We’re excited about the economic benefits Baker County will realize from its exposure on “Gold Rush,” a highly rated reality TV series on the Discovery Channel.
As with “Ghost Mine,” the SyFy network series that filmed two seasons near Sumpter in 2013, “Gold Rush,” besides its direct monetary contributions, will give the county valuable publicity on a major cable network.
But we’d be happier still if the county could boast a mining boom that didn’t require the presence of TV cameras.
Baker’s reputation as Oregon’s top gold-producing county dates back to the Civil War.
But we were reminded just this week that you needn’t look that far back to find headlines touting the county’s rich deposits. With the announcement that the Cornucopia mines near Halfway are for sale, we dug through the vast troves of historical records on the state geology agency’s website. These include clips from this newspaper in the 1930s, when the Copia mines, despite the nation being mired in the Great Depression, employed 200 to 300 full-time miners and produced more gold than any other mine in Oregon.
We understand it’s farfetched to expect Baker County to replicate that era.
Even with gold hovering around $1,200 an ounce, the immense cost and labyrinth of government red tape required to start large-scale mining pose major obstacles to the industry.
But based on geologic reports there is little doubt that vast wealth still lies beneath the ground in parts of Baker County. And we’re confident that miners, if only they were allowed to do so, are ready to extract those treasures. Even if there are no cameras around.