Gold Country

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Map of Sierra Nevada gold country Sierra Gold Rush map.jpg
Map of Sierra Nevada gold country

The Gold Country (also known as Mother Lode Country) is a historic region in the northern portion of the U.S. state of California, that is primarily on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. It is famed for the mineral deposits and gold mines that attracted waves of immigrants, known as the 49ers, during the 1849 California Gold Rush.



When gold was first discovered in 1848 many people came from all over the world to find gold. The migration into California brought diseases and violence. [1] There were 500 mining camps of which 300 are still undiscovered as of today. There was 400 million dollars in gold mined between 1849 and 1855. [2] In 1942 most of the mines shut down due to World War II. [3] The transportation in Gold Country grew rapidly due to the Gold Rush. The first railroad in California ran through Gold Country. [4] There were 250 different stage coach companies formed by 1860. [4]

Major Events Per County:

This is a photo taken looking down into the Empire Mine Shaft Grass Valley California. Looking down into mine at Empire Mine.jpg
This is a photo taken looking down into the Empire Mine Shaft Grass Valley California.
This was a hole in the mountain in La Porte, California. It was used to divert the water in Slate Creek. Hole in moutain in La Porte,California.jpg
This was a hole in the mountain in La Porte, California. It was used to divert the water in Slate Creek.


The Gold Country lies on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, reaching down to the Sacramento Valley. The oldest geology can be found along the easternmost portions of this region, closer to the Sierra Nevada summits, which formed 100 million years ago. [4] It consists of ancient sea floor and portions of islands which were added onto the western edge of North America during the late Paleozoic, about 275 million years ago. The western sections of the Mother Lode are significantly younger, from the mid-Mesozoic about 150 million years ago, and also consist of material that was solidified on the ocean floor to the continental edge. Massive intrusions of granite forced their way into these formations. After ten miles of overlying material was eroded over the last 70 million years, these intrusions became visible throughout the Sierra Nevada. Over the last 50 million years, rivers and volcanoes deposited materials; these built up in thick layers found atop many of the high ridges of the Sierra Nevada foothills.


This part of California has a Mediterranean climate like much of Italy and Spain, making wine grapes and vineyards one of the region's primary crops and industry.[ citation needed ] Over 100 wineries are found throughout the Gold Country. Winters are cool and wet with occasional snowfall, especially in the higher elevations of the eastern reaches up the slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Winter temperatures range from the upper twenties to mid-fifties. Summers are dry and hot, with long stretches that reach triple digits. The average annual precipitation is around 30 inches (760 mm). Many dams were built in the Sierra Nevada to hold water. People in California depend on the water that comes from the Sierra Nevada mountains. [4]


California State Route 49 is the primary north–south highway through the region, passing through many historic mining communities. Major east–west highways include Interstate 80 and U.S. Route 50.

Two Amtrak routes run through the area. The eastern terminus of the Capitol Corridor is in Auburn. The California Zephyr stops in Colfax. [8]

Counties and towns

Counties and the towns that are part of Gold Country:

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Hydraulic mining is a form of mining that uses high-pressure jets of water to dislodge rock material or move sediment. In the placer mining of gold or tin, the resulting water-sediment slurry is directed through sluice boxes to remove the gold. It is also used in mining kaolin and coal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">California State Route 49</span> Highway in California

State Route 49 is a north–south state highway in the U.S. state of California that passes through many historic mining communities of the 1849 California gold rush. Highway 49 is numbered after the "49ers", the waves of immigrants who swept into the area looking for gold, and it is known as the Golden Chain Highway. This roadway begins at Oakhurst, Madera County, in the Sierra Nevada, where it diverges from State Route 41. It continues in a generally northwest direction, weaving through the communities of Goldside and Ahwahnee, before crossing into Mariposa County. State Route 49 then continues northward through the counties of Tuolumne, Calaveras, Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Nