Finding gold on the Olympic Peninsula

Peninsula Daily News
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In a new book, "Olympic Peninsula Gold: Where to Find Gold on The Peninsula," author Dan Youra documents the history and locations of gold discoveries in and around Olympic National Park.

Youra, a 39-year resident of the North Olympic Peninsula, writer and Port Hadlock-based publisher of tra­vel guides, directs readers to three sources of gold in the shadows of Mount Olympus — Peninsula beaches, pirate lore and sunken ships.

Local beaches glitter with a rich history of producing gold, according to Youra.

His book book opens archives of the National Park Service to document mining claims as far back as 1894, when the discovery of gold excited a local gold rush and attracted miners to stake beaches for 60 miles south of Cape Flattery.

In 1917, a miner named J. M. Starbuck reported that he found $5,000 in gold at the mouth of a creek, north of the Quillayute River.

At $19 an ounce then and around $900 an ounce now, Starbuck’s gold would be worth $236,000 in 2009 dollars.

The book identifies reports of gold in Jefferson, Clallam, Grays Harbor and Mason counties.

Tales of pirate plunder on the Peninsula also sparked Youra’s curiosity.

In 1579, Sir Francis Drake, the famous English privateer known to his Spanish victims as “El Draque” (The Dragon), may have sailed the Peninsula’s coast aboard the Golden Hinde, weighed down by 26 tons of silver and gold, which he and his crew seized from two Spanish galleons off Ecuador and Peru.

W.C. Jameson, author of "Buried Treasures of the Pacific Northwest," claims that Drake may have buried a few tons of his loot to lighten his load to navigate the strait in search of the Northwest Passage.

In 1592, Youra writes, a Greek captain, Juan de Fuca, sailing in northwest waters for Spain, wrote that he discovered “gold, silver and pearls” somewhere along the strait between the North Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island that bears his name.

Youra also writes about sunken ships with gold aboard along the Peninsula’s shores.

Most notable is the SS Governor, which sank off Port Townsend in 1921, taking with her a casino safe of gold coins valued at $3 million.

Attempts to raise the prize have proven futile so far to divers who have dared the depths off the city’s beach.

Youra’s book recounts the region’s role in the Klondike gold rush, when Port Townsend was a port of debarkation for gold seekers such as Jack London, famed author of Alaska adventure stories.

The book includes regulations on gold prospecting, glossary of terms and a list of books on gold mining in Washington.

"Olympic Peninsula Gold" binds 48 pages in a glossy cover which features a pirate-like map of treasures.

The book sells for $10 dollars and can be ordered online at www.OlyTreasure.com.

Youra has also posted more information at www.OlympicPeninsulaGold.com and www.DanYoura.com, or contact him dan@youra.com.

Last modified: May 09. 2009 4:21PM
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