MONDAY 12-10-2012 the fight against SEIU, more on the SWAT van purchase, sturgeon to go catch and release? The story of southern Oregon's biggest gold nugget EVER!

Dec 09, 2012 -- 1:29pm

FIND BILL'S PODCASTS on, Past show information and commentary is on my BLOG ARCHIVES. To E-Mail Bill Meyer, Click HERE.


From now through next Monday, 12/17 at 9am, I'm doing an informal "auction" on Facebook of some of my vintage radios. All money raised goes to our KMED/Bi-Mart 2012 Holiday Food Drive for the Salvation Army.

Just click this link, and you'll be taken to my Facebook gallery. Just comment to bid on a radio, or email me, and I'll bid on your behalf.



Medford Police unveiled its latest acquisition on Friday...A $260,000 SWAT vehicle based on a Ford F550 truck chassis. It's fully armored plated, capable of withstanding .50 caliber bullet strikes. It also features gun turrets on the roof. Yep, a fully-loaded urban assault vehicle for a supposed civillian police force.

This is nothing new, JCSO has a similar vehicle already. However, do we need these in the "land of the free"?  What's most concerning about this most recent addition will be the drive to demonstrate the "need" for this police state vehicle. You get a brand new shiny "hammer", and you'll be looking for people in need of "nailing".

In Sunday's Mail Tribune's article, Medford officials defended their purchase. Most of the statements were on the line of  "Officer safety", and we can "evacuate the public safely", blah-blah-blah. It makes you wonder how did MPD (Or JCSO for that matter) ever respond to a suicide call or bad guy with a gun without SWAT teams and equipment better suited for clearing streets in Fallujah?

This wagon is about showing who's boss, and who is swinging the biggest male private police parts. Be concerned when your civillian police force dresses up like soldiers, uses army tactics, and equips itself with military enforcement gear.  It's a clear indicator that they're no longer wishing to behave like a civillian controlled force, but rather a military force. Actions and behavior DO follow form.


6:35 Dave Bego, author of "The Devil at Our Doorstep", and "The Devil at My Doorstep". Dave is the President/CEO of Executive Management Services, and is one of the leading experts on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) a/k/a Card Check and Union Political activities.Unlike other corporate executives who either compromise their core values and cave in to union demands, or those who simply talk about what it would be like to face financial disaster based on fighting back against one of the most powerful unions in existence today, Bego has lived the experience while under attack from SEIU's Andy Stern and his union thugs.

7:35 Greg Roberts and fishing guide Kelly Short, and we discuss the drive by Governor Kitzhaber to turn sturgeon fishing into catch and release. This has been held back...for now.

8:35 Scott Siefurt and Rene Hewitt, and they promote the "Live Nativity" in Jacksonville at Bingham Knoll. A HUGE production, 100 actors, all free thanks to the cooperation of numerous local chuches. 5-8 pm on Friday, 3:30 to 7pm Saturday and Sunday. More information at the Jacksonville Review.

8:10 Dr. Dennis Powers, "Visiting Past and Present". Today, the story of southern Oregon's largest gold nugget EVER.

Mattie's Nugget--and the Currency of Gold

By Dennis Powers

Throughout the country--and especially in Southern Oregon--gold nuggets, bars, and even dust were used as currency until the 1930s. During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt made the private ownership and use of gold as a currency to be illegal. Before then, gold was used to pay debts and anyone, whether a resident or not, could buy a gold nugget at any local bank, from Grants Pass to Ashland. And more on this later. 

In 1859, a small, nervous Irishman--one Mattie Collins--was working through the tailings around Althouse Creek in Josephine County’s Illinois Valley. Althouse Creek winds its way from the Siskiyou Mountains and flows fifteen miles later into the Illinois River. The area had been a fine place for placer gold discoveries. Although the great finds were largely over, Mattie was ever hopeful. On one of the tributaries, he looked up the bank and spotted a large stump with exposed roots. Hoping he might find something, he began pulling out rocks--and came across a huge nugget.

It weighed 17 pounds, the largest gold nugget reportedly discovered in Southern Oregon. Terrified that someone would rob him, or con him, if they heard about his good fortune, Mattie hired a fellow Irishman by the name of Dorsey to help him get the nugget to a San Francisco bank. Collins and Dorsey jumped at every noise or strange shadow; they checked every side trail to avoid an ambush. They were able to get to San Francisco safely and he sold the nugget for $3,500, which would be worth $450,000 today. When word was out about his find, miners flooded into the area--but didn’t find anything close to this.

Mattie kept the money in that San Francisco bank and worked for wages, first in California, then in Nevada, Idaho, and Montana. The frugal man deposited his earnings into the same bank. The years passed by and at 65, however, Mattie Collins fell in love with a younger woman. She succeeded where everyone else had failed, skimming the money away and then leaving him. Collins died near penniless, despite his good fortune and years of hard work.

Although the great majority of prospectors never came close to Mattie’s “good” fortune, gold for all those years was a currency--and preferred. Banks weighed the golden nuggets, accepted them, and gave gold coins in return. The coins were in five-dollar, ten-dollar, and twenty-dollar denominations. One problem was that the five-dollar gold coin was nearly the size of and appearance of a penny.  Mistakes were made in passing out in change a five-dollar gold coin for a penny, the loss not equal to ones chagrin at such a later discovery.

Whether Gold Hill or Jacksonville, prospectors came to town and exchanged their gold or nuggets for whiskey, women, clothing, food, or whatever provisions that were needed. When they needed more money, the miners trudged back into the hills. Disdainful of banks, they carried or hid their nuggets. Some did--if big enough or armed--carry them around, including one who would set his quart glass jar of golden nuggets on the counter when ordering his meals.

Usually, those who owned the general stores became the rich ones. One area prospector, Lester Foley, wrote in 1931: “After seventeen years, I’m a little weary, hungry. I’m reduced to Spartan austerity. Have a depressed feeling. Am on a diet of beans. After 17 years, my pocket averaged $2.30 a year, excluding expenses; but included frost-bite, fly-bite, rattlesnake bite; included bleeding fingers, an aching back, a frosted lung, and pain.”

With today’s quantitative easing and enormous fiscal deficits, we just might have to head back to those times.   

Source: Truwe, Ben, “Althouse Creek in the Early Days by William MacKay,” Internet: (first published in the Medford Sun, June 18, 1911, page B4.); The Gold Hill News, Gold Hill, Oregon, May 4, 1906 to April 19, 1907, vol. 9. See also: Powers, Dennis M. Gold Hill: Images of America, Arcadia Publishing: Charleston, South Carolina, 2010, pp. 7-8, 21, et al.

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