California Gold Mining, published by Currier & Ives,1871, courtesy Library of Congress.
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.
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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.
Butlers instincts were right, as after a days work, his gold pan
would be filled with gold nuggets. Some said that a days 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
Butlers 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.
Today, those buried caches are thought to still be hidden in Amador County.
Mormon Pioneers, courtesy Library of Congress.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.From the 1850s to the 1880s 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 1850s hydraulic mining began in the region which continued through the 1880s.
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 Peyrons 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, Peyrons buried cache has not been found.