The Huge Nugget That Was Split in Two

Here is another famous story of one of the largest gold nuggets that were found in California. In a drift mine on an ancient river channel at Remington Hill, in Nevada County, in 1856, the miners discovered half of a smoothly washed bolder of gold bearing quartz which yielded $4,672.50 (226 ounces). The nugget was smooth on all the rounded sides, but had one side that consisted of a flat, rough, broken face. It was clear there had once been another part attached to the nugget. At the time the chunk was found it was remarked that this other half of the rich bolder might possibly be found somewhere on the same claim. In 1858, two years after the first find, the owners of the mine had a hired man who was engaged to work underground in drifting and digging out the pay dirt in the mine. One day this man unexpectedly announced that he was going to leave - that he was quitting to go down to Nevada City and try his luck for a time. The man was paid his wages and, shouldering his blankets, he took his departure. After he had been gone only a short time one of the partners who owned the mine was struck with a strange thought. He said to the other: "It is strange that this fellow should all at once quit work here, where he had a steady job at as good wages as he can find anywhere in the country.

I wonder if he has not found the other half of that boulder?"
"Well, what are you going to do about it?"  replied his partner.
"I am going to mount a horse and follow him. I am confident that I shall find that chunk of gold in his possession, and I will make him surrender it with very little ceremony”.



"So! All right; you may have my half of all you realize from this questionable venture. But remember, if you fail, you will place yourself in a very unenviable light in the eyes of an honorable man by reason of an unjust suspicion. I imagine that a few hours from now I will see you coming back here tired, crestfallen and with the barometer of your self-respect having fallen several points."

Mounting his horse, the man who had the "suspicions" took the road to Nevada City with a six-shooter stuffed into his belt. When he overtook his former employee, he asked him to throw down and open out his roll of blankets. The fellow was at first quite indignant and inclined to be ugly, but when he saw a loaded revolver pointed at his head he cried out:
"I cave. Now, how in creation did you find out that I'd got hold of the other half of that nugget?"
"Guessed it," said the mine owner. "Shell her out.”

Down went the blanket and out came a big golden nugget. Sure enough, it was the other half of the boulder. Taking the chunk, the owner told the man to "get;" that as he had met with a great temptation he was forgiven and not turned over to the law. The second half of the nugget thus received produced $4,430.75, making a total for the whole boulder of $9,103.25 (440 ounces). The unsuspicious partner was very sick when he saw the missing half of the boulder brought back. However, the other, after paying himself $1,000 for his trouble and his ability as a detective, divided the remainder with the man who had laughed at him in the start. He said he took only $20 for his trouble and risk, but that for his "sabe" he must have $980.

Great nuggets of Sierra County
A great number of nuggets of gold were discovered during the gold rush years in the mines of Sierra County, some of them being among California's largest. Strictly speaking, a nugget is a piece of gold unmixed with any of the kinds of rock with which it was originally associated such as quartz. However, the word has come to mean not only a pure piece of the metal but also a piece of washed quartz or other type of rock for which the greater part of the piece is gold.  It is believed that Sierra County has produced more large nuggets than any other County in California.



On old Jersey flat near Downieville a nugget was found that weighed 11 pounds. Not far from there in Slug Canyon which is also near Downieville a large nugget winning over 90 ounces was found in 1854. In May of 1860 a quartz boulder weighing 48 pounds that was thickly interspersed with gold was mined at the Monte Cristo mine.  In November of 1870 a big chunk was found by the Shamrock Brothers effort. While working on their claim it was part quartz and weighed 27 pounds and had a value of gold of $3100 (a gold content of 155 ounces). On the border of Sierra County at the Four Hills mine in June of 1883, a pocket of gold which required 7 men to lift it, but it was small enough to fit into a candle box.  It contained over 500 ounces of gold. There were also a number of gold pockets taken from a claim in Hungry Mouth ravine that was known as the Twin Pocket quartz claim. It yielded over $3000 worth of gold in less than two months. As late as 1926, a placer gold nugget weighing 8 pounds and containing about 90 ounces of gold was found in the vicinity of Galloway Ridge near the heads of Mount Vernon and Hungry Mouth ravines.


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