This updates a much older post, now with historic photos from the 1930s.
Out our back gate the land falls away steeply into the river. The Lady Ranfurly gold dredge took incredible amounts of gold from the bottom of the river right here in the early 1900's. ( see post Gold from the River.
That started people thinking. As they do when gold is to be had. The Great Depression of the 1930s put many people back into the hunt for gold. The most successful were right here.
The theory was that the Kawarau River once flowed under the flat land where we are, probably caused by a sandstone bar redirecting the flow north. If this was the case, then a lead of gold could be found under the flat and be very rich indeed.
|This photo from our back gate shows Scotland point to the left where the tunneling operations were before the lake was created and the water raised. The entrances were close to the original river because that enabled tunnels to be drained down and outwards.|
Scotland Point, is named after a Mr Scotland who in the 1880's found the first traces of that buried river bed. Building small tunnels just large enough to crawl inside, he dug up the wash while lying on his back or stomach, and placed it into a tray attached to a rope, which was pulled out by his wife, who would run it through a washing cradle. Many attempts were made to find Scotland's workings but they were never found.
In 1932 Percy Bell, Bill Kilgour, Richie Bell and Zip and Lance Hooper, during weeks of back-breaking work, used picks and shovels and, occasionally, explosives to put drives into the sandstone cliffs. It was the midst of the Depression and the Government started paying a miner's benefit of about 14 shillings and 3 pence a week to assist men in prospecting for gold.
Bill Kilgour's two brothers and other local men were brought in to work the Bell Kilgour and Bell Hooper minesas they moved towards the foothills, finding average daily takes of 8lb to 10lb (3.6kg to 4.5kg), which was "very rich indeed" Finally, the Bell Kilgour and Bell Hooper Gold Mining companies were formed, and continued to find significant amounts of gold from Scotland's lead.
to Professor Park, an eminent mining authority at the time, it was one
the most significant finds of alluvial gold deposits found anywhere in
New Zealand since the 1800s.
However the project did not continue for long. I have not learned
why. Although obviously if it had continued to be possible to get the
gold then tunneling would have continued.
|Todays peaceful scene conceals past cycles of frantic and fruitful activity.|