California Gold

Lassen County California Gold

Not usually thought for being a gold mining County, nevertheless near the northern-central border there was a discovery of some very rich veins. Lassen County is covered by a lot of lava rock, but in the midst of all the lava beds in the higher elevation of the county you can find the Hayden Hill District in township 36N and 37N. range 10E and 11E. Official records indicate gold was first discovered at Hayden Hill in 1870, however proper records were never kept, or were lost. Most likely mining began around the mid 1800’s just like the rest of California and Oregon. 116,000 ounces were recorded from 1870 onward. Mining came to a slow in 1910 when the town of Hayden Hill burned to the ground. According to early mining reports the quartz vein system was never more than 300 ft deep and is part of a vein system that extended to Happy Camp. The main gold mines at Hayden Hill are known as the Blue Bell Mine, Brush Hill Mine, Uncle Billy Mine, North Star Mine, Golden Eagle Mine and the Evening Star Mine. On the west side of Hayden Hill was/is the Blue Bell Mine. To the east of the Hayden Hill Camp was/is a mine named Brush Hill Mine. On Willow Creek there was a 5 stamp mill.

The Diamond Mountain Mine is located 7 miles south of Susanville. At first placer gold was discovered and worked. Later quartz veins were worked out of granite. At least half of the production came from placer deposits in the area. The Diamond Mountain area is located in T. 29 N., Rs. 11 and 12 E. Another nearby mine that was mostly low grade was known as the Gold Belt Mine.

Shasta County California Gold

Gold mining  in the County of Shasta has produced well over two million ounces of gold since 1880, and an unrecorded amount from 1849 until 1879. Gold was first discovered in Shasta County California on Clear Creek in 1848 by a man by the name of P.B. Reading. Shasta County was one of the primary counties during the initial California Gold Rush, where there was a lot of gold found and is continues to be found to this day.  In the French Gulch District, was established the Washington Mine, which is one of the oldest continuously operating gold mines in the United States.

Gold in Shasta County – Other area’s in the county that a producers of gold include Harrison Gulch, near Platina and was/is a lode mine. About five miles north of Redding, near Walker Mine Road, is Iron Mountain also known as Old Diggings. Also check Shasta Creek, Squaw Creek, west of Whiskeytown. Placer deposits have been found in the Sacramento River and many tributaries. Some of which include Cottonwood Creek, and Rock Creek.

A 2 lb. gold nugget was found by Waldo Elmore on his claim in the Flat Creek Mining District in the 1890s. In 1878, a 13 oz. crystallized chunk of gold was taken from the Mad Mule Mine and exhibited at the 1878 Paris Exposition. In 1912. a 19½ oz. nugget and another nugget honeycombed with gold valued at $10,000 was found in Mad Mule Canyon. In 1870, three miners found a 184.5 oz. gold nugget on Spring Creek a short distance below the falls near the Iron Mountain Railway crossing.  In 1880, another even larger than the 1st was found about 100 ft. away. A 5 lb. 1 oz. nugget was found in Mad Ox Canyon, and a 7 to 8 lb. lump of gold intertwined with quartz was found in Whiskey Creek, years unknown. In 1851, a 56 oz. gold nugget was found in Whiskey Creek.

Shasta County was not only known for gold, but also as being the single most important county for copper production in the United States and was called heavily upon during World War II. While other places ceased mining production and declared as non-essential, Copper Mining was essential and there was an increased effort to recover copper for the United States, because copper was in short supply. Without the vast reserves in the copper belts of  Shasta County, who knows how the war would have turned out. Shasta county’s total copper production is over an astounding seven hundred million pounds of the total amount of copper taken.

A large variety of minerals are found in Shasta County and are a result of many geologic instances going on in the same region. Crammed into this county is part of coastal range, Cascade Range, the Klamath Mountains, the Modoc Plateau, and the Great Valley. Because of this there is a great contrast throughout the county and different minerals. A large coal deposit known as the Mountain Creek Coal Field near Redding, is a good example of the diversity of minerals within the county. Of another note, there are many fossils that can be found in sedimentary deposits in the throughout the county as well. The valley was once covered by water and the valley floor consists of a lot of sand of sedimentary gravels.

