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El Dorado County Gold Mining

El Dorado County California

Gold Mining in California – El Dorado County

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:

  • The Alpine Mine, a large lode gold mine, was located two miles southeast of Georgetown. It operated in the 1860’s until 1938.
  • The Black Gold Mine was a placer gold, drift mine in Pleasant Valley. It was active in 1930-31 and 1936.
  • Just east of the town of Kelsey was the Dalmatia (Kelly) Mine, a large lode gold mine. It was operated in the 1880’s, 1890-94 and again in 1935.
  • The Eagle King mine was a lode gold mine located one-half further north of Grizzly Flat. The mine was active from 1894-1896.


El-Dorado County California Gold

  • Fort Yuma was the name of a lode gold mine on Big Canyon Creek, two miles northeast of Brandon Corner (east of Latrobe). It was active from 1890-1902 and again in 1938.
  • The Frog Pond and Marigold Consolidated Mine was a lode gold mine one-half mile northwest of Garden Valley. The mine was active from 1914 – 27.
  • The Funny Bug (Pendelco) Mine was a lode gold mine located one mile southwest of Goldhill, on the north bank of Weber Creek. It was active from 1928 to 1942.
  • The Gambling (also known as Gamblin) Mine was a lode gold mine located two miles southwest of Fair Play. It was active in 1915-18 and 1933-34.
  • One of the larger lode gold mines was the Griffith Consolidated it was composed of eight claims and located one-half mile south of Diamond Springs. Originally worked in the 1850’s, it was actively worked from 1888-90, in 1896 and 1903.
  • One of the large lode gold mines which just recently closed was the Hazel Creek Mine, located fifteen miles east of Placerville and two miles southeast of Pacific House on Hazel Creek. Mining started in 1948 till around 1956.
  • The Hoosier Gulch Dredge was a placer gold mining operation by the Hoosier Gulch Placers Company, using a dragline dredge in Logtown Ravine (south of the town site of El Dorado) in 1939 and near Shingle Springs in 1945 and 1947.
  • The Idlewild or Taylor Mine was a large, lode gold mine on the Mother Lode two miles northwest of Garden Valley. Originally worked in 1865, it was active again from the late 1880’s to about 1902. Some additional work was done at the mine during the years 1939-41.
  • The Jones (Good Luck) Mine was a lode gold mine two miles south of Diamond Springs. It was active in 1915 and during 1922-23.
  • The Joseph Skinner (Fisk, Porphyry) Mine was a seam gold mine on the Mother Lode, one mile north of Placerville. It was active 1896-98, 1901-03 and 1932.
  • The Kumfa or Kum Fa Mine was a placer gold drift mine at Smith’s Flat (Smithflat). It was active from 1911-13 and also in 1928 and 1936.
  • Five miles south of Shingle Springs was a lode gold mine known as the Log Cabin (Darrow) Mine. It was active in 1894-96.
  • The Lookout Mine was a lode gold mine on the Mother Lode, some three miles southwest of El Dorado. It was intermittently active from 1860 through the 1930’s.
  • The Maple Leaf (Blakely) Mine was a placer gold mine located two miles west of Camino near Five Mile House. Originally active in the 1880’s, it was reopened from 1932 to 1935.


  • One mile east of Greenwood was the Ohio (Eagle) Mine, a lode gold mine it was active in 1894-96.
  • The One Spot (Sailor Jack) Mine was a placer gold, drift mine one mile south of Camino. It was active in the “early days of gold rush”, and reactivated in 1934-38.
  • Three miles south of the town site of El Dorado was another lode gold mine, the Red Wing (Red Top) Mine. It was first active from 1914 to 1922 and again in 1926.
  • Three miles southeast of Placerville, at Texas Hill, was a placer gold, drift mine known as the Rising Hope Mine. It was active from 1910 to 1920 and again in 1929.
  • One mile north of Georgetown, in the Georgia Slide area, was a placer gold mine known as the Sailor Slide Mine. It was active from 1919 to 1922.


