The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 39, September 27, 2009, Article 22


Brent Zimmerman writes:
Quite a while back there were some questions in The E-Sylum about the Mint at The Dalles, Oregon. I was able to put together a story about the mint there, and was fortunate enough to have it published in the August 4th issue of Numismatic News.

Brent's article is available online at the NumisMaster web site. Here are some excerpts. -Editor

The Dalles Mint In addition to Philadelphia, the current mints are the famous San Francisco branch mint, the Denver Mint and the toddler West Point, N.Y., facility which has been in business since only 1973 as compared to 1792, 1854 and 1906, respectively, for the other three.

But how many of us have heard of the U.S mint that was located in The Dalles in Oregon? Could we have had a "TD" mintmark? Or perhaps "DC," as it was originally known as Dalles City. I invite you to take a walk with me, back to the mid-1800s, as we learn about this fascinating story, and some of the people and the events that transpired.

Then called Dalles City, it was the departure point in the 1840s that thousands of pioneers, bypassing the mountains, rafted down the Columbia river to the Willamette river, and settled in its rich western Oregon valley.

The Dalles was the end of the land route of the Oregon Trail.

The gold strike news spread like wild fire. The "flames" fanned out into all the Owyhee country - eastern Oregon and parts of Idaho, Washington and Montana. Prospectors swarmed in. In 1862 there were some 80,000 prospectors who were seeking and finding their fortunes. It was a full-fledged gold rush. This also led to demands for a mint to be built in the region.

The Dalles, nerve center of the vast gold rush, reached a population at times of 10,000, counting those coming in from the diggings, or going to them. It was here that the raw gold seemed to always flow. It was a busy, rip-roaring city. Business boomed, including such 24-hour conveniences as saloons, gambling joints and houses of ill repute. Every man carried a handgun.

Some years later, the Dalles Chronicle commented on the times: "Payment for all commodities was made in gold dust. The god of gold reigned supreme in The Dalles. Human values were forgotten. Bags of gold were handled about as freely as other commodities. They were passed across the counter and gambling tables or bars in payment (of) merchandise, debts or drinks. There was no service for less than $1. The Wells Fargo Express Co. carried the gold dust and bullion to the San Francisco mint by boat". Gold coins, nearly all of the Coronet type, were the media of exchange, although gold dust was accepted. Silver coins were few and far between, with any that were found being mostly the Seated Liberty design.

On the blueprints, the design for the mint building was well proportioned and attractive. To the non-architectural eye, it was shaped like two rectangles, one larger than the other, placed across each other. The Carson City Mint is of similar design. Plans at The Dalles called for the lengthwise portion to be just over 90 feet, by almost 51 feet. The crosswise section, which had the main entrance at one end and an engine-boiler room attached at the rear, was 63 feet by 51 feet, 8 inches.

"The building is to be two stories high, having a basement under all of it", stated A.B. Mullet, the Treasury departments' supervising architect. "It will be constructed of stone and brick, portions of it will be groined for brick floors and portions will have wooden floors". The blueprints were complete for the mint, but never entirely used to complete the building.

To read the complete article, see: Mint that Never Was Makes Interesting Tale (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: THE U.S. MINT AT DALLES CITY, OREGON (


DAVID SKLOW - FINE NUMISMATIC BOOKS Sale #8, Closes Saturday October 3, 2009, CATALOG has been mailed and is posted on my web site PH: (719) 302-5686, FAX: (719) 302-4933. EMAIL: USPS: Box 6321, Colorado Springs, CO. 80934. Contact me for your numismatic literature needs! Coming soon highlights from the Q. David Bowers Research Library Sale Part I February 13, 2010

Wayne Homren, Editor

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