California 1848, gold discovered over a vast area

Trinity River CA

Soon after John Bidwell visited Coloma in March he realized that on his ranch near the Feather River he had seen similar indications of gold. P.D. Reading also went to the sawmill and came to the same conclusion about his property at the far northern end of the Sacramento Valley. He returned home and soon found gold along Clear Creek. Later, on the Trinity River, he came across a large gold deposit but was forced from the spot by a party of men from Oregon who threatened the Indians working for him.

Yuba River at Bridgeport CA

Below Bidwell’s Bar on the Feather River, Sam Neal, from the Rancho Esquon on Butte Creek, found more gold across from Long’s Bar at Adamstown, and a man named Dye working with 50 Indians took 273 pounds of gold from the river in seven weeks. Miners quickly moved to the main tributary of the Feather, the Yuba River, where a group that included Jasper O’Farrell made $75,000 in three months. Gold also was found on the Bear River. In June John Sinclair hit pay dirt at the junction of the north and south forks of the American River. Mormons began work at Spanish Bar on the middle fork of the river 12 miles northeast of Coloma. In a ravine between the north and middle forks an Irishman with the unlikely handle of Yankee Jim found a rich deposit. A few miles away Iowa Hill and Illinoistown began. At another dry ravine off the American River the town of Auburn had its start. and Benjamin Kelsey mined north of Coloma near Chili Bar.

Knights Ferry bridge, Stanislaus River

South of the American River Charles Weber began mining along Weber Creek. On the North Fork of Weber Creek, William Daylor found a huge lode in a spot that would become Hangtown and later Placerville. In August Weber sent 25 Indians south to the Stanislaus River with instructions to mine there then take the gold to a trading post called French Camp on his ranch, where he soon returned and started the city of Stockton. John Murphy and William Knight started a trading post at Knight’s Ferry. Other men followed and Angels Camp, Jamestown and Don Pedro Bar were founded. Nearby three men, using only a pick and a knife made $200-300 per day each at Woods Creek. Mining boomed on the Mokelumne River in October as well as along the Consumnes, where Jose Pico made $14,000 in four months. Mexican miners found more gold along the Tuolumne River and the city of Sonora began. By winter almost the whole of the gold country had been explored, mostly by a small group of men already in California in 1848.

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