When I was a kid, I visited the Shasta City, while visiting famiy, which is located in the Northern Mining District of Shasta County. It was here as a boy that gold mining first sparked my interest. There are many attractions including an old courthouse and mercantile, as well as many other sites. Here is a link to the official site that has directions…..Shasta City There are a lot of things to see such as an old prairie scooner and a lot of exhibits. If my memory serves me well, there was also a place for hanging a noose around a criminals neck.

The following is an excerpt from Free Public information:

French Gulch

Location. This district lies astride the Shasta-Trinity County line in the general vicinity of the town of French Gulch and includes the Deadwood area to the west. It is the most important lode-gold district in the Klamath Mountains.

History. French Gulch was originally prospected in 1849 by French miners, from whom the town received its name in 1856. Clear Creek, which drains the area, yielded large amounts of placer gold at this time. The Washington mine, discovered in 1852, was the first quartz mine worked in Shasta County. From around 1900 to about 1914 the output for the district averaged between $300,000 and $500,000 worth of gold per year. There was some activity during the 1920s and 1930s, and there has been minor prospecting and development work since. The value of the total output of the district is estimated at more than $30 million.

Geology. The district is underlain predominantly by slate, shale, and siltstone of the Bragdon Formation (Mississippian). Copley Greenstone (Devonian) lies to the northeast and south, and, to the southwest, there is quartz diorite of the Shasta Bally batholith. In addition, numerous porphyritic quartz diorite and diorite dikes, locally known as “birdseye porphyry”, occur.

Ore Deposits. The quartz veins usually strike west, with a few northwest exceptions, and range from a few inches to several feet thick. They are predominantly in the rocks of the Bragdon Formation and often occur near or adjacent to the dikes, which apparently have had some effect on the localization of the ore bodies. The latter consist of numerous parallel stringers rather than a single massive vein. Calcite is commonly present in the veins. The ore contains coarse, free gold usually associated with considerable pyrite and smaller amounts of galena, sphalerite, arsenopyrite, chalcopyrite, and occasionally scheelite. Numerous high-grade pockets have been recovered here. A number of large ore bodies occur in the district, several of which were more than 1000 feet long.

Mines. Accident, American $300,000, Army Batch, Blue Jay, Bright Star, Brown Bear $15 million, Brunswick $100,000, Calmich, Centennial, El Dorado, Fairview $200,000, Gambrinus $125,000, Gladstone $6.9 million, Henry Clay $100,000 to $300,000, Highland $300,000, Honeycomb, Jacoby, J.I.C., Larry, Mad Mule $1 million, Mad Ox $500,000, Milkmaid and Franklin $2.5 million, Montezuma 7,150+ ounces, Mt. Shasta 8,500 ounces, Niagara $1 million, Niagara Summit, Philadelphia, St. Jude $280,000+, Scorpion 7,140 ounces, Summit $200,000, Sybel $600,000, Three Sisters $100,000, Tom Green, Truscott, Venecia $500,000, Vermont and Montezuma, Washington $2.5 million.

Excerpt from: Gold Districts of California, by: W.B. Clark, California Department of Conservation, Division of Mines and Geology, Bulletin 193, 1970.

California Update: Booming is Allowed. (Conditions do apply)

From Dave McCracken:

A recent written letter from the California Department
of Fish & Game clarifies that booming is not subject
to the suction dredging moratorium, providing the activity
is not used to excavate material from the bottom of an
active waterway!

Booming is the term we use to describe when a suction
device is used to feed material into the recovery
system of a high-banker up out of the active waterway.

Read all about this great news, along with a wonderful
video-enhanced story about several of our members who
are finding ounces of gold with their high-banker.

This months Newsletter can be found at:

For those of you who are not yet members, please consider the
special half-price offer on Associate Membership that we are
extending to our Internet subscribers:

If you are new to our newsletter, you can read some recent
back issues here:

All the best,
Dave Mack

The New 49er’s, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039, USA

Sutter’s Mill – California’s First Gold Discovery

John Sutter

In 1839, Captain John Sutter, of German ancestry settled in California with the intention of growing a agricultural empire in the fertile hills of the Sacramento Valley. It was here that Sutter built a fort to protect his assets. After ten years Sutter had acquired a great deal of wealth. He owned twelve hundred head of cattle, and had over one hundred men under his employ.

