Happy to help, Rookieminer. It wasn't a fun post to write. Since you seemed appreciative, I thought I'd do the "Paul Harvey" rrrrrrrrrrrrest of the story deal, and type up the rest of the skinny on GPAA/LDMA joint outtings...at least 2 of them I attended.
I remember my first invitation as a new GPAA'er to an LDMA spring outing (Burnt River, $150 a head, plus food and fuel from Portland OR) and putting a pencil to it, trying to determine the financial bottom line if I found some and if I didn't.
Truth be told, our "common-dig" highbanker which we ran for 5 hours shifts 2 days in a row, didn't have a single smidgin of gold in it. Not one speck. There were over 80 in our shift, and we hung off a steep, STEEP hillside, passing 5 gallon buckets hand over hand for 5 hours straight, down to the highbanker which was running "balls to the walls" as far as water speed was concerned. We tried dialing it back so the gold would have a chance, and then some LDMA type overseer would swing by every half hour or so, and crank it back up to full-out as far as water feed was concerned. Not a stinkin' piece. And it was one of 3 units running. It was embarrassing, and hot and tiring to get skunked.
LDMA saw the handwriting on the wall, and bought an ounce from one of the vendors. (The vendor ratted 'em out.) When Sunday morning "split" came around, people came out of the woodwork and lined up for their share, having done not one lick o'work, let alone get skunked doing shoveling and bucket brigading. There was a headcount. 550 people at Burnt River claim that year for that outing. *Times $150 minimum if not a family membership, and $75 individual if already an LDMA member.) This was in 1996, yes, 15 years ago.
Women and children who had spent the entire 3 day weekend either knitting in their tents or mobile homes, with young ones playing "chase" through the campsite -- driving everyone batty with their unleashed dogs---were in line for their share, b/c they'd paid a family membership price to attend. I was fried.
Standing there in the line for 3 hours, we snaked our way along with 547 other "numbers" to the clubhouse where a couple pair of sawhorses were set up with plywood stretched across them. On top of the plywood were faded numbers scrawled on top, corresponding to numbers in a hat from which one drew their number when it was one's turn at the head of the line to get their "split."
The LDMA brass walked you over to the plywood, picked up a tiny medicine cup like they serve pills to you in the hospital in, which was sitting on top of "your number" and handed the contents to you. No, you don't get to keep the cups. (They gotta use'em again, savin' all that wasted money, y'know. ) Unless you were one of the lucky first 10 numbers who all got a picker, they handed you a 1"x1" ziplock baggie with 1/2 teaspoon of blacksands in it, from the dinky cup, and that was "your split."
I immediately went back to my tent and panned the B/s. NOTHING. Not even a piece of birdshot. ZIP. NADA. NUTTIN"!!!!
I can't tell you how disappointed I was. And so were the other 2 ladies I talked into coming out and doing this with me. We all got skunked. And sunburnt. And skitter bitten. I did buy a new gold pan, and a couple new snuffer bottles. And I got to hold a 60oz Australian piece of gold on display from the very same vendor LDMA bought the ounce of gold from for the "split." My friend took my camera and snapped a picture of me holding that big, beautiful nugget. So, I thought I at least had a momento.
Only when I got home did I realize I didn't have any film in my camera.
I tried a second time, down at SCOTT RIVER when LDMA bought it, the very first year. Thought I'd do better. I don't even want to tell you what happened at THAT dig. It was worse, if you can believe that. It was so bad, in fact, that Wilma Massie (may she rest in peace) apologized in person at the first Boise GPAA gold show for how we were personally mistreated by the camp hosts and the one-armed know it all hotshot/newbie dredger who showed up. Didn't even end up with a 1/2 t. blacksand baggie for that long haul and common effort.
To make matters worse, the older couple camping next to us at the SCOTT RIVER LDMA campe, yes, in the "motorhome section," had just come from Italian Bar...which ALSO had been opened first time after LDMA bought it. They were all jazzed to be at SCOTT River next on their itinerary, b/c of their success at I.B. They had no less than 4 oz of gold to show us for their being in the first group of intrepid folks who winded their way down that steep draw to Italian Bar camp on its first "common/dig" event. They said several folks found over an ounce that weekend in '97 at Italian bar.
And they also said, that after they made such a haul, Tom and Perry came in with their 5" dredge and cleaned out the gold for themselves. And, that they were never going back there after observing that. That was the end of Italian Bar being any good.
So, that's the truth about at least 2 events, plus all my working at Valentines for 3 years prior to LDMA purchasing Blue Bucket from Pat and Roy Valentine.
OHHHHHHHHHH....and the rest of the story on Burnt River common dig? There were 3 guys who worked the gully with their backpacker dredge where our highbanker spilled into down at the bottom of that steep hillside I mentioned we were all draped all over in "S" curve fashion for 2 days, 10 hours per day? THEY MADE OUT LIKE BANDITS! Talk about the "rrrrrrrrrrrrrest of the story!!!"
PS>....I edited from Rogue River to Scott River. 4LuvOfGold helped me corrected my mistake. THANKS, J!