Framework

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Sep. 1932: Mr. and Mrs. Frank Robison, recently of Oklahoma, looking for gold in San Gabriel Canyon. A similar photo of the couple was published in the Sep. 25, 1932 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Sep. 1932: Gold miner Charles T. Brown with about $55 worth of gold in pan, San Gabriel Canyon. This photo was published in the Sep. 25, 1932 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Sep. 1932: Prospector holds small gold nuggets found in the East Fork of the San Gabriel River.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Sep. 1932: Gold miners Charles T. Brown and Mrs. Frank Robison weighing gold, San Gabriel Canyon. The lower left corner of image is missing - reason unknown.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Sep. 1932: Gold miners Lawrence Treece, Newell Leiser, and Irene Treece at dinner time at the San Gabriel Canyon gold camp. This photo was published in the Sep. 25, 1932 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Sep. 1932: Gold miner Joey Brandt working with conveyer bucket, hopper, and sluice box over stream, San Gabriel Canyon. A similar photo of Joey Brandt was published in the Sep. 25, 1932 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Sep. 1932: Elevated view of "Lower Klondike" gold mining camp in the San Gabriel Canyon. This photo was published in the Sep. 25, 1932 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Sep. 1932: View of "Lower Klondike" gold mining camp in the San Gabriel Canyon enlarged from previous image. This photo was published in the Sep. 25, 1932 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Sep. 1932: M.L. Sims and Archie Clark send loads of gold-laden dirt down from their diggings to San Gabriel river's East Fork for washing. This photo was published in the Sep. 25, 1932 Los Angeles Times. On left are Fire Warden Albert E. Marshall and another unidentified man in shirt and tie.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Sep. 1932: Gold miner M.L. Sims with wheelbarrow and shovel in the San Gabriel Canyon. This is an unpublished frame from story that was published in the Sep. 25, 1932 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Sep. 1932: An itinerant gold buyer pays $16 an ounce for dust and tiny nuggets: Left to right, unidentified buyer, Frank Robison, Fire Warden Marshall, Charles T. Brown and M.L. Sims. A similar photo was published in the Sep. 25, 1932 Los Angeles Times. Brown is seated weighing gold on scales on wooden box.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Front page of the Sep. 25, 1932 Los Angeles Times with seven photos accompanying the Gold Mining story.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: ProQuest

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1932 gold prospecting in San Gabriel Canyon

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1932 gold prospecting in San Gabriel Canyon

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1932 gold prospecting in San Gabriel Canyon

Sep. 1932:  Prospector holds small gold nuggets found in the East Fork of the San Gabriel River.

In a Sep. 25, 1932 Los Angeles Times front page story Jean Bosquet reported:

If you can imagine such a thing as a leisurely gold rush, then you can go out along the noisy banks of the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, deep in the canyon bearing that name, and actually see something approximating an unhurried hunt for precious metal.

It never was much of a rush, this quest for San Gabriel Canyon gold which began two years ago and drew thousands of hopeful prospectors with no more prospects than the tailings of a really frenzied rush of another, earlier day.

But the glittering metal has been found daily along the boiling canyon stream since the first of the modern gold seekers pressed into the depths of the canyon, their automobiles and sometimes modern camping equipment in sharp contrast to memory pictures of what had gone on in there sixty years before.

It isn’t much gold that they find, but such as it is, the leavings of that other rush, it has provided today’s seekers with at least a livelihood.

Today there are slightly more than 500 persons scattered along the stream in the canyon, of which thirty are women and a score children. The live in shacks, tents, lean-tos and even in ramshackle automobiles. They form an amazing heterogeneous collection of humans, their numbers being made up of members of many professions, extremely few of them with previous prospecting experience.

Their equipment is as makeshift as their quarters–a bit of wire, an old metal bucket, a shovel, a few lengths of abandoned stovepipe and a perfume bottle being enough for most of them.

From office, factory, store, farm and restaurant have come the men who muck for the tailings of gold to be found on the canyon’s steep sides, where the tunnels of yesteryear’s miners create a honeycomb and the ghosts of a gold-maddened horde stalk by night.

The gold that is found is chiefly dust, few nuggets having been left by those who picked the canyon walls clean more that half a century ago. The precious metal is washed out of the dirt with which it is mixed by a panning, sluicing or washing process in the river below.

A grocery clerk pushed his steaming truck up the five miles or so of river-bed road, his laboring conveyance bounding over boulders and crossing and recrossing the lustily singing river at least seven times before “Upper Klondike” is reached.

The grocer offers $16 an ounce for the glittering stuff carried in the perfume bottles of the miners. He sends to the mint in Sacramento and clears a couple of dollars an ounce for his trouble.

The man with the grocery truck doesn’t buy as much now as he formerly did. The gold seekers nowadays for the most part prefer to drive to Los Angeles, forty miles away, and send the stuff to the mint themselves to get its full value. They go in about once each month…

The government, explains Chief Fire Warden Marshall of the San Gabriel Canyon district, who acts as guide occasionally on canyon tours, permits this digging for gold on the site of the once feverish rush, providing no one tries to clean off the canyon walls in too energetic style.

“We don’t let ‘em use hydraulic drills or anything that would take out the soil in a wholesale manner,” says Marshall. The tailing in here have enabled a lot of unemployed folk to at least feed themselves since we began letting them work in the canyon. And there’s enough gold left to feed a lot more families if no one tries to get rich all at once…”

There is no form of city government in Upper or Lower Klondike, the largest settlements of miners and their families. Klondike used to be called Ragtown but the dignity of some of the gold seekers asserted itself and the name has been changed.

The two settlements are about 300 yards apart and are separated by a bend in the stream…

While it is hard to obtain from any of the quiet miners a definite average as to what they are taking out of the canyon, with its memories of that hectic earlier gold hunt, the word along the winding river is that it’s about $1.50 a day….

Gold prospecting continues today in San Gabriel Canyon. This previous 2012 Framework photo gallery Trashing the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, includes three images of recent prospecting.

Seven photos accompanied Bosquet’s story in the Sep. 25, 1932 Los Angeles Times. The photographer is unknown, but was probably a Los Angeles Times staff photographer. A dozen of the original 4 by 5 inch nitrate negatives at the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive at UCLA have been scanned. Ten of these images make up the above photo gallery.

The photographer is unknown. I found one print from this story in the Los Angeles Times archives, but there was no photo credit on the back of the print. If you know the photographer, please leave a comment below.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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3 Comments

  1. September 26, 2013, 12:12 pm

    Mining in the San Gabriel River is illegal and has been since 1872. Sadly, illegal mining has not been stopped due to the lack of law enforcement, and people still commit the crime seeingthat others are doing it and honestly believing that it is legal.

    By: frice@sonic.net
  2. February 3, 2014, 4:40 am

    Frisco, you are seriously misinformed. Commercial mining occurred in the canyon until 1942 when all of the nation’s gold mines were closed so men could be used in the war effort. There are still valid mining claims held in this canyon and could be commercially mined with enough money and going through the permitting process. Filing new claims within most areas of the canyon have been disallowed since 1926 so all those claims have been kept active since before then. Finally prospecting, which is the act of finding, searching for, and sampling gold deposits is allowed and not banned by any law.

    Please research your claims before spreading misinformation n

    By: stefan
  3. March 7, 2014, 10:10 am

    See this article, paragraph 2. http://framework.latimes.com/2012/09/28/trashing-

    By: krt1934@aol.com

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