Gold Towns: Coloma

John Sutter, who owned a trading post in the Sacramento Valley, wanted a sawmill to produce board lumber. In August 1847 he sent his foreman James Marshall to a lovely little valley on the South Fork of the American River, which the native Nisenan Indians called “Ko-lo-ma.” Work on the sawmill soon Continue reading Gold Towns: Coloma

Gold Towns: Coarsegold

First called Texas Flat in 1849 by brothers from Texas who found coarse nuggets in nearby streams—including a single nugget worth $15,000—the name of the mining camp was changed several times between then and 1874. Over $1.5 million dollars was mined from the surrounding creeks and 18 recorded mines in Continue reading Gold Towns: Coarsegold

Gold Towns: Bodie

Once a good-sized mining settlement, today Bodie  is a ghost town preserved in a state of arrested decay.  Gold was discovered there in 1859, but it was not until 1875, when a mine cave-in revealed gold in quantity, that the town’s population expanded from 3,000 to about 10,000. It was named for the site’s 1859 discoverer William Continue reading Gold Towns: Bodie

Gold Towns: Bidwell’s Bar

In July 1848, John Bidwell discovered gold on the Middle Fork of the Feather River. The next year Bidwell’s gold camp became a bustling mining community as hundreds of miners congregated along the nearby rivers and streams. Merchants established stores to supply the miners’ needs and the Continue reading Gold Towns: Bidwell’s Bar

Gold Towns: Auburn

Frenchman Claude Chana discovered gold in Auburn Ravine in May 1848, while on his way from his home on the Bear River to Coloma. Hordes of prospectors and adventurers soon poured into Chana’s new discovery site, and the town that developed nearby in early 1849 was first known as North Fork Dry Diggings. Those early diggings were very rich: it was not unusual for a miner to take out $1,000 to $3,000 a day. It is thought that a large group of miners there, who had come to California with Stevenson’s Volunteer Regiment in 1846 from Auburn, New York, changed the town’s name to that of their hometown in the summer of 1849. In the spring of 1850, populous Auburn became the seat of Sutter County. Then in April 1851, Placer County was created from a portion of Sutter County, and Auburn was again chosen as the seat of the new county, as it remains. It has always been the center of extensive staging and freighting operations; during the 1860s and 1870s, Auburn also developed into a cultural and social center. Noteworthy places in historic Old Town Auburn include the three-story Auburn Hook and Ladder Company Fire House Number Two, the Auburn Post Office dating from 1852 (the oldest operating post office in California), the Empire Livery Stable, and the imposing Placer County Courthouse, built in 1894.  Auburn is a registered California Historical Landmark.