Sutters Fort

His plans were to build a flour mill to provide flour for all the settler’s who were coming out to California from back east.  To build the flour mill, Sutter needed lumber. John Sutter hired a jack of all trades James Marshall to build him a lumber mill. Workers built a large ditch to carry the water through the saw mill. In building the ditch, it had been dug out to exposed  bedrock. It was here on January 24, 1848 that James Marshall found gold on the bedrock. Marshall thought twice about bending over and picking it up, but he did. along with several smaller pieces. He rode forty miles that day to show the pieces of gold to John Sutter.

James Marshall

John Sutter and James Marshall was not sure if it was really gold. They both decided to keep it a secret from outsiders, however, one of the workers went out for a drink at a local saloon, and not having any cash on hand, reached into his pocket and plunked down a shiny yellow nugget that he found in a nearby stream. “That is money. It is gold” he declared. Before long word got around.

Sutters Saw Mill

A Mormon by the name of Sam Brannon (which knew a thing or two about supply and demand), hearing of the gold traveled to San Francisco and bought up everything he could that he thought gold miners might need, such as shovels and picks. Brannon then systematically started the California Gold Rush, by shouting and marching up and down in the streets of San Francisco; “Gold in the American River, Gold in the American River, Gold, Gold!” When news of the discovery reached Oregon two-thirds of all men who were able to work, packed up and left for California. These men who went in search of gold, were now called “Prospectors”.

Sam Brannon

In those days news still traveled fastest by ship. People in China heard about the news, before the people of the east coast. Because the news was slow to travel the prospectors earned the nickname “the 49ers” rather than the name “the 48ers.” For it was 1849, when the influx of men from the east coast showed up in droves.  By 1852, the population of California had multiplied a ten times from the original estimate of 25,000 people who had lived there before the discovery. In 1852, the population was swelled well over 250,000 people, in that short span of time.

The news of the gold strike in California spread suddenly when news reached the east coast. The United States was in the middle of a bad depression. The news and the gold, boomed the economy.

There were three routes from the east coast region to the gold fields of California. By a overland wagon-train, which took over a six months journey, by ship around South America, which also could take six months, or by sea and land across the ismus of Panama, the shortest route, yet the most costly. Many men died of hunger or stricken with disease trying to reach the gold fields. When the first ships docked in San Francisco sailors joined prospectors, abandoned their ships and rushed to the gold fields. For poor people, California gold seemed to be the chance at making something for themselves, an adventure and a chance of a lifetime.

An early image of some of the first Gold Prospectors in California

Once the Gold Prospectors had arrived in California they had to endure the rain, the winter weather, the elements of nature, along side the back breaking work in order to find the gold. A man was his own boss, who did not take orders from some other man, so enduring these things seemed worth it to some. The 49ers traveled to the gold fields and discovered the gold barring rock that later became known as the Motherlode. In 1849, $10,000,000 worth of gold came out of California. In all, the major gold rush of California lasted only ten years. In 1852, more gold came out of California than the whole federal budget of the United States.

James Marshall, the man who found that first gold nugget in the American  River at Sutter’s Mill, searched for another gold strike, but it was in vane. He spent his the rest of his life as a drunk and broke. John Sutter’s agricultural empire was destroyed. Most, if not all of his one hundred employees left for the gold fields. Sutter wrote in his diary of what could have been: “By the sudden discovery of the gold, all my great plans was destroyed. If I’d succeeded a few years before the gold was discovered, I would have been the richest citizen of the Pacific shore. Instead of being rich, I am ruined.”

There were other gold miners who never gave up on finding a strike, and there were other gold strikes all over the world for the next half century. At each strike, the men migrated to the next great prospect.

