The gold ends at the San Joaquin River

South of the Merced River the number of important mining locations declined greatly with only a few favorable sites along small streams near the San Joaquin River where it flows down from the Sierra Nevada in a westerly direction before turning north to run through California’s Central Valley. These sites paid those who worked them but there were no spectacular placer or quartz deposits found there that could be compared with those to the north. And just as it did at the Pit River in the Northern mines, the gold gave out in the south at the San Joaquin River

And so it was noted back then by so many miners that both the Northern and Southern mines, almost mirror images of one another, each standing at one end of the vast gold producing region of California, were each guarded by a towering snow-capped giant. Off to the north, overlooking the Feather and Yuba Rivers, stood the sky piercing Mount Shasta, visible for miles in all directions. While in the south, standing watch over the Tuolumne River and the Merced River, was the hulking mass of Mount Whitney. Two stalwart peaks that symbolize the might of the Sierra Nevada Mountains from which, in the minds of many miners of that day, the very gold they sought had washed down in the mighty rivers that flowed from the mountains above.

Mount Whitney by w:user:geographer



  1. jim calderwood says

    I was at Kaiser Creek today near the Dunlap gold mine and the Kaiser diggings. The brush is so thick it’s hard to hike in that area but it sure is beautiful. I wish I could find some books on the gold mining history of that area or old maps.

    • Thanks for writing, Jim and you’re right. That is a beautiful area. In the early days of the gold rush everybody was busy digging the gold. There was no infrastructure to record what they did, but a lot of information can still be found at local libraries and at the state colleges. In the parks the rangers can be real helpful too. Good luck. When you start digging around in gold country you never know what you’ll find.

  2. Robert Rhoads says

    El Dorado County California Gold Production
    From 1880 through 1959, a total of 1,267,700 ounces of gold was mined in the county. From 1903, when systematic recording began, through 1958, about 190,600 ounces was mined from placers, and 534,000 ounces, from lode mines; data before 1880 have not been found.

    SOUTH of the San Joaquin River

    Kern County California Gold
    Gold was discovered in Kern County in 1851 in Greenhorn Gulch, near the Kern River, by a member of General Fremont’s party. Mining began in 1852 at the Keyes and Mammoth mines in the Keyes district. From 1880 through 1959 about 1,777,000 ounces of gold was mined, mostly from lode deposits. The major districts are the Amalie, Cove, Green Mountain, Keyes, Rand, and Rosamond-Mojave.

    I would think the gold did extend south of the the San Joaquin River. My GG Grandfather did quite well on the Piute Mtns. of Kern County. The Kern River’s head waters are off of Mt. Whitney’s melt.

    Just saying this, as the Southern Sierras were and still are full of gold in some places but are overlooked in folklore and history in favor of the northern mines…

    • Thanks for this detailed information, Robert. It’s great to hear from someone who has such a personal involvement in mining. Now, of course, gold has been found in California from Oregon to the Mexican border, but the first gold was actually found near LA in 1842 And there is still a lot of unmined gold in California.

Speak Your Mind


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