Sutter Creek, a logging camp becomes a boomtown

Johann August Sutter

The town of Sutter Creek began as a logging camp used by John Sutter before the Mexican War, and takes its name from a stream that runs through the center of a valley where there was a good supply of timber. The work was hard and it was a long, difficult trip by wagon to the fort. It’s easy to see why a sawmill on the American River, where the lumber could be floated easily downstream, would appeal to Captain Sutter.

After the discovery of gold when most of his Mormon workers had left to mine, Sutter tried his hand at gold panning, going first to Mormon Island with a group of his Kanakas, men from Honolulu in the then Sandwich Islands. But so many people were working there that he went south to Sutter Creek where he thought he would be alone. Instead he complained of traveling grog shops where the Kanakas spent too much of their time and his money. Sutter soon returned to his fort.

Sutter Creek 1853

The placer mining along Sutter Creek was not as good as in other places and by 1850 the gold camp was nearly abandoned, but in 1851 gold bearing quartz deposits were found and Sutter Creek bloomed into a gold rush boom town. In the mid 1850s Leland Stanford took over a worn out mine as payment for a debt. He gave the operation a last chance to produce and a new ore vein was found. Stanford went on to become a railroad baron, Senator, Governor, and founder of Stanford University. Hard rock mining continued around Sutter Creek until 1951 when the Central Eureka Mine closed.

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