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Lost Treasures of Northern California
9 years ago

California Gold Mining

California Gold Mining, published by Currier & Ives,

1871, courtesy Library of Congress.

Butler’s Forgotten Claim

In the heart of Mother Lode country, Amador County, California was once crawling with prospectors. Near the very place where James Marshall first discovered gold at Sutter Creek, another profitable claim was being worked that may continue hold large amounts of gold buried close by.

     Please stay tuned for the next installment.....
9 years ago
At the foot of a deep gorge coming out of the mountains was a claim that was first owned by a group of African-American miners. The river was soon dammed so that the miners could work the smooth channel. However, there was no holding-place for the gold, so the entire party soon left – except for a man named Butler.

Seeing potential in the claim, Butler soon borrowed $600 from a man known as Uncle Pompey and opened another claim a little lower down in the bend.

9 years ago

Butler’s instincts were right, as after a day’s work, his gold pan would be filled with gold nuggets. Some said that a day’s work with a rocker would produce as much as $50,000 in gold. As word of the rich find got out, a number of men, anxious to have a share, hunted down Butler’s former partners, inducing them to sell their interests in the claim. This soon resulted in lawyers and lawsuits, all wanting a piece of the action.

Butler, a simple prospector, was overwhelmed by all the controversy and soon took sick with a fever and died. Afterwards, it was found that Butler had about $80,000 on deposit at Mokelumne Hill and a similar amount at Sacramento. However, his friends said that he was often known to bury his profits close to the site of the claim.
9 years ago

Today, those buried caches are thought to still be hidden in Amador County.

Gold Coins in Clear Creek

In the 1850’s a group of Mormon wagons were passing through the fertile valley of Redding, California on their way to the tiny settlement of Horsetown. However, in order to get there, they first had to cross Clear Creek, usually a quiet little stream. However, when they arrived, Clear Creek was nothing but quiet; rather, it was a muddy torrent of raging flood waters running off the nearby mountains. Forced to stop on the banks of the creek, they waited several days for the creek to settle down to its normal easily crossable state.
9 years ago
However, they were impatient to get to their destination and didn’t wait quite long enough. When the flash flood waters had slowed, but were not yet calm and shallow, they decided to cross. Most of the wagons made it across the river safely, but one wagon, belonging to a Mr. Bishop, met with disaster. Entering the swollen waters just a little downstream from the others, he quickly found the creek deeper in that particular area.

Mormon Pioneers

Mormon Pioneers, courtesy Library of Congress.

9 years ago

Soon, one of the wagon wheels fell into a deep hole and without warning, the wagon tipped on its side. Able to unhitch his team of horses, Bishop and the animals made it to safety, but the wagon was carried downstream.

Unfortunately for Bishop, his wagon was carrying a small wooden chest that was contained about $40,000 in gold coins. For days the Mormons searched along the river banks for the lost gold, but after about a week, they finally gave up and continued their journey to Horsetown. One the creek had fully returned to its quiet self, they returned several times to search for the lost coins, but were never successful in finding the chest.
9 years ago

The incident was then forgotten for decades until 1910, when a prospector named William Dreestelhorst found a ten dollar gold coin in his sluice box. The coin was stamped with the initials “SMV,” dated 1841, and the words  "California Gold" were inscribed around the rim. This meant the coin was privately minted by an assayer and was of the very same type the Mormons had lost some 60 years previously.

This began yet another search of Clear Creek, but again, no one found the lost cache of coins. Many believe that the lost Mormon treasure continues to be hidden along the banks of Clear Creek southwest of Redding, California.
9 years ago
California Gold Miners
Engraving of California gold miners, John Andrew, mid 1800's.

As in many places of the American West, the friction between the scores of men entering California during its Gold Rush days and the Indians was often bitter. Weary of the white men continuing to encroach upon their lands, the danger to travelers was very high when entering the California from the northeast.
9 years ago
As the California Trail proceeded south into the Sacramento Valley on the Pit River route, wagon trains and travelers were often ambushed by the natives. Bloody Springs, at the lower end of Spring Gulch, was the scene of numerous attacks, hence its name. Smaller groups were often wiped out.

On one such occasion an entire emigrant train was massacred by the
Indians. Only one man survived to tell the story. Finally, he made his way to Fort Crook, telling of how the train was carrying approximately $60,000 in $20 gold coins. Before he made his getaway, the man witnessed the Indians competing to see who could throw the shiny disks across the Pit River Gorge. The “contest” continued until each and every one of the gold coins was either in the river or lodged into the rock walls of the gorge.
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Today, an occasional gold piece is still found at Bloody Springs in Lassen County. Bloody Springs is located a few miles southeast of Pittsville above the banks of the Pit River.

Poker Flat Cache

From the 1850’s to the 1880’s Sierra County, California was crawling with prospectors in search of gold. The northernmost region of California's mother load, dozens of mining camps, with such names as Poverty Hill, Queen City, Port Wine and Poker Flat, sprouted up as prospectors searched for the glittering rocks in the streams of the area. By the late 1850’s hydraulic mining began in the region which continued through the 1880’s.
9 years ago

No doubt, during these affluent times, many a prospector and mine owner made their fortunes. But, they were not the only ones. Those storekeepers who catered to the miners’ needs also profited. One such man who gained wealth running his retail establishment was named Jerome Peyron. The storekeeper was known to have made frequent trips into the hills behind his store in Poker Flat where he buried his money.  However, when a Mexican Gang heard of Peyron’s hidden money, they converged upon his shop demanding to know its location. When the Peyron refused to tell them, he was murdered by the gang.


To this day, Peyron’s buried cache has not been found.

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