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Located in the ruining district known as Cracker Creek, lies the Columbia mine, one of the oldest properties in Baker county. Prospected first by the Cable Brothers, in the early eighties, it has passed through a succession of development stages until today it stands among the first properties of the country. Surrounded by all the necessary elements for successful mining ore, water and timber, the question of its future success seems one of magnitude merely.
The property, which now consists of nine quartz and five placer claims, is owned and operated by a corporation known as the Columbia Gold Mining Co., of which Mr. Frank S. Baillie is managing director. This corporation since its organization two years ago, has systematically developed and operated the property, making it one of the most steady producers of concentrates and bullion which exists today in Baker County.
The mine, under the direction of Mr. R. J. Eckman, has been opened and developed by three tunnels and a shaft, giving a depth of six hundred and fifty feet on the ledge at the present time. There are now over three thousand feet of tunnels and cross cuts, together with a double compartment shaft two hundred and twenty feet deep. This shaft is completely equipped with a hoisting plant and ore is now being raised from the lowest level. The ledge varies in width from seventy-fire feet near the surface, to forty-four feet at the lowest level. The walls which stand at about 80 degrees form a true contact vein–quartzite on the foot wall and slate on the hanging. The intermediate portion of the ledge is low grade: butt for an average width of six feet on the foot and four feet on the hanging a high grade ore is encountered. With depth the free gold which exists in such a large percentage gradually disappears, and the sulphurets become heavier and more easily concentrated. Enormous bodies of ore are blocked out for future working and the entire work of past development has been planned with a view to future extensive working, which the ore bodies warrant. The mine is splendidly equipped for economical working, having trams, cars and blacksmith repair shop, together with it complete saw mill, where all the lumber needed on the property is manufactured. Owing to the complete equipment at hand the deep snows of winter do not hinder work in the slightest still with large storage bins for ore, continuous operations exist during the entire year.
The mill, which was built in the year of 1896, is under the direction of Mr. F. H. Nettleton. This mill consists of a test stamp battery, amalgamating plates, two Johnson concentrators, four Frue vanners, besides a canvass table plant. The mill is arranged for the automatic handling of the ore after it leaves the rock breaker. After the tailings leave the vanners they are run over canvass tables, where a second concentrate is made, after which the tailings leave the mill and are banked. Water power is utilized to run the mill for four months of the year, the remainder of the season steam is used to aid one water, which decreases to about 15-horse power, with the present development, in the dry season. A complete electric light plant of 210 light capacity is installed, lighting mill, shaft house, mine and houses. The mill has a secondary rock crusher which is used to crush and prepare for shipment high grade ore. The mill is soon to be replaced with one of greater capacity and different character.
The assay department is under the direction of Mr. A. C. Redding, where daily assays are made from mine and mill samples. Careful cheeks are kept upon mine and mill work, and the results are carefully prepared each day for the various departments.
Under the present scheme of working forty men are employed constantly at mill and mine. The location is unsurpassed for health, being beautifully located in one of the canyons of Fruit Creek; warm In winter and cool In summer, it forms an Ideal spot for the mining mail.