Women Mine Gold in Southern Oregon 100 Years Ago

May 28, 2014

Before she was a miner, Mrs. Wisenbacker played the role of Miss Pipes in the Anna Held Company’s theatrical performance titled “The Little Duchess.”  But in 1903 she decided to join her father and brother at their Forest Queen Hydraulic Mine near Grants Pass, Ore. 

The former Miss Pipes told a Mining Review reporter in 1904, “Though I had become fascinated with the life behind the footlights, I am equally so with the life of a gold digger in Southern Oregon.” The reporter described her as “a handsome woman busily engaged about the diggings,” separating mercury from gold and “bucking” boulders at bedrock. Nearby, Mrs. M.E. Moore worked her own mine as an expert piper who handled the huge placer nozzles used to blast tons of dirt from the hillsides to be processed for gold. “Mining is the life for me. I love it,” she told the reporter. In 1912, the president of the Oregon Mining Association was a woman, Mrs. L. B. Bartlett, who spoke at the Southern Oregon and Northern California Mining Congress in Medford. She had prospected all over the West and owned the Great Northwestern Mining and Milling Company. 

 Sources: "Female Miners in Southern Oregon." Oregon Gold: Finding Gold in Oregon. Ed. Kerby Jackson. Mining Review, May 1904. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.  "Medford as a Mining Center." Jefferson Mining District. Feb. 1912. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.