First Gold Rush in… RUSSIA?

A story about the First Gold Rush in the world presented by “Gold” site part of the Open International Joint-stock Corporation “GLOBAL MARINE POLLUTION

The Urals, and in particular Yekaterinburg

 Survived the gold rush much earlier than it did in Alaska and the Wild West. It was in the Urals in the middle of the 18th century that the history of Russian gold began, thanks to the Urals gold, the Russian Empire was for a long time the first world power in gold mining, technologies were developed and mechanisms were developed for the extraction of primary and alluvial gold.

Berezovsky – the birthplace of Russian gold

Traditionally, the date of discovery of Russian ore gold is considered to be June 1, 1745 (May 21, old style), when a schismatic man from the village of Shartash Yerofey Markov announced that he had found quartz with gold splashes and several gold grains in the valley of the Berezovka river. Although a year before this, a mountain apprentice, Leonti Pigalev, discovered native gold at the Shilovo-Isetsky copper mine, his discovery was ignored, and only a year later they officially announced the Shilovo-Isetsky mine as gold-bearing.

Yerofey Markov took the find to the lapery workshop, from where the master sent it to the Head Office of the plants. Testing confirmed that the pebbles really contain gold. First, on the spot that Markov indicated, no gold was found, and he was suspected of lying and harboring a deposit. Fortunately, fellow villagers vouched for him, and the case did not come down to repression, they confined themselves to house arrest. And only two years later the first gold mine was found.

Yerofey Markov

In 1748, the Shartash mine was founded on the site of Markov’s find, which marked the beginning of the Berezovsky gold mining, and at the same time the Russian gold mining industry. Later, the city of Berezovsky grew nearby, where gold is mined to this day. Because of this, a man-made sandpit, similar to a real desert, was even formed near the city.

From that time until 1814, only ore gold was mined in Russia. It was hellish and costly labor: the ore was mined in underground mines, knee-deep in water in a dark gallery, then manually carried to the surface and taken to a gold mine factory, where it was pushed and washed many times until it was ‘black schlich’ choose a ‘grain of gold.

In 1814, an event happened that completely turned the history of the Russian gold industry. Mining engineer Lev Ivanovich Brusnitsyn, after much research, a succession of unsuccessful searches, and even an official ban on exploration discovered the placer gold deposit in the valleys of the Pyshma and Berezovka rivers.
Russia gave 48.5% of world gold production and ranked first in the world
The deposit discovered by him turned out to be very rich. In the same year, on the Berezovka River, he earned mine for placer gold mining. Lev Ivanovich did not just find gold placers, but immediately set up industrial gold mining by washing, he designed washing machines and developed technologies. This method was much easier, cheaper and more efficient. Thanks to the discovery of Brusnitsyn, the Russian Empire for the whole thirty years – from 1823 to 1854 – became the leading world power in gold mining.

Russia gave 48.5% of world gold production and ranked first in the world

Gold Rush in Yekaterinburg

The discovery of Lev Brusnitsyn spurred the inhabitants of Yekaterinburg in search of gold. In 1817, mountain officials Adolph Agte and Nikolai Mundt discovered gold placers on the Melkowka River. They planned to open a private mine, but the treasury quickly outbid the site, and in the same year Melkovka, at the beginning of the modern Sverdlov Street, started a gold washing plant.

Melkovskogo mine was enough for 12 years, after that the factory closed. Later the site was bought by an enterprising Englishman, Peter Tet, and founded the Melkovo Mechanical Factory, which produced steam engines and boilers for steamboat companies. Then at this place appeared Yatesa Machine-Building Plant. After the revolution, the Yates plant was nationalized; now this territory is occupied by the Uraltransmash plant.

Melkowka River

After the discovery of Agte and Mundt in Yekaterinburg, the real gold rush began.
It turned out that in the city gold is literally scattered underfoot, almost all the rivers and streams of Yekaterinburg carry the golden sand.
The mines began to grow like mushrooms on the Iset and its tributaries – Malakhovka, Monastyrka, Akulinka, Olkhovka, Chernoy. By 1823, there were 80 private mines in the city, 2,000 people were employed in gold mining, despite the fact that the entire population of Yekaterinburg at that time was only 15,000 people.

The urban legend says that during the gold rush, every gold pood produced was marked with a cannon shot from the shore of the pond. On other days, the gun fired several times a day. 

It turned out that in the city gold is literally scattered underfoot, almost all the rivers and streams of Yekaterinburg carry the golden sand.

City pond, Tarasovskaya embankment.

