John Skeahan's mine.

Skeahan Bar


The following brief story is about Jack and David Skeahan's grandfather, who was among those searching for gold  in the wilderness blend of narrow valleys, steep forested mountains along the rugged Klamath River. John Skeahan (left) and Joe Davidson were hardrock miners who dug tunnels deep into the mountain following gold veins before and during early last century. When one tunnel was worked out, the timbers were removed to build another leaving the original tunnel to cave back in. Originally their claim was named Virginia Bar. Before Iron Gate Dam was built 20 miles upriver, pelicans could be seen here diving on salmon and steelhead. On Sundays, during the depression era, local teenagers speared salmon selling them to onlookers for 25 cents to a dollar.

 To give you a better idea of essentials, and what it was like during the gold rush, not far away was the town of Gottville. In 1851, William Gott settled here to  mine gold, and in 1857 built a home and post office at the mouth of Lumgrey and Empire Creeks, establishing the town of Gottville to serve the growing population of miners in the area. At one time, some 3,000 people lived in this narrow canyon. A temporary military encampment in 1860, by soldiers on their way to the Rogue Valley Indian War, temporarily caused the attachment of the word "Fort."

William, James and John Wood started hydraulic mining the area mid- 1855. They, like so many other practical miners working near creeks, ran a water-powered sawmill (right) supplying lumber for homes and flumes. Mail was sent across the river in a basket via cable. Betty Freshour was the postmistress at Gottville from 1929 to 1942 after which the post office was moved downriver to the site of the existing Klamath River Post Office. At that time, some wealthy property owners of the area greatly influenced the name change from Gottville to present day Klamath River.

Children attending school also rode across three at a time when high water prevented them from using their boats. Hotels, stores and saloons received supplies by pack train which had to cross the river on one of the five ferries in the area (left). While fishing for steelhead on the Klamath River in 1933, former President Herbert Hoover visited the Honolulu School and learned of Elsie DeAvila's lunch program, "the soup kettle." Hoover's first donation was $40. He continued his yearly donation from then on and considered this school his personal charity. This is believed to have inspired the country's school lunch program. The school and a barn lay in the path of the new road being developed in the late 30s. They were torn down and a third Honolulu School was built below Lumgrey Creek which operated until the late 1960s when it became a private residence.

The first traffic access to the north side of the river was across the 1910 bridge, one mile east. The abutments remain, though the bridge was wiped out by a doodlebug dredge (right) that broke loose at Humbug Creek during a flood. One mile east of this site is the Cayuse turnout where a public phone is located. Rock hounds can explore the tailings, and nature lovers can observe wood ducks, kingfishers and western pond turtles in the nearby pool.

Grandfather John J Skeahan died from auto accident Dec. 30 1930 at Gottville on the Klamath river West of Yreka  before Dave was born. He divorced Evaline Worthley Skeahan and moved North on the Klamath River. Pictured above is Jack's son Greg Skeahan by his great grandfather's mining site during July 2007. This popular river access features a large wooded area with picnic tables and dispersed campsites. There is a gravel road to the water's edge in the picture below.