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.

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