Chapter one of life on the Merced River at Bagby in the late 80'S earl 90;S


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Well I guess I should start this, with how I ended up at Bagby.

I was a longhaul truckdriver, for a company out of Dallas Texas, owned mostly by Lady Bird Johnson, we had many Gov. Contracts and hauled Class A explosives and Oilfield rigs.

I hauled many a load of pipe to alaska on the pipeline, and lots of Military stuff, including parts of the Space Shuttle into Cape Kennedy.

I went to work for them soon after I got out of the Army in 73 and loved every minute of it. I was mostly on there heavy haul division, and carried oversized loads, Well in 87 I fell off a high load, and had to have my neck fused together, , I had to get off the road for a year, to let it heal. I took my Works Comp. settlement, and bought a motorhome, and a old GMC pickup truck to tow behind, came to calf.

I had always been into panning gold and prospecting even before I went into the Army. I was not married at that time, so I bought a brand new 5 inch dredge from a keene dealer in Fresno, and w2ith my money I had left, moved to Bagby to dredge full time.

At that time, Bagby was privately run, by Bill Brosoius, He was retired from the film bussiness, And it was a great place to be.

On the weekends, Bagby would fill up, there would be two hundred people camped in there dredging mostly, and just camping. The river was so dry, you could drive in a 4x4 down stream, almost two miles in the river bed. Gold was a plenty!

I camped in the front campground, and put my 5 inch dredge in just below where I parked my motorhome, I'll just say the first year, I pulled out enogh to get by on, only dredging a few hours a day. The second year, well I hit a clay seam, that was my jackpot. 20 oz's of gold, but nothing over a half oz.

More on this later. I have more for this chapter. Grubstake

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More on Chapter one.

Well as I said, I hit a clay seam that I got 20 oz's out of, I sold it as I got it, to pay expences, In the winter, all would leave except for me and a few others, that were also full timers. Instead of Dredging, I'd walk up river and metaldetect, I was pretty lucky at that also, finding nuggets and coins from the 1800's, The second summer of Dredging, was pretty bad for me, I moved my dredge half a dozen times trying to find a good pat streak, not much luck. Nothing like the 20 oz seam I had hit the summer before. Well I ended up selling my motor home and buying a small 18 ft trailer, and Bill the owner, had told me he like me to help him out running the place, I took the job, got free electric and sewage, and a pay check every two weeks, I had two days off a week Monday and Tuesdays, our slow days, I would open the storer at 6 am a nd close it at 8 pm, My duties were running the store, collecting camping fee's and dredging fee's, dumping the garbage cans in both campgrounds, and pumping gas and taking inventory for the store, I was made an officer of the corperation, and had it pretty well made.

We had lots of regulars, some would come in and spend all summer, others would put there dredges in, and come from as far a way as Texas stay a weekend or two, leave and come back in a month or so. For the most part we had a great bunch, everyone looked out for each other, But we did have trouble on and off, with weekenders.

Mostly it was drunks, or fighting, or jumping in someones dredge spot above them, so we put a 100 yard rule into effect, you couldn't dredge above someone else within a 100 yards. It worked out just fine. More on the people in Chapter two. Grubstake

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More on Chapter one.

Well as I said, I hit a clay seam that I got 20 oz's out of, I sold it as I got it, to pay expences, In the winter, all would leave except for me and a few others, that were also full timers. Instead of Dredging, I'd walk up river and metaldetect, I was pretty lucky at that also, finding nuggets and coins from the 1800's, The second summer of Dredging, was pretty bad for me, I moved my dredge half a dozen times trying to find a good pat streak, not much luck. Nothing like the 20 oz seam I had hit the summer before. Well I ended up selling my motor home and buying a small 18 ft trailer, and Bill the owner, had told me he like me to help him out running the place, I took the job, got free electric and sewage, and a pay check every two weeks, I had two days off a week Monday and Tuesdays, our slow days, I would open the storer at 6 am a nd close it at 8 pm, My duties were running the store, collecting camping fee's and dredging fee's, dumping the garbage cans in both campgrounds, and pumping gas and taking inventory for the store, I was made an officer of the corperation, and had it pretty well made.

We had lots of regulars, some would come in and spend all summer, others would put there dredges in, and come from as far a way as Texas stay a weekend or two, leave and come back in a month or so. For the most part we had a great bunch, everyone looked out for each other, But we did have trouble on and off, with weekenders.

Mostly it was drunks, or fighting, or jumping in someones dredge spot above them, so we put a 100 yard rule into effect, you couldn't dredge above someone else within a 100 yards. It worked out just fine. More on the people in Chapter two. Grubstake

Dern you Grub...

Your making me really kick myself for not persuing detecting/mining through the 90s and 2000s...but, im glad dad and I are

back into it and were having a blast now :)

Tom H.

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Good stuff Gary,

I still a D&B 5-inch dredge in storage in Mt. Bullion with my friend John Burton.

MAN I would like to drop it into the Merced again.

I dredged up near Briceberg for four summers and I miss it still.

Never found a piece over a 1/4 of an ounce, but it was great dredging.

Keep up your recollections, they're fun.

Flak

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