles in the sedimentary bedrock.The gold recovered range in size from flakes to large nuggets. Hill (1910, p.20) states that the gold washed in 1909 ranged from small flakes to particles 0.1 inch in greatest dimension. Most of the largest nuggets were recovered during the early mining period in the district; at that time (1874-86) nuggets worth $1 to $5 (about 1/20 to 1/4 oz.) were common, and one nugget weighing 37 ounces was found.

Production History:
The early production is not accurately known. For gold recovered before 1900, estimates range from as high as one million to as low as $500,000. During the 20th Century the placers have been worked continually by many individuals using rockers. Much of the placer ground has been reworked several times, but a considerable of gold is said to remain in the gravels. Various attempts have been made to mine the gravels in different gulches using hydraulic or dredge mining methods, but thickness of overburden made large-scale mining unprofitable.

The placer gold was derived from erosion of free gold-bearing veins genetically related to a quartz latitie porphyry (dated at 55.7 m.y.) intrusive into Cretaceous sedimentary rocks. These veins are found near the heads of the gulches and have been mined for the gold content at the Yuba, St. Louis and Quebec mines.


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