Flowing down from beautiful Yosemite Valley the Merced River skirts by the Rancho las Mariposas, a former Mexican land grant once owned by the famous explorer and leader of the California Battalion in the War with Mexico, John C. Fremont. 44,386 acres of land once thought to be the richest body of land belonging to a single person in the world, and Fremont, for whom Thomas Larkin had bought the property from ex-governor Juan Batista Alvarado for $3,000, was at first extremely unhappy with it’s location.
Deep in a wilderness bounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the San Joaquin, Chowchilla and Merced Rivers, it was occupied by unfriendly Indians and lay over a hundred miles from the nearest settlement. But after Fremont learned of the discovery of gold at Coloma he changed his mind when gold was also found in the region of the Rancho las Mariposas, but he was powerless to stop the thousands of miners who flooded in.
John Putnam is the author of Hangtown Creek, a thrilling saga of the early California gold rush.