California has been known for the gold rush which started in 1848 when John Sutter found gold at his timber mill on the American River. The gold rush resulted in massive growth of the mining industry around California and as it became more prominent, the exploration expanded across the county using methods like hydraulic and drift mining. One of the most prominent gold mining areas is the El Dorado County were several gold mining companies were created. Below is the list of some of them:
Plumas County Mining History
Over the years a lot of gold has been recovered in Plumas County California. At the time of the gold discovery at Sutter’s Mill, Plumas County was largely an unexplored area by most white men, but Peter Lassen (whom Lassen County is named after ) had pioneered the Lassen Trail across northern Plumas in 1847.
In 1849, immigrant Thomas Stoddard arrived at a mining camp injured, exhausted, and starving. Thomas Stoddard caught everybody’s attention when he showed the men what he had. He had gold. He had gone out a year earlier with a group that used the Lassen Trail to explore the wilderness like many early explorers, beginning in west-central Nevada and ranging northwest toward Good Lake, Oregon until reaching the Pit River.
They followed the Pit Riverâ€™s southwestern course toward Mt. Lassen and the Feather River region to Lassenâ€™s Rancho near present-day Red Bluff. While in Big Meadows (Chester/Lake Almanor area), Stoddard and a partner left their party to hunt for deer. While they were hunting, their party moved on and Stoddard and his partner were unable to locate it. For several days, Stoddard and his companion wandered lost somewhere between Sierra Valley and Downieville. At some point, the pair stumbled upon a lake with large gold nuggets gleaming in the moss at the waterâ€™s edge. After gathering as much gold as their pockets could hold, the two exhausted men fell asleep.
The next morning, Native Americans attacked the two men. Stoddard was injured, and his companion was never heard from again. Stoddard worked his way through the mountains until he, at last, reached the North Fork of the Yuba River and the gold camps in the Downieville-Nevada City region. Stoddard told his tale to the miners and the search was on for Gold Lake. A multitude of anxious miners swarmed into the mountains seeking Gold Lake, in what would become Plumas and Sierra Counties.
The Plumas County California gold rush of 1850 was a direct result of Tom Stoddardâ€™s Gold Lake story. However, Stoddard would never again locate the lake and neither would the thousands of other hopeful prospectors that went in search of it. For the majority of miners who searched for Gold Lake, disappointment dominated. For others, their perseverance paid off with discoveries at Nelson Creek, Poormanâ€™s Creek, Hopkins Creek, Onion Valley, Rich Bar, and Butte Bar. All provided rich diggings. Equally rewarding was a series of five mining bars on the East Branch of the North Fork of the Feather River: Rich Bar, Indian Bar, Smith Bar, French Bar, and Junction Bar. A group known as the Wisconsin Company was among those seeking paydirt on Nelson Creek. Calling their site Meeker Flat after one of their members, they took out 93-pounds of precious metal in one period of three weeks.
Discoveries of rich gold deposits continued in Plumas County through at least 1852. Gold mining now is carried on as a recreational pursuit, but gold was the original Plumas County cornerstone. Most geologists concur that there is twice as much gold still remaining in the Plumas County area than was ever taken out of it.
During the 1920â€™s and 1930â€™s, Plumas County was Number One in state copper production. Engle Mine on Lights Creek in northern Indian Valley produced $25 million over its lifetime. Walker Mine, 15-miles south, produced $23 million. Jack and James Ford discovered copper outcroppings above the North Arm of Indian Valley during the Civil War, while others found similar deposits along Genesee Valleyâ€™s Ward Creek. The Chapman brothers, at their primitive smelter in Genesee Valley, further processed the rich, naturally concentrated metal. During more than 15 years of operation, Engle Mine yielded 117 million pounds of copper, along with substantial amounts of gold and silver.
In Plumas County during the 1900â€™s, gold was the lure for miners and copper was the bread and butter of the mineral industry. Now, little is left to be seen of these massive efforts. Secluded rock piles and overgrown hillside scars are pretty much all that remains. This goes to show that mother nature has a way of healing herself of any scars or traces from people and their activities.
Early Hydraulic Mines in Plumas County
From 1855 to approximately 1859 there was extensive hydraulic mining activity in Plumas County. About four and a half millions ounces of California Gold was recovered using this method. Some of the sites worth mentioning are Nelson Point, Sawpit Flat, Gopher Hill, and the Upper Spanish Creek mines.
Plumas County is also known for extensive copper mining. The Engles Copper mine and Superior Copper Mines produced gold as a by-product.
Crescent Mills District
The Crescent Mills District, located in township 26N, and Range 9E, at last report, has about 40,000 ounces taken from that area. In area streams, in Quaternary gravels, you will find placer gold.
Johnsville District & La Porte District
At the Green Mountain Mine, they produced 100,000 ounces of lode gold by 1890. In the Johnsville district, in the south-central part of the county, in east l/2 of township 22N. range 11E, they had a total production, 393,000 gold ounces. All regional stream and bench gravels contain placer gold. The Plumas-Eureka Gold Mine was a major producer of lode gold. At the La Porte district, in the southwest part of the county, in township 21N and range 9E, was the hydraulic mining center since the 1850s, with total production, 1855-1959, of 2,910,000 gold ounces. At Mumfords Mill the area copper mines had a by product of gold. At Spring Garden go northeast 9 miles and you will find the Walker Mine, primarily copper mine with a by product of gold.
There is gold throughout the county, not just the areas mentioned. All you have to do is go find it. Good luck finding some of the California Gold!