Senate Bill 670 Setback

By Jerry Hobbs | PLP President

In a setback for suction dredging rights, Federal Judge Morrison England did not rule on the merits of the Public Lands for the People (PLP) vs. California Senate Bill 670 (SB 670) case on Feb. 26, even though PLP had the 1850 California Admissions to the Union which stated that the State could not interfere with the disposal of Federal lands. PLP felt that the State had relinquished its immunity rights on this particular issue.  This also moots the scheduled injunction on March 25.

There is no reason for us spend the time to attempt to second-guess Judge England’s motives for his decision, but I did feel that he already had his mind made up.

The alternative then, and now, was to file in State Court and file the case as a related case with the case on Hillman Karuk, and that injunction, to prevent the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) from issuing a permit. This case was before Judge Frank Roesch. We already know how much Judge Roesch likes miners.

Now Judge England, in the Federal lawsuit against SB 670 and the State of California, says that we have our remedy in State Court and again we will have to file a related case to the Hillman case going before Judge Roesch. We thought we should be heard in a Federal Court.

We will take a few days and mull over the direction we must go and move in that direction. We will update you as to what is decided but we have no intention of giving up. I apologize for not being successful on this Federal Court issue but no one can second-guess any judge’s reason for an unfair decision.

Thanks for you support and patience!

Humboldt County California Gold

California gold is always found in the beach sands in some quantity along the California coast and the same is true for Humboldt County. In historic times the area known as Gold Bluff, hence the name, was a popular place for miners to try to strike it rich and it was believed by some that thousands of pounds of gold were there waiting right on the beach and washed up onto it’s shores by the ocean. Although there is some gold within the beach sands here this proved too good to be true for the mining methods of the day, since early miners had little knowledge of how to separate the small particles of gold from the sand effectively. The area today is known as Trinidad State beach and area, but at the time it had caused a mini gold rush around 1852. If your looking for beach gold also check out, Big Lagoon to the north

Klamath River

The popular Klamath River has placer gold found along it’s entire stretch, and is well known for abundant nuggets and flakes. Orleans Bar is an area where many hydraulic operations were performed in the past. The mouth of the Klamath River is a popular place to find good concentrations of beach gold. The Klamath River runs from Klamath County in Oregon into Siskiyou County, California and stretches into both Del Norte and Humboldt Counties.

Trinity River

The Trinity River is the longest tributary of the Klamath River and is a very good gold producing river.  Good placer deposits can be located everywhere along the river. Gold producing tributaries of the the Trinity River include Coffee Creek, New River, Indian Creek, Willow Creek, Hayford Creek and the East Fork. Environmental groups have been targeting the Trinity River and falsely charging that dredging  is having a environmental impact upon water species within the river. It is ironic, that the Trinity River is a very popular gold mining river in California and is also world renown for it’s salmon and steelhead fishing.

Also see Trinity County Section.

Map of the Trinity River and Klamath River watersheds. The Trinity River is shown in dark blue, with its watershed highlighted in dark yellow. The South Fork Trinity River extends southward, while the main Trinity River curves east then north.

Gold Mines

Lode gold mines are found mostly in the northeastern part of the county, but gold can be generally found through out Humboldt County. Some of the gold mines in the County include the Red Cap Mine located on Red Cap Creek just north of Eureka, California consisted of ten or more quartz veins containing gold.  On Willow Creek, tributary of the Trinity River, is where the Bonneyville Quartz Mine was located. Near Orleans, is where you will find the the Little Klondike Mine, and in nearby Pearch Creek, is where other quartz gold deposits were found. Other Humboldt County mines include Big Bar Annex Placer Mine, Croton Bar, Cavanaugh Mine, China Flat Placer Mine (found in Trinity River Area), Bissel Mine (also known as Clover Flat), Coleman Placer Mine, Delaney Group of Mines, Harveston Bar Mine, and the Prospect Hill Mine.

Del Norte County California Gold

Fine particle beach gold can be found on the Del Norte County beaches. Del Norte County is home to the famous Redwood forests. There are some undeveloped quartz veins that are privately owned at the Northeastern part of the county in the Klamath Mountains. It is unknown or pure speculation as to how rich these quartz veins might be. The Klamath River stretches from Oregon into Siskiyou County and into Del Norte County is known for some placer gold along the path of the river and in the river itself.

