Calaveras County California Gold Production

Posted July 16, 2009 in Gold Mining

In the Jenny Lind district, in T. 3 N., R. 10 E., along the Calaveras River, Quaternary and late Tertiary gravels have been mined on a large scale by dredges and draglines. The gold production is unknown but is probably between 100,000 and 1 million ounces.

The Mother Lode, East Belt, and West Belt districts compose a north-trending belt in the western part of Calaveras County that contains about 800 lode mines and prospects (Julihn and Horton, 1938, p. 94). These three districts are combined here because it has not been possible to assign specific production data to any one district nor to determine with any degree of accuracy which mines are in which district.

The first lodes discovered in the county were on Carson Hill, on the Mother Lode, where extremely rich gold-quartz ore was found in wallrocks adjacent to the vein outcrops. The discoveries precipitated a rush to the area which culminated in the founding of the town of Melones and the feverish exploitation of the rich ores of the now-classic Carson Hill (Julihn and Horton, 1938, p. 101-102). Elsewhere in the county, quartz mining developed more slowly. In the 1890's mines near Angels Camp boosted the output of Calaveras County above that of Amador County (Knopf, 1929, p. 6). The mines on Carson Hill have been the most productive in the county. By 1938 they had yielded a total of about $25 million in gold (Julihn and Horton, 1938, p. 107). At Angels Camp the Utica and Gold Cliff group produced gold valued at $16,400,000 (Julihn and Horton, 1938, p. 136). In the West Belt district, the Royal mine, discovered in the early 1870's, was the most important; to about 1938 its production was valued at about $3 million (Julihn and Horton, 1938, p. 117). The Sheepranch mine, the deepest and most productive in the East Belt district, had yielded about $5 million in gold by 1938 (Julihn and Horton, 1938, p. 110).

After 1950, lode mining in Calaveras County declined markedly; only a few ounces was produced in 1957-58. Total production from 1880 through 1959 was 2,045,700 ounces.

The geology of this district is covered in the California Gold Production Summary article.

The placers in Tertiary channel gravels in Calaveras County have been productive at Mokelumne Hill in T. 5 N., R. 11 E., at San Andreas in T. 4 N., R. 12 E., and near Murphys in T. 3 N., R. 14 E.

Two of the productive Tertiary channel systems - the Tertiary Calaveras River and the somewhat younger Cataract or Table Mountain channel - pass through the county (Julihn and Horton, 1938, p. 22). These deposits first were worked by both drift and hydraulic methods, but legislation curtailed hydraulicking, and drift mining was then used exclusively. Production before 1880 is unrecorded but probably was large. Records of the placer gold mined from these deposits since 1880 are incomplete because placer production from all sources was grouped in the annual reports. Incomplete records of individual drift mines total 106,000 ounces (Julihn and Horton, 1938, p. 33-75); therefore this total may be considered a minimum production from the Tertiary gravels.

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Did You Know.......

A mine is a hole in the ground, owned by a liar.
-Mark Twain


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