The Cariboo gold rush began in 1858 with the discovery of nugget gold in Keithley Creek. In the following years prospectors explored the watersheds to the north and found placer gold in many creeks, including Cunningham and Antler Creeks and their tributaries. The Cunningham Creek area (including tributaries Peter’s Gulch and Pearce Gulch) was worked extensively from 1879 to 1897 and again from 1919 to 1943, and produced almost 130,000 ounces of gold before 1950.
About 35,000 ounces of gold were produced from Antler Creek, 4,200 ounces from Beggs Gulch, 135,000 ounces from Conklin Gulch and 64,000 ounces from Grouse Creek (Kocsis, 1991). Approximately 5,000 ounces were produced from placer operations on French, Canadian and Maude Creeks. A large placer pit at Conklin Gulch, that historically contained 4 to 7 ounces gold/yard, produced 135,000 ounces of gold.
Significant placer mining took place on about a hundred stream beds in the district, fifteen of which produced in excess of 5,000 ounces of gold. Unfortunately, production before 1874, which include the most productive years, was not accurately recorded, so estimates are crude. The gold production between 1874 and 1945, which was well recorded by banks and government, is tabulated by Holland (1950) and can be taken to fairly represent the relative wealth of the ground. The estimated minimum gold production in the Province from 1858 to 1949 was stated to be 5,102,521 ounces.
Ninety percent of the gold produced between 1860 and 1886 came from the Cariboo Mining District. Including late production, probably 75 percent was mined in the Cariboo Mining District, or about 3,800,000 ounces worth about 4.94 billion dollars at current prices (1300 USD per ounce). Placer mining continues in a minor way as the idea that gold can simply be washed from gravel is a common fixation.
The placer gold production from eight creeks (Grouse, Wolf, Antler, Cunningham, Beggs Gulch, Stevens Gulch, California Gulch and Nugget Gulch) draining the Antler and Nugget Mountain Properties is estimated at 413,140 ounces (Kocsis, 1991).
The search for bedrock sources quickly followed the discovery of the placer gold. Later in the late 1920s, lodes were developed underground on either side of Jack of Clubs Lake at Wells which later proved economically feasible. Two mines came on stream, the Cariboo Gold Quartz on Cow Mountain southeast of the lake in 1933 and Island Mountain north of the lake in 1934. Much later in the 1980s, the Mosquito Creek Gold Mine opened further northwest on Island Mountain. All mines are on the same northwesterly trend and the workings are more or less contiguous. Between 1933 and 1987 the three lode mines produced 1,293,065 ounces of gold and 149,522 ounces of silver.
Bedrock exploration on a larger scale got underway in the 1930s. Gold mining activity in the region was spurred by an increase in the price of gold in 1932. The Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine at Wells went into production in 1933. Production began in 1937 at the Cariboo Hudson Gold Mine on Pearce Gulch. About 8,000 feet of underground workings were driven on five levels over the following ten years. The Cariboo Hudson Gold Mine produced 12,240 tonnes grading 13.2 g/T gold from one ore shoot on the Hudson Vein between 1938 and 1939.
After production ended at the Cariboo Hudson Gold Mine, the mine structures were dismantled and sold in 1948. During the 1950s, an extensive network of bulldozer trenching was done over the entire hilltop southeast of Pearce Gulch, exposing parts of the Shasta and 605 veins. Several companies conducted soil sample surveys over the area (some overlapping) through the 1970s. In the late 1970s some drilling was done to outline the veins (Shasta, 605 and Hudson) on the east part of the property. In the 1980s and 1990s Imperial Metals and Cathedral Gold further explored and drilled the known veins to define the mineral resource there. They also explored limestone-hosted galena-pyrrhotite-sphalerite showings on the west side of the property, near the confluence of Pearce and Peter’s Gulches, including the Gossan, Moneta, Ten Dollar and Sulphide Showings.