Finding Big Nuggets In Unexpected Places

Nuggets have sometimes been found in out of  the way places where there is not another particle of gold within miles. Only a few years ago a consumptive who had sought refuge in the mountains back of San Diego, found a nugget that was as much a surprise to himself as to the prospectors of that section. In one of his long walks for health and exercise he amused himself by looking for Indian relics in a canon after a long, heavy rainfall had washed down great masses of gravel and earth into the canon. In picking his way alongside the cliff, he stumbled over the nugget. He took it to San Diego and received $1,580 for it, which was about five times what he thought it was worth. Old prospectors went over the ground where the nugget was found and all over the neighborhood, but no one found as much as a color. It was concluded that one of the Indians had probably hauled in into that location from another place, but the Indians were long gone, and no one knew where the gold had come from.

A similar find was that made by a miner known to all old-timers as Dan Hill. Hill was equally famed as a finder of nuggets and as a drinker of whiskey; in fact, it is a question which gave him the wider reputation. One day he and some companions were camped in a lonely canon near Dutch Flats, in Nevada county. Hill amused himself by running over gravel on an abandoned placer claim. Tiring of this he went down to the brook to wash his hands. There in the running water, staring him full in the face, lay a nugget of gold and white quartz as big as his head. How it had lain there so exposed to the possible view of hundreds of miners who had tramped over that country and hunted the stream from end to end, time and time again, was the favorite topic of speculation among miners for months after. Hill sold his nugget for $12,300, (about 600 ounces) and went on a spree that lasted into the second year.



Hill had made a name for himself as a big nugget finder some four years previously; when he was eking out a bare existence in the placers near Ruby Belle Camp, in Plumas county, and almost within the shadow of Mount Shasta, when one day he dug out of the gravel a chunk of gold. Hill started at once for the nearest point where he could turn it into cash, and the D. O. Mills Bank in Sacramento handed him $9,000 for it. Of this amount, he spent $5,000 in San Francisco in one week, and was soon as poor as ever, and again on the hunt for nuggets. But his luck had departed. He never made another find, and died in the almshouse at Los Angeles several years later.

It was thought by some that colored miners were proverbially lucky in the early days of placer mining in California. In 1868 one of them was out on a prospecting tour on the slope of Table Mountain, Tuolumne county. Just where the mountain drifts down towards Shaw's Flat, he saw the corner of a big nugget sticking out of the ground. He dug it out, planted it in a new place and marked the spot, and continued on his prospecting expedition. He did not stake out a claim where he found the nugget, as he believed it to have rolled down from some point higher up the mountain. Finding good pay at the place he went to prospect he remained several weeks, feeling quite at ease in regard to the big nugget he had cached. Finally he quit work in his new diggings and set out to relocate the place where he had hidden his big nugget. On coming in sight of the spot where he had buried it he almost dropped in his tracks, for he saw a company of men at work just where he had made his "plant." The men were Italians, and they had worked up to within ten feet of the spot where lay buried the big nugget. The colored miner explained the situation to the Italians, and they permitted him to dig up and carry away his nugget. If there is such a thing as double luck, this colored miner was endowed with it, for the rescue was about as fortunate as the find. The nugget weighed 35 pounds and yielded over $7,000.

The Lucky Sailor diggings, near Downieville in Sierra County was named for a group of English sailors who deserted their ship and went to the hills to go prospecting.  In 1851, the sailors found a 31 pound nugget in many that way from five to 15 pounds.  They took these lumps to England to display, with a caused a great amount of excitement and interest in the gold fields of California.

The mining district of Sonora, California was the source of a number of unusually large gold nuggets, some of which were found in unusual and unexpected circumstances. In 1851 a resident of Sonora, into Tuolumne  County took a walk outside of the town and struck his foot against a stone.  He turned sharply and was about to utter what he considered to be an appropriate exclamation of his anger when he noticed that the stone at us like glitter of gold that ran through it.  He picked it up and carried it home and later recovered $500 from it.



Another resident of Sonora, while leading his mule which was hitched to a cart on the main street of town after a heavy rain, stopped and bent down to remove a large stone from the road that was blocking his way.  It was unusually heavy, and upon closer examination he found that it was a nugget of gold which weighed about 35 pounds.  It was located on the main street of town in a spot where hundreds of people passed by that way daily.  In less than an hour after reporting his find, all of that part of town where the nugget had lain was staked off in mining claims. The largest nugget yet found in Sonora was taken from Holden Gardens and was valued at nearly $5,000 (250 ounces).

Rich pockets of gold have been common in the history of California mining.  In 1883 a slap of gold Quartz which contained $20,468, was taken from the rainbow mine in Sierra County at a depth of about 200 feet.  It was a part of a pocket which yield in total about $120,000.  The specimen was exhibited at HH Noble's office in San Francisco for some period of time.  One pocket from the fellows mine in Sierra County contain 250,000.  The green immigrant pocket mine near Auburn yielded $160,000 and was found by a greenhorn within 30 yards of a road which he been traveled daily for 20 years.  The Devol pocket in Sonora, which was found along the principal street of the town, yielded $20,000 in three weeks in 1879. On August 18 of 1860, of Quartz nugget winning 1520 ounces was found in the monumental Quartz mine near Sierra City.  It was valued at over $20,000.  Rich pockets were also discovered in Trinity County.


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