La Panza District
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Location and History
This is a placer-mining district in east-central San Luis Obispo County about 40 miles east of the town of San Luis Obispo. The district is in the La Panza Mountains and includes the area around the site of the town of La Panza east of the crest of the mountain range and the Pozo area to the west. La Panza means "the paunch" in Spanish. The name was derived from the practice of the vacqueros at nearby ranchos of using the paunch or other parts of slaughtered beef as bait to trap grizzly bears, which once were common here.
Placer mining is believed to have first been done in the district in the early 1800s by Mexicans and Indians. Gold was rediscovered in 1878, and there was a rush to the area that lasted for several years. In 1888 the total output was estimated to have been valued at over $100,000. Small-scale mining continued through the early 1900s, and there was activity again in the 1930s and early 1940s. The total production of the district is estimated at $200,000. A few old buildings remain in the area.
Much of the gold apparently was obtained from San Juan Creek, which flows northward along the east flank of the mountain range, and from several of its tributaries. The richest tributaries were Navajo, McGinnis, Placer, and Hay Creeks. On the west side of the summit some gold was recovered from Pozo, Frazer, and Toro Creeks and possibly from the upper Salinas River. The placer deposits were small and discontinuous, but in places they were rich. The gold was fairly coarse and somewhat irregular. It was derived from narrow quartz veins in the granitic rocks that constitute the central part of the La Panza Mountains. The east side of the district is underlain by sandstone, shale, and conglomerate.
Dillon, R. H., 1961, The legends of La Panza: Wesf]tways, May 1961, pp.10-12.
Franke, H. A., Jr., 1935, San Luis Obispo County, gold: California Div. Mines Rept. 31, pp. 420-423.
Laizure, C. McK., 1925, San Luis Obispo County, gold: California Min. Bur. Rept. 21, pp. 514-515.
Logan, C. A., 1919, San luis Obispo County, gold: California Min. Bur. Rept. 15, pp. 6B7-688.
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