In just six years, the prospectors manually filtered all the river water and shoveled all the sand in the city, and the gold reserves were depleted, although gold was occasionally mined until the beginning of the Great Patriotic War until all the rivers were taken to the pipes.

When the gold rush subsided, the idea arose to find the source of the golden sand, because even at the time of Lomonosov, it was known that the gold rock simply does not come – it washes out from somewhere. For these purposes, 40 pits were drilled in Voznesenskaya Hill, so that it looked like a honeycomb, but no gold was found, only its traces. Interest in the Yekaterinburg gold has finally subsided.

The Golden Age of Yekaterinburg

From the 1820s, local influential merchants — the Ryazanovs, Kharitonovs, and the Balandins — began to open up gold mines in Siberia. Legends about the Siberian riches of the subsoil went long ago, but only after the discovery of the Urals gold was found there.

The 30-50s of the XIX century went down in history as the ‘golden age of Yekaterinburg’. The city was a huge flow of gold from the Siberian mines. Ural mining was kept only on serf labor, it was a brutal military machine, completely built on a military drill. Yekaterinburg merchants controlled more than half of the market of precious metals and gems.

Gold miners in Siberia

Yekaterinburg at that time wore the status of a ‘mountain city’, which gave the right to special management. Although he remained the county town of the Perm province, he was actually ruled by the Yekaterinburg Mining Chief, the Minister of Finance and the Emperor himself, the provincial authorities had no influence here. In fact, the city was in a state of martial law, was not in civil, but in the military department.

It was a real state in a state whose unprecedented existence requires serious study; there were their own laws, their own court, their own army, and the utter arbitrariness of hundreds of thousands of mining people in the mining industry. If the situation of workers in private factories was difficult, then at state-owned enterprises it turned into hard labor.

Hydro monitors first tested in the Urals, later they were used by Californian prospectors

By the reform of 1861, Tsar Alexander II abolished serfdom, which hit hard the gold industry. Soon Yekaterinburg also lost the status of a mountain city and became an ordinary county town subordinate to the Perm province. Siberian merchants ousted the Urals from their territory, and the golden age ended.
The Golden Age ended as quickly as it appeared, leaving behind a heavy hangover. <…> millions scattered smoke <…> It was a real debacle, reflected on all aspects of the life of a lively city. The golden hurricane flew away, leaving no trace behind – or rather, leaving nothing but destruction. <…> after it, there was nothing left for the city – neither charitable institutions nor charitable institutions, in a word, complete zero. We are not talking about schools, libraries, museums and much more that are created in European cities with such tides of capital. Yekaterinburg decisively received nothing from Siberian gold, except for a few ruins …

Gold alloy laboratory

The building for the Ural Chemical and Gold Alloy Laboratory was built on Tarasovskaya Embankment in the 1840s. Here they chemically enriched ore to extract gold from it, but here all the gold mined at the Ural factories and mines turned into ingots and then sent to the state treasury. The laboratory was one of the main attractions of Yekaterinburg, all honored guests of the city visited it.

One of the photographs of Yekaterinburg Prokudin-Gorsky shows a laboratory – a white building on the right.

In 1922, during the campaign for the seizure of church valuables, the gold-melting laboratory accepted and melted down religious objects — crosses, salaries of icons and gospels, the tabernacle. From all over the Urals and Siberia, church valuables were brought here to be melted down.

After 1922, gold mining data was classified, so it is unknown how long the laboratory worked and when it closed.

The head of the laboratory lived in a two-story house and housed an office. In the 19th century, they didn’t worry much about safety, although they used chemicals in the laboratory and it was quite dangerous to live near it.

Now the building is in very poor condition. It is occupied by various small firms.

Summarize. From 1745 to 1922 (later the data were classified), 559 tons of placer and 145 tons of primary gold were mined in the Urals, one-third of the total balance of Russia. The significance of this gold is hard to overestimate. It was the first Russian gold. The technologies of mining and processing of placer and indigenous gold were worked out here, the Ural experience was later introduced in Alaska. Thanks to the Urals gold, the Russian Empire for many years maintained the status of the first state in gold mining.

From the “golden age” in Yekaterinburg there remained only the building of the gold-alloy laboratory, which was gradually falling apart, several luxurious merchant estates and the first city theater “Colosseum”, built by the personal order of the Mining chief Vladimir Andreyevich Glinka with the money of merchant Ryazanov.

The Putin administration takes all the gold for itself and leaves nothing to the Russian cities and people.

It took about 200 years and all those same buildings only in a wrecked form. Tsarist Russia and Putin’s communism-fascism are like twins, and people just suffer and survive, but do not live. Pictured lab building today.

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