According to Merv. Curtis, Charlie had no money to work the mine they had discovered, so went back to Cobden to get a guy by the name of Joe Taylor to put up the money for it, which he did. They put in a stamper battery and bins for the ore after widening the track to it. It opened and they filled the bins but there had been no rain so they were unable to get started and had decided to have an early Christmas when the rains came and filled the creek so they started up the battery, working solily for 10 days crushing the ore. In that 10 days it is said that they made enough money to pay for the whole operation. When the sea came to a dead end they spent virtually everything they had to search for the supposed other end of it. They even employed surveyors. Started going up towards it from the 10 mile and one day in heavy fog they found quartz with an even higher level of gold. They thought they knew where they were, but on returning to peg it out, couldn't find it.
I noticed that Charlie's left hand looked a bit strange when playing around with his photograph one day, so took a closer look at the other photo also. Definitely missing fingers - why? I asked Mervyn Curtis on my first visit to his home. He knew all about it.
Charlie lost his thumb, index and middle finger on his left hand when unpacking detonators, 100 to a box in sawdust. There was a bit of sawdust jammed in the bottom of a detonator which he tried to remove with a nail. They apparently had mercury in the bottom of them and were very sensitive!!!!
These reefs were situated almost due North of Stillwater, on the northside of the Grey River in the Langdon's Creek area. They were known to exist since 1870. Antimony was found in 1879, outcropping in the gully at the head of the creek, about 1440 feet above sea-level.
Langdon's Extended Claim, an antimony lode, later called the Julian Claim; taken over in 1894 by Curtis Bros. who discovered the Victory.
Charles later became dredgemaster at Slab Hut. This was a gold dredging Company situated opposite the railway line at Tawhai, between Reefton and Ikamatua. It was originally the Kangaroo Creek dredge and had started working in 1905. In 1909, after frequent machinery breakdowns, the company went into voluntary liquidation and the dredge was sold to a private syndicate which ceased operations in 1912.
From "The Golden Reefs" by Darrell Latham:
"Slab Hut Gold-Dredging Company"
"Operated at Tawhai, opposite the railway station. Dredgemasters: Charles Curtis and George Pettigrew.
The Slab Hut was originally the Kangaroo Creek dredge. She started work in June 1905 and continued with consistently payable results until 1908, by which time the heavy wash had so strained the machinery that breakdowns became frequent. Six months' dredging in 1905 produced 560 ounces of gold a a maiden dividend of two shillings per share was paid. During 1906 the average weekly return was around twenty-three ounces.
In 1909 the company went into voluntary liquidation and the dredge was disposed of to a private syndicate which ceased operations in 1912. Butler and party worked the Slab Hut on tribute during 1913 but she proved unpayable. A strong new syndicate overhauled the dredge in 1914 and fitted larger buckets (five cubic feet) as well as another boiler. Published returns by private parties are few and far between but for 1916 gold to the value of 2573 pounds was recovered. Work came to an end late in 1918."
An excerpt from "Remember Cobden" by Jack Minehan reads:
"Mr. Curtis, senior, played an important part in the building of the Cobden Bridge and was involved in dredging and gold recovery.
The family lived for some years at Stillwater and then moved to Cobden.
Wise's Post Office Guides between 1909 and 1917 list Charles Curtis as a mining speculator living in Cobden.
Charlie's older bother, Henry John, built the house at Cobden in which the family lived.