Mining law, the Northern mines

The Sweetland district in Nevada County was organized in 1850 and allowed thirty square feet per claim. Two years later claims of eighty by one hundred and eighty feet were the rule. Then in 1853, at a large miner’s meeting, the district was divided into three parts. In one of these parts, North San Juan, a few miles northeast of Nevada City, one claim could be held by location and an unlimited number by purchase. This aggregation of claims made possible the extensive hydraulic operations for which the area become known and into which many thousands of dollars were invested in equipment to wash untold acres of earth into sluices and then on into the rivers. Notices of claims had to be renewed every thirty days except when the owners or their agents were obviously present. The investment of five hundred dollars secured the claim for two years. The instrument of transfer for the sale of a claim had to be placed on record within a week.

The Monitor

In Brown Valley, Yuba County, in 1853, the miners held a meeting to overturn their mining laws, much like the miners in Jamestown had done. They instituted semi-annual meetings where the claim owner or his proxy had to be represented or the claim would be forfeited. The right of newcomers to a share of the mining ground was recognized early on in Yuba County. One old miner relates how he and his partner had discovered a rich spot in a remote canyon off the Yuba River and were doing quite well when they were visited by a delegation of men from across the ridge. These men proposed that each one be given a strip of land that fronted ten feet along the river and went back three hundred feet. As this was the custom of the time, the old miner and his partner had to agree, and the only advantage they were allowed was the first choice of the claims.

Yuba River at Bridgeport CA

After quartz mining began near Oroville in the winter of 1850-51 rules to cover the new mines were adopted and soon spread through the territory. In a meeting at Nevada City in 1852 laws were passed that applied to all claims and quartz mines in Nevada County. These rules allowed each claim to be one hundred feet along the ledge including ‘all dips, spurs, and angles.’ The discoverer of the claim was allowed two hundred feet. The claim had to be staked within three days, recorded within ten days and twenty days of labor or work to the value of one hundred dollars done in the first thirty days. A similar amount of work had to be done every year until a company could be formed and a mill to process the ore, and worth five thousand dollars, contracted for after which the county recorder was to give the mining company the deed to the property thereby guarantying possession.

Quartz Stamp Mill

The code Sierra County adopted in 1855 fixed the size of quartz claims at two hundred feet along the lode by five hundred feet, required one hundred dollars of work be done every year, and, as did Nevada County, allowed only non-citizens who had paid the foreign miner’s tax to hold claims. In 1857 Sacramento County adopted laws similar to those in Nevada County but allowed foreigners who had declared their intention to become citizens to hold claims.



Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.