Special Reports

In Malheur County, chasing Oregon’s biggest pot of gold

VALE – The dead hot springs lured the two Montana prospectors to Malheur County, but it was minerals resting inside chunks of rock that confirmed a hunch there was money under the sagebrush south of Vale.

Richard Sherry and Skip Yates arrived at Grassy Mountain during a wet and windy spring in 1984, searching for gold.

 “There had been several gold deposits developed under old hot springs,” Yates recalled recently from his home in Montana.

They brought to the hunt a methodical, scientific approach focusing on rocks and soil, a contrast to the grit and luck that drove miners in the past.

The two didn’t know their search eventually would uncover one of the biggest gold and silver lodes in Oregon.

The story of the Grassy Mountain mine now spans more than three decades. If the . . .