Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Juniper Canyon gold claim foiled by snakebite

A.P. Anderson of Pendleton got a nasty surprise when he traveled to Pendleton in September 1908 to recover from a rattlesnake bite: a gold claim he planned to record on property in Juniper Canyon near Pendleton had been jumped by a man in his employ.

Anderson claimed to have discovered gold in the sands of Juniper Canyon. A prospector for many years in Alaska, Anderson gathered a bottle of gold grains from the coarse sand of the canyon, which he displayed as proof that the area was richer than anything he saw in the north country. One of the nuggets found by Anderson was worth more than $20.

Anderson said he formed a partnership with a Philadelphia man, J.W. Grier, and began prospecting the Juniper Canyon area with the help of James Conlan, who he and Grier employed as a driver. Anderson struck “pay dirt,” but before he could do more than an initial survey of the property he was bitten by a rattlesnake while gathering gravel. Anderson cauterized the bite with a white-hot iron and came immediately to Pendleton, where he had a home, to recover from the attack.

In the meantime, Conlan rushed to the recorder’s office at the Umatilla County Courthouse and filed a placer claim on the land, 40 acres near his homestead at the foot of Juniper Canyon. Conlan claimed he discovered gold in a stream that runs into the Umatilla River from the canyon. He immediately posted a notice on his claim, staked out the corners and high-tailed it into Pendleton to have the claim recorded. Anderson was informed of Conlan’s claim when he read the story in the East Oregonian.

Asserting his prior right to the claim under the mineral laws, Anderson planned to contest Conlan’s filing.

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