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Life In Ruins: Golden's Tarnished Ecosystem

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GPS Coordinates: 42.68275, -123.330417

The tiny town of Golden was established in 1892. This area had long served as a campsite for prospectors searching for gold along the nearby Coyote Creek. Even at its height, Golden was a rather sleepy place which contained no saloons and experienced little of the “wild west” chaos typical of mining camps from that era. Today, if you plan to visit Golden, you’ll have to keep a sharp eye on the edge of the road as only four buildings remain standing, including the mercantile and a very picturesque church. Next to the church is a graveyard some sources claim is not authentic and was actually created when a TV western filmed on the site in the 1960s.

Reclaiming The Creek

Below the townsite is Coyote Creek. The creek’s shoreline has changed dramatically since the 1850s when gold was first discovered here. Originally, a gentle slope led down through thick trees to the water’s edge. But years of gold mining using high-pressure water to separate the soil from the gold it contained ravaged the area. Similar techniques continued until the 1960s when growing concerns about the water quality downstream stopped development. By that time, decades of mining had cut apart and washed away acres of topsoil and the natural embankment. Today, there’s a steep cliff separating the townsite from the creek.

In the early 1990s, a nonprofit organization was founded to reclaim the creek – though the original landscape around it was forever lost. Volunteers reworked the landscape, constructing pools and wetlands to catch rainwater, slow erosion and provide a stable habitat for fish, amphibians, waterfowl and mammals such as the American Beaver.

Today, the Golden National Historic District and the Coyote Wetlands are jointly administered by Oregon Parks and Recreation and Josephine County.

Related Information: Grant’s Pass and Vicinity

Notable Animals: Roosevelt Elk | Mule Deer | Bobcat | Bald Eagle | American Beaver | North American River Otter | Red-Tailed Hawk | Canada Goose | Great Blue Heron | Western Pond Turtle | Great Basin Spadefoot Toad | Rough-skinned Newt | Caddisflies | Dragonflies

Notable Plants: Sitka Spruce | Western Redcedar | Bigleaf Maple | Devil’s Club | Sword Fern | Maidenhair Fern | Monkeyflower | Columbine

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