Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald



A Canadian firm has bought one of Baker County's more renowned gold mines, and plans to start exploratory work there this spring.

The Bonanza Mine is in western Baker County, about 10 miles southwest of Sumpter.

Marathon Gold Corp. of Toronto bought the Bonanza in December from Gazelle Land and Timber LLC of Canyon City.

A spokesperson for Marathon could not be reached for comment in time for this story.

Marathon paid $125,000 plus 300,000 shares in the company, according to a press release from Marathon.

In addition, Gazelle, which bought the approximately 300-acre property in June 2009 for $280,000, will receive a 2 percent royalty on any gold processed from the mine, according to the press release.

Marathon reserves the right to reduce Gazelle's royalties to 1 percent, for which Marathon would have to pay $1 million.

Gazelle also retains the property's timber rights for 20 years.

"We believe this property has excellent upside exploration potential, and as we own 100 percent of the asset, we anticipate it generating value for the company," said Phillip Walford, Marathon's president and CEO, in the press release.

The Bonanza was one of Baker County's richer mines during the late 19th century.

It was discovered in 1877 by Jack Haggard, according to Miles F. Potter's "Oregon Golden Years," a history of mining in Oregon.

The Bonanza didn't produce much until the Geiser family took the property in 1890 in lieu of a $2,000 debt.

Over the next nine years the mine's production averaged $300,000 per year, according to Potter.

The Geisers sold the Bonanza in 1899 for $500,000 in gold coin.

Besides its contribution to the region's mining reputation, the Bonanza is significant for another reason.

The Geisers bought the Warshauer Hotel, which was built in Baker City in 1889, and they remodeled and renamed it the Geiser Grand.