Great Finds Around Hangtown (aka Placerville)

The location of the right spot to dig is the great problem to solve in mining, and many devices were adopted for 'the purpose, among them being the divining-rod, frequently used by our associates from the Faderland. One German had established an office, and in his prospectus agreed to furnish, for a consideration, the exact location where gold deposits could be found ; but upon trial, to his vexation and astonishment, found that it was useless. A newcomer engaged his services, and the spot was located near the banks of a ravine near by. The bed rock was slate and very hard, but the German fakir stated that down under the rock was a great deposit of gold, and he only charged the verdant youth the sum of $25 for the valuable information After spending much time and money, as well as a great deal of hard work, in penetrating the slate bed to the distance of about thirty feet, the project was abandoned, and the German, with his rod of divination, also abandoned the mines in disgust.

These fabulous instruments, usually made of sticks cut from a witch-hazel bush in our own country, in Germany are made of whalebone, and to one which I saw was fastened a small vial containing quicksilver, in which was found a piece of paper upon which was written in some foreign language certain mythical words and signs, evidently from the Bible, meaning, I suppose, " excavate and ye shall find," or an extract from Job, " Watch the pot and it will never bile," or something similar.



Previous to the arrival of the emigration of '49, those who happened to be in the country, as well as the Mormon element which rushed into the mines from Salt Lake upon hearing of the gold discovery, and those also who came from Oregon, made their way immediately to the vicinity of Coloma, where gold was first discovered. But little placer mining was found in this vicinity, and the gold seekers wandered off in various directions. In the vicinity of (Georgetown and Kelsey, rich mines among the hills and ravines were found, the dry diggings around Hangtown being discovered about March first by parties from Oregon. The first discovery was made in Hangtown Creek, near the mouth of Cedar Ravine, the latter being the first ravine worked, and found to be very rich, yielding upwards of $1,000,000. The next discovery was in Bedford Avenue, at that time called " Log Cabin Ravine," and a large amount of gold was taken from it by the two Winslow brothers, who first discovered it, and also by a Mr. Rider who took home with him about $25,000. From this ravine had been taken altogether, as near as can be determined, about $250,000. The richest portion of the creek was from a point below the mouth of Cedar Ravine down to a point near the foundry.

Below this again but very little gold was found. In ascending the creek, good wages were made above Cedar Ravine, and a few very good deposits were found nearly up to the store of Dr. Price. From that point up, but little gold was ever found, although a few spots paid fair wages. The creek was worked in '49 and up to the autumn of '51 by the usual process of sinking of holes and cradling the gravel upon the bed rock. Spots in the creek, especially in the rear of the court house, were found to be very rich, and a piece of ground in the rear of Adam's Hotel (afterwards the Mount Joy Hotel) was worked in '49 and up to the spring of '50 by Fish Brothers and Co., from which they realized, as they stated, about $20,000.

Just below Adams' Hotel was a round tent used as a saloon and gambling house by Tom Ashton, in the winter of '49. Immediately in the rear of this tent, a man by the name of Wiley, in the spring of '50, from one pan of white clay washed out the sum of $1,400.  singular fact noticed and commented upon in '49 was, that from about this point in the creek down, but very little gold was ever found. The cause of this was not discovered until near the spring of '50, when it was found that the original creek which deposited the gold made a turn at this point, running down under the buildings and crossing the street about opposite the grocery store belonging to A. W. Bee, continued down through town on the opposite side of the street, being confined in its course to a narrow channel until reaching nearly to the Cary House. From this point, no regular channel was ever found; but the gold was found scattered over the flats below. This flat was worked principally during '49 and the summer of '50. The old channel running through and under the town has all been worked with pan and cradle, and found to be very rich in places; and would pay well with sluices, but not in my opinion half as well as many imagine, for there is no gold to speak of in the main street, except perhaps a very narrow spot on the Plaza, where the old creek crossed.



The amount of gold extracted from the creek altogether, including the flat below, as near as I was able to judge, was about $800,000. It was generally known how much miners were realizing from their claims, yet there were certain ones who kept it a secret, these generally being those who had the richest mines. Emigrant Ravine paid fair wages nearly up to the head of it, and a few smaller ravines emptying into it, also paid well. Going north from town across the Big Gallon to Poverty Point and its vicinity, many rich ravines were found ; but the richest gold deposit was reserved for the miners of '50. This was the celebrated Red Hill, of decomposed quartz deposit lead, found upon the apex of a slate ledge crossing three different ravines, and running down towards the Big Canyon This lead was about an eight of a mile in length, and in some places only about three inches in width ; yet over $250,000 was taken from it.

The very richest ravine that was discovered up to this time, the spring of '51, around Hangtown, was the Oregon Ravine. This ravine was first discovered by two men from Oregon named Yocum. They first worked a narrow strip up through the ravine about three feet in width, and were at work at the time of our arrival in Hangtown, about the first of October. We had consequently an opportunity of forming some idea of its richness. Their method of working was of the most primitive kind. One would with pick and shovel remove the dirt from the surface to near the bed rock, which was about three feet in depth, and the other, with an old knife or a sharp stick in one hand, would stir up the dirt, and as the bright pieces of gold showed themselves, would pick them up and drop them into a tin cup, which he constantly carried in the other hand. This was their slow method of working, and although they realized a fortune by this process, they did not glean as much as they should have done. How much these two men realized was never known, for they were very cautious ; but it was supposed that they took home with them about $100,000 each. Old man Harper, who also worked in this ravine, was said to have made out $60,000; several others also, have made large profits here. They all left for home in the fall of '49. Soon after my arrival, there were at least 200 men at work in this ravine, and all doing well, for the ravine was wide and paid richly from bank to bank. Dr. Ober was very successful, and as he passed along down at night among the miners who were at work below him, with a smiling countenance showed his tin cup in which he carried his gold. I found that about $150 was his average day's work. In my opinion, Oregon Ravine yielded at least $1,000,000 if not more, and considering its size was the richest one in this portion of the country.

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