The Sky Blue mine and its 1860s origins

Author: Jeremy Tuggle – Education and Community Engagement Manager – Shasta Historical Society

In 1863 Colonel William Magee, a noted surveyor, miner, prospector, and resident of Shasta, California, located the quartz vein of the Original Sky Blue mine of the Middle Creek mining district.

After an examination of this vein, gold was extracted from it which yielded some lucrative high-grade gold that assayed well. After that Magee called it the Sky Blue and he began transitioning it into a quartz mine with a main haulage tunnel, winzes, raises, and drifts. This mine was situated on the east bank of the Sacramento River, just below Waugh’s Ferry. One of the best featured uncovered was an imposing ledge of gold & copper ore.

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On April 8, 1863, Magee established the Sky Blue Ledge Company, of which he was the sole owner. Two years later, articles of incorporation were filed at Shasta for the Original Sky Blue Ledge Company by Colonel William Magee.

This company held its business meetings at Shasta. J. Van Schaik, another Shasta resident, was hired by Magee as superintendent at this mining property, and soon additional miners were employed to assist with the work. The first orders given by Magee were the existing haulage tunnel he had previously created. Later, additional extractions of gold and copper were made within the mine once they ran a drift back sixty feet and struck the main quartz vein.

Above: An advertisement for the Sky Blue mine by the Original Sky Blue Ledge Mining Company, from the Shasta Courier newspaper edition of July 23, 1864

The nearest stamp mill to the Sky Blue mine was the Pioneer Mill which was located on Spring Creek. The original Sky Blue Ledge Company negotiated a contract with the Pioneer Mill for the purpose of crushing their rock. Over 200 tons of rock at the Sky Blue mine was ready to be crushed by the powerful stamps. This rock contained excellent deposits of gold. The original Sky Blue Ledge Company and the Pioneer Mill finalized the contract that month for future shipments which were hauled to their mill by teams.

Other equipment that the Pioneer Mill owned was a small, crude quartz crusher and a ball mill from which it obtained particles from crushed quartz.

During the 1870’s ownership of the Sky Blue mine passed into the hands of Joseph Waugh, a resident of Middle Creek, who was the owner of Waugh’s Ferry.

In May of 1875 there is a record of this claim in the Index To Mining Claims Book I, It appears there were two additional Sky Blue mines in Shasta County at that time as well which were recorded as being near the town of Buckeye, in the Old Diggings mining district.

During October of 1878, assessments claimed that the rock from Waugh’s mine would pay him $300 per ton. Waugh became rich off this lucrative mining property. Years later, E.P. Connor, a local miner and prospector, acquired the Sky Blue mine, and on June 21, 1890, the Free Press newspaper of Redding reported the following:

The Sky Blue mine above Middle Creek, owned by E.P. Connor promises to be one of the choice mining properties of the county. He has a shaft down 25 feet on a rich pay chute of rotten quartz, and rusty gold very rich. He proposes to run the old Sky Blue tunnel some 400 feet and tap this chute at a depth of 260 feet. The nature of the country is such that the mine can be opened up at a comparatively small expense.

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In 1902, the Sky Blue mine was purchased by the Redding Gold & Copper Mining Company for $20,000. The owner and president of this mining company was Thomas Gilbert. Other mines in Shasta County were included in this transaction and they were La Plant and Bedford Group near Keswick; Stabler group near Centerville, White Group near Igo.

Gilbert and his mining company began making plans to build a reduction-works on the Sky Blue mining property. The group still had ownership of the mine in 1906 and they held onto it until 1910 when the Redding Gold & Copper Mining Company sold it to W. Oberlin and R.F. Lind –  natives of Ohio. The total amount of the purchase price was not released. After this time the Sky Blue mine became idle.

RESOURCES:

  • Sky Blue Ledge Company – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, April 11, 1863
  • Organized – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, April 11, 1863
  • Leg Broken – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, May 21, 1864
  • Delinquent Notice – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, June 18, 1864
  • Spring Creek Mill – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, June 18, 1864
  • Spring Creek Mill – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, June 25, 1864
  • Original Sky Blue Quartz Mining Company (advertisement) – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, July 23, 1864
  • Original Sky Blue Quartz Mining Company (advertisement) – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, February 18, 1865
  • Incorporated – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, February 25, 1865
  • Index to Mining Claims Book 1 – page 238, Sky Blue mine, dated May 7, 1875
  • The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, October 26, 1878
  • Joe Waugh – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, November 9, 1878
  • The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, November 23, 1878.
  • The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, December 7, 1878
  • Joseph Waugh’s Quartz ledge – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, December 21, 1878
  • The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, January 18, 1879
  • Mining Notes – The Free Press newspaper of Redding, June 21, 1890
  • Crossed Over the River (Joseph Waugh obituary) – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, March 12, 1892
  • Mining and Scientific Press Volume 85, 1902, page 226
  • Mines Register: Successor to the Mines Handbook and the Copper, 1906, Volumes 6-7 by Horace J. Stevens, page 851
  • The Engineering and Minining Journal Vol. LXXXIX, January to June 1910. Published by Hill Publishing, New York
  • Short Talks With Busy And Women – The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, May 23, 1912

Meet the writer: Jeremy M. Tuggle
Education and Community Engagement Manager – Shasta Historical Society

Jeremy M. Tuggle, born in Redding, is a descendant of 11 pioneer families who settled Shasta County between 1849-1889. Jeremy attended Shasta College and is the author of two published books, Rooted in Shasta County (2003), and A Journey Through Time: Ono and the Bald Hills (2008), as well as various articles on local history.

In 2017 Mr. Tuggle was awarded a Community Service Award, a prestigious national award for community service in historic preservation, by the Major Pierson B. Reading Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Jeremy is a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of California, and an Eagle Scout.

Tuggle has been employed at the Shasta Historical Society since November of 2009.   In his present role as Education & Community Engagement Manager, Jeremy conducts research for the historical society’s programs and events, contributes to the Society’s social media presence, and ensures the highest quality guest and patron experience at our programs and community events.

Mr. Tuggle enjoys sharing his knowledge of local history and events, and is available to community organizations to present programs about Shasta County history.  




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Contact the editor: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.

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