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Placer County California

Although best known for its great placer mines, Placer County also produced substantial amounts of lode gold, with a total production of over 2 million ounces from 1880-1959. The gold produced from 1849-1880 was not recorded but probably was very considerable. One and a half miles west of Colfax, you will find the Rising Sun Mine, a leading gold mine in the county with a total production of 200,000 ounces between 1866 and 1932, rich pockets in quartz stringers produced lode gold. East of Colfax, by 5 miles, you will find the Iowa Hill district, consisting of thick Tertiary gravel deposits that worked hydraulically and drifting. The many area placer operations produced 800,000 ounces of placer gold. The Morning Star Mine produced about 150,000 ounces of lode gold as well. The Dutch Flat - Gold Run district, along the north boundary of Placer county due east of Grass Valley (Nevada County), all Tertiary stream channel gravels extending south from Nevada County, produced about 492,000 ounces through 1959 of placer gold from the Tertiary beds. At Forest Hill district, in the southcentral part of the county, extensive operations produced 344,000 gold ounces from area Tertiary channel gravels, worked by drift mining placer gold. East of Forest Hill, by 5 miles in the south part of the county, you will find the Michigan Bluff district, which has a total production of 300,000 gold ounces. The Big Gun Mine, the largest hydraulic operation in the district, produces rich placer gold. The Hidden Treasure Mine, the richest drift mine in California, was also a rich placer gold producer. Several area lode gold mines, the Pioneer, Rawhide, etc., were also rich. At Loomis, Miners dredged the area gravel deposits along the American River during the 1930s for placer gold./P>

At Penryn, go east 1 mile, and you will find the Alabama Mine. It was a rich lode gold mine with lead and silver.


Near the town of Auburn along the American River, many rich placers existed. The Ophir district was most productive, with 1,500,000 ounces of lode gold produced. At the Green Emigrant Mine, the Crater, Bellevue, Oro Fino, and Three Stars mines were very rich producers of lode gold.

Report By: Phillip Herzog

One of my favorite places to go is the Auburn State Recreation Area. It is located about 30 minutes east of Sacramento in Mother Lode. It is easy to find on a map. It is a public area; therefore, you cannot file claims, so it is open for mining. The primary gold is placer, and I suppose if you get really lucky, you may find a vein; however, this area has been prospected for 150 years. This system has a lot of black sand and usually plenty of fine gold. Up to one pennyweight nuggets are not uncommon to be found occasionally, but the norm is fine gold, flakes of all sizes, and small nuggets. There are many areas where a person can get one pennyweight in one day with nothing more than a pan! A friend recently found more than a seven pennyweight in nuggets in one afternoon! Just remember that before you set up the equipment, do your testing, as there are areas with little or no gold.

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