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Discovery of Gold on Caribou Mountain
Gold was discovered on Mt. Pisgah (now Caribou Mountain) in 1870 by Jesse Fairchilds or "Cariboo Jack", an itinerant miner who gained his name in the Cariboo Mining District of British Columbia. A typical western gold rush followed. Two good-sized towns, Carriboo City and Keenan, grew up close to each other on the mountain, which looms above Grays Lake Valley to elevation 9,803 feet. Both cities were deserted after a few years but mining has continued sporadically to the present. About one million dollars of gold was taken from the area, mainly by placer methods, with the associated ditches and pipelines to supply water to the mines. Two hand-dug ditches,with a length of about 7 miles, rimmed Caribou Mountain.

John Codman, describing events on August 5 and 6, 1874, Idaho Yesterdays,1976, v. 19, no. 4, p. 19-20.

"The gulch (at Carriboo) is away back in the pine forest,and the sight is very romantic. The placer miners were at their work, and near by among the trees several log-cabins, tastily decorated with spruce boughs, and some very spruce young women too, the wives and daughters of the miners around them."

After ascending five hundred feet we came to patches of snow. Above them it was beautifully green with pines and grass, and just where gold was "struck," halfway to the summit, there was a great, wide, grassy lawn,looking as if it had been laid out by a landscape-gardener. On the edge of this, among the pines, were the huts of the prospectors, made of bark and pine boughs, and having a very tasty appearance.

We were on the highest peak of the range, and looked down upon lesser mountains of snowy summits, and over them all beyond the valleys near us,into valleys in the far distance, tracing the Snake and Blackfoot Rivers for at least a hundred miles...The extent was so great that even the beauties and grandeur of the Yosemite were eclipsed by the magnificent panorama.

If I was asked what miners lived upon I should answer, "Whiskey and hope."

China Hat, a rhyolite dome, intruded about 100,000 years ago in the Blackfoot Lava Field north of Soda Springs. Immediately beyond China Hat is China Cap, and North Cone is to the north of it. Both of these are also rhyolite domes. View looks north to the Blackfoot Reservoir and Pelican Mountain. The town of Henry is just out of the photo in the right distance, (May, 1992).
Click here for a larger view
Gold mines of Cariboo (carriboo or Caribou) Mountain, from Idaho Yesterdays, 1976, v. 19, no. 4, p. 10. Click on image for a larger view

Report of Gustavus C. Doane's Military Expedition from Star Valley to Carriboo Mountain, December 16-22, 1876:

December 16th. We were moving at the break of day. Weather bitterly cold. Were obliged to build fires whenever we stopped to rest to prevent our feet from freezing. The snow was knee deep on level ground and crusted so that the leader on the trail had to break through at every footstep.We alternated at this labor. Could not make over a mile an hour. About noon we reached an ice bound creek which empties into the Snake from the Southeast (sic, southwest actually), the river channel having turned northward.This creek (mcCoy Creek) showed signs of placer washings and we followed it.