  • One mile north of Greenwood was a seam gold mine known as the Sam Martin Mine. It was active in 1894-96.
  • The Santa Rosa Mine was a placer gold; drift mine on Hopkins Creek, one mile east of Volcanoville. It was operating during the years 1894 through 1896.
  • One mile north of Placerville was the Sherman Mine, a lode gold mine. It was active in 1905 and 1908-11.
  • Three miles northwest of Slate Mountain (southeast of Georgetown) was the Slate Mountain Mine, a lode gold mine. It was active from 1921 to 1941 and again in 1951.
  • The St. Lawrence Mine was a lode gold mine on the Mother Lode, one and one-half miles southeast of Garden Valley. It operated from 1867 to 1878
  • The Starlight Mine was a lode gold mine on Logtown Ridge, two and one-half miles south of the town site of El Dorado. It was active from 1890 to 1894.
  • Two miles southeast of Placerville, between Chili Ravine and Weber Creek, was a placer gold, drift mine known as the Stewart Mine. It was active in the 1880’s and early 1890’s.


  • The Taylor Mine, also known as the Idlewild Mine, was a large, lode gold mine on two miles northwest of Garden Valley (one publication says four miles). Originally worked in 1865, it was active again from the late 1880’s to about 1902. Some additional work was done at the mine during the years 1939-41.
  • One mile south of Rattlesnake Bridge, immediately east of the Zantgraf Mine, was the Threlkel (Winton) Mine, a lode gold mine. It was active in 1924-26 and again in 1937.
  • At Smith’s Flat, east of Placerville, was a placer gold, drift mine known both as the Toll House and Hook and Ladder Mine. It was originally active prior to 1890, in the 1890’s and from 1918 until 1932.
  • The Victoria Mine was a lode gold mine four miles northwest of the town of Rescue, near the Boulder Mine. It was active in 1924-26.
  • The Welch Mine was a lode gold mine one-half mile northeast of the town of Greenwood. It was active from 1894 through 1896.
  • The Wiedebush Mine was a lode gold mine located two miles south of Volcanoville. It was active during the years 1920 through 1926.
  • The Zentgraf (Montauk Consolidated, Zentgraf) Mine was a lode gold mine located one mile south of Rattlesnake Bridge on the east side of the American River, six miles southwest of Pilot Hill. This mine was first worked in 1880 and by the year 1888, it was in full operation and since 1938, the mine has effectively been idle.

Plumas County Gold Mining

Gold Mining in California – Plumas County

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 River’s southwestern course toward Mt. Lassen and the Feather River region to Lassen’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 water’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 Stoddard’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, Poorman’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 1920’s and 1930’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 Valley’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 1900’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.
Copper Mining
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.

Plumas Eureka Mine Gold Miners
Plumas County Gold Producing Waterways
There are many gold producing streams and rivers in Plumas County, and some areas are likely unexplored, but here are some waterways that are widely known for past gold production.

Gold Mining in California - Feather River Gold

A very nice find from a lucky person prospecting the Feather River.

Feather River Along the North Fork of the Feather River, near Belden, are placer deposits.
Yuba River The Ancient Yuba River channel traced northeast of La Porte for 10 miles 500 to 1,500 feet wide and 10-130 feet deep, with placer gold concentrated in the lower part 2 ft. above bedrock, it is a very rich placer deposit.
Indian Creek At Rich Bar, the area gravels along Indian Creek, a tributary of the Feather River, has very rich placers.
Area Attractions
The Plumas-Eureka State Park offers a supervised gold panning program during the summer. Call (530) 836-2380 for more information.
The Golden Caribou Mining Association offers gold panning lessons and equipment usage for first-time gold panners. It operates out of Caribou Crossroads Campground and Cafe, located on Caribou Road just off Highway 70, 27 miles west of Quincy. The club has more than 1,800  acres of gold mining claims in the Plumas National Forest and offers memberships for vacationers, as well as one-year trial and lifetime memberships.
The Advanced Geologic Gold Prospector’s Club based in Chester offers members access to claims throughout the county, along with equipment usage.  Call (530) 258-4228 for more information.

Gold Mining in California - Plumas County

Plumas County Map

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!