Gold Towns: Weaverville

Located 2,011 feet up at the foot of the present-day Trinity Alps Wilderness area, Weaverville sprang to life in what was one of the wildest and most inaccessible regions of California. So inaccessible, in fact, that the town didn’t receive stagecoach service until April 29, 1858. Before then, residents had to make their way on horseback to Shasta City to board public transportation. Nevertheless, Weaverville was once the center of great mining activity. Founded in the summer of 1850, it was named for John Weaver, a gold prospector who had arrived in the vicinity the prior year. In 1851 the camp consisted of one round tent and four log cabins, but two years later the settlement had grown so large that a hospital was established, and also a school—evidence of a number of resident families, several of whom established small farms and ranches. However, that year fire destroyed nearly half the town, and two more in 1855 burned 29 houses and many commercial buildings. Townspeople reconstructed with brick; by 1859 twenty brick buildings dotted the streets. Like other mining towns, Weaverville contained several saloons, and experienced its share of booms and busts and violence. Mining apparatus included gold pans, long toms, and rockers, until these techniques were later supplanted by hydraulic mining. The LaGrange mine just out of town was once the world’s largest hydraulic mining operation.  Home to 2,000 Chinese gold miners by 1854, the Chinese Tong War that year occupies a place of note in Weaverville’s history. Easily reached today via State Route 299, Weaverville is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Gold Towns: Sutter Creek

Prior to the Gold Rush, the site that became Sutter Creek was the “piney woods” locale where John A. Sutter, owner of a trading post in the Sacramento Valley, sent his employees in search of a source of lumber in 1846. Two years later, while gold-seekers were creating havoc to his settlement, Sutter himself yielded to the lure Continue reading Gold Towns: Sutter Creek

Gold Towns: Stockton

In 1847, German-born immigrant Charles Weber laid out a new town on the Rancho Campo de los Franceses, a Mexican Land grant of some 48,000 acres that he had purchased from his business partner, Guillermo Gulnac. Weber attracted a few settlers while mainly living in San Jose himself, where he was a successful Continue reading Gold Towns: Stockton

Gold Towns: Sonora

Originally known as Sonorian Camp, this gold town was founded in 1848 by a party of Mexicans from Sonora, Mexico, who were the sole occupants of the site for several months. In the spring of 1849, the first Americans arrived; in July some 1,500 immigrants, mostly from Mexico and Chile, poured into Tuolumne County. Continue reading Gold Towns: Sonora

Gold Towns: Sierra City

The majestic, jagged granite peaks of the Sierra Buttes rise almost a mile above the town. In Gold Rush days even these near-perpendicular peaks were climbed in search of gold, and there was feverish activity along the creeks that descend into the North Yuba River. The site was discovered in 1850. By 1852, tunnels Continue reading Gold Towns: Sierra City