LYNX CREEK PLACERS
Physical features: The Lynx Creek placers are in central Yavapai County, along Lynx Creek from near Walker, 7 miles southeast of Prescott, to its junction with Agua Fria Creek, 13 miles east of Prescott.
Lynx Creek, which flows northward between foothill ridges of the Bradshaw Mountains, and northeast and eastward through conglomerate terraces of Lonesome Valley, has an approximate length of 18 miles. Since it extends between elevations of about 7,000 and 4,600 feet above sea level and drains a large, high region, it receives a considerable amount of water each season and is perennial in its upper, pine-wooded course. At Prescott, which is about 5 miles west of the creek at an elevation of 5,320 feet above sea level, the normal annual fall of rain and snow water is 18.52 inches, the highest temperature recorded was 105 degrees, and the lowest 12 degrees below zero.
Early history and production: According to former State Historian Hall, lo the Lynx Creek placers were discovered in 1863 by a party of California miners headed by Capt. Joe Walker. As the news of their discovery filtered back to California, the number of placer miners on Lynx Creek increased to 200 or more. Active work, with hand rockers, pans, and small sluices, continued along the stream for several years before exhaustion of the richest gravels.
Like most placers of the Southwest, unfortunately, no records of the early-day yield are available, but Lynx Creek is noted as one of the most productive gold-bearing streams in Arizona. Raymond reported its 1874 production at $10,000, and Hamilton estimated the total prior to 1881 at $1,000,000. According to A. C. Gilmore, of Prescott, about 100 men were working the Lynx Creek placers prior to 1885, and some of them recovered about $20 per day. W. R. Shananfelt, of Prescott, stated that one man recovered $3,600 in eleven days from the lower reaches of the creek.
Dredging operations: In the late eighties, B. T. Barlow-Massick built a small dam above the present Prescott-Dewey highway bridge, installed a few miles of 30-inch pipe, and did some hydraulicking, but a flood destroyed the dam. About 1900, the Speck Company tried out an old dredge a short distance below the bridge, but the roughness of the bedrock there prevented its success. Later, G. S. Fitzmaurice operated this dredge farther down the creek, but, after recovering about $800 worth of gold, the dredge fell apart. A large patented gold-saving machine was tried out nearby at about this time, but also without success.
In 1927, Lynx Creek Mining Company attempted large-scale operations with a moveable plant consisting of an Insley excavator, a Barber Green stacker, screens, and sluices. During 1932 a California-type dredge was installed in the lower Lynx Creek placer area, on the G. S. Fitzmaurice property, below the dam. The dredge was 50 feet long by 35 feet wide by three stories high and had a capacity of 100 cubic yards per hour. It drew 30 inches of water and normally required about 85 gallons of new water per cubic yard of gravel treated. Approximately twenty men were employed to conduct the operation three shifts per day.
Calari Dredging Company operated this dredge during March-July, 1933, and in sixty-one days treated 60,000 cubic yards of gravel which yielded approximately 32 cents per cubic yard. In June of that year, the dredging was being carried on to an approximate depth of 6 feet. The gravel, as mined with a ,2-yard draghne shovel, was. passed through a 10-inch grizzly, then through a trommel wlth a 5-16-inch screen, whence the oversize went to a stacker, and the undersize into a sluice equipped with 400 square feet of angle-bar riffles.
Of the total gold in the gravels, from 85 to 90 per cent was extracted. It ranged in size from flour up to fragments 0.1 inch in diameter and was accompanied by abundant black magnetic sand.