Liberty in Kittias County, WA., is the center of a year around recreation area. Hunters, rockhounds, campers, snowmobilers, bikers all find Liberty one of their favorite places.
One of the more important attractions to Liberty is the lure of GOLD. Gold was discovered on Swauk Creek almost by accident when a prospector from the Okanogan mines camped there and while dipping water from the creek found a nugget. This happened more than 100 years ago and gold is still being found on Swauk Creek and its tributaries.
Gold is found in the form of nuggets and the highly prized wire gold. This is also one of the few places in the world where gold may be found in its crystalline form.
The area shows evidence of many geologic changes over the centuries. That this area was once a lake is shown by the sandstone and shale common throughout the area and by conglomerate formations near the summit of Blewett Pass. These were deposited some 50 million years ago. Presumably the crystallized gold washed down from the hills and was compacted into today’s nuggets and deposited in the top foot of shale and two feet of sandstone and cobbles just above the shale.
The area was covered by ice during the glacial period. It was the melting of these glaciers that formed the rich placers found along Swauk, Williams and Baker Creeks. These melting glaciers formed a river 600 to 800 feet wide and in many places the bedrock of this old channel is far up the mountain side above the present creeks.
Lode gold is found in various formations. Quartz and calcite seams have yielded large quantities of gold. Many stamp mills and arrastras were built for crushing this ore. Wire gold is found in pockets of ochre along the outcroppings of basalt.
The Red Top Mountain agate beds are well known for the blue agates found there. Quartz crystal specimens, jasper and agates may be found at Crystal Mountain.
Recorded county production from 1903 through 1959, all of which was attributed to the Swauk district, was 7,141 ounces, of which 4,972 ounces was placer gold. Production before 1903 is unrecorded, but there is an 11 year record from 1884 to 1895 which credited the county with 37, 095 ounces of gold. During the early days, it was not uncommon for miners to unearth nuggets weighing many pounds each. The largest ever found was 70 troy ounces!
Visitors to the area today may view relics of the early mining days and gain a better understanding of the conditions under which early-day miners and their families lived. There is a small museum and other buildings which are preserved in their early-day state, as well as mining equipment which can be viewed. Prospecting supplies can be purchased at the Liberty Gift Shop.