The majority of gold production in Oregon has come from a gold belt that spans approximately 50 miles wide and 100 miles long and includes the Blue Mountains in the northeastern part of the state. Most gold production has come from Baker and Grant counties, with smaller gold deposits in adjoining counties.
Thousands of ounces of gold have come from this region. Gold production included both lode mining and placer mining, and while there were many famous discoveries in this region, the most well known find was the famous Armstrong Nugget.
The Armstrong Nugget is an impressive gold nugget, and the largest gold nugget from Oregon still in existence today. It was found by George Armstrong and Dick Stewart on June 19, 1913. They were placer mining in Buck Gulch, near what is now a ghost town named Susanville, in Grant county.
While washing out gravels in a part of their claim, Stewart spotted an odd looking object in the creek and reached down to pick it up. He was shocked to discover that it was a huge gold nugget, as large as a mans fist. The next day the two men headed to Baker City with their nugget. The assayer confirmed that it was solid gold and weighed a whopping 80.4 troy ounces!
Almost all of the large gold nuggets discovered by the early miners were melted down, but fortunately the Armstrong nugget still exists intact today. The melt value of the Armstrong nugget is well over $100,000, but of course it’s rarity would make it worth many times that amount to a collector.
It is currently on display at the US Bank in Baker City, Oregon across from the famous Geiser Grand Hotel. It has survived along with a wonderful collection of many other large gold nuggets, gold in quartz specimens, and gold ore from the early mining days. It can be viewed by the public during regular banking hours and is a must-see if you ever find yourself traveling through eastern Oregon.