Smith River Forks

Smith River also has placer gold deposits. On the South Fork of the Smith River, which had large scale dredging operations, is Coon Creek, which has been another dredging operation in the past, and gold is found in the cemented gravels of the creek and gravel bars. There were several dredging operations conducted on the South Fork of the Smith River and tributaries. One mile south of Douglas Park is the where the Nels Christensen Mine is located.

Smith River area

On the north side of Preston Peak, is where the Bartlett Mine is located, which was a quartz vein mine.   The Crescent City Mine, which was also a quartz lode mine is also located in Del Norte County near Crescent City. Last Chance Mine was a major producer of gold in the past. 30 miles Northeast of Crescent City is the Low Divide District, which was a primary location for copper deposits, but there are some placer gold to be found here.  There were numerous hydraulic placer claims worked sometime in the past, throughout the county. On Upper Monkey Creek there was a lode deposit, and there is some gold to be found in the creek.

Other mines the county were the Hard Luck Mine, which also produced arsenic. The Monumental Group of mines were major producers of vein gold as well as the  Myrtle Creek Mine. Placers can be found in Myrtle Creek and area, and in the past large dredging operations took place here. The Prudential Mine which is found at Shelly Creek, was a major producer. On Craigs Creek, placer gold has been recovered, along with platinum. French Hill is a producer of placer gold deposits.

Siskiyou County California Gold

There are many, many places that have historically produced gold in Siskiyou County and many gold prospecting locations are available for recreation. Upwards towards two million ounces of gold were taken from Siskiyou County, located at the top of the State of California.  Siskiyou County has an amazing number of gold mines; some active and others none active, and still some that have long caved in. The number of gold mines in the county is upwards towards three hundred and seventy.

Klamath River

The Klamath River is one of the more note-able gold producing rivers in Siskiyou County and flows from Klamath County in Oregon. Placer gold deposits can be found upon the entire length of the river. A lot of the area along the river is claimed, but the mining club, the new 49ers offers use of it’s many claims along the Klamath River with membership. Many of the tributaries that flow into the Klamath offer good California gold.

Scott River

The Scott River is actually a tributary of the Klamath River, and offers good gold all along it’s path. Near Callahan there were numerous gold mines and placer operations. Many of the mines near Callahan had small, but rich pocket gold discoveries. In the area, the Martin McKeen Mine was a note-able producer, as well as the Porphyry Dike Mine. Both produced tens of thousands of ounces of lode gold. Other mines include the Blue Jay Mine, and the Copper King Mine which was a silver mine with gold as a byproduct.

In the Fort Jones area, you will find Cottonwood Creek and Rancheria Creek. Both were major producers of California gold and produced over four million dollars from 1850 to 1859 with industrial large scale dredges . Many lode mines are in the Fort Jones area, including the Golden Eagle Mine which was a large producer.

Salmon River

Another major tributary of the Klamath River is the Salmon River. The lower part of the Salmon River marks the border between Siskiyou County and Humbolt County. The Salmon River is also world famous for it’s steelhead and salmon fishing. There are two forks on the Salmon, the north fork and the south fork. At one point between the two forks is an area known as Sawyers Bar, where over a million ounces of gold was reported to have been recovered.


There are many gold mines found around Yreka. Interestingly, it has been reported that gold nuggets have been found within city limits; some weighing as much as four ounces have been found after winter floods of the Shasta River.

Modoc County California Gold

In Modoc County, near the Oregon border there are several small gold mines that overlap into Oregon’s Lake County, near Fairport, California. You might try the surrounding streams for placer deposits and Modoc County Gold.

In the Modoc National Forest is the High Grade National Recreation Trail. On the trail there are remains of gold mines, old gold mine tailings, ditches and even a few standing buildings from the mining period from around 1912. There is a ghost town here as well, aptly named High Grade, and is privately owned. High Grade is located in a canyon above Fort Bidwell, as seen on the map. This area represents the biggest gold rush of Modoc County, but did not last long.

Rockhounds may want to check out Surprise Valley found in the high northeast corner of Modoc County near the Oregon and Nevada borders. Here at this ancient lake bed you can find fossils, petrified wood and obsidian glass.

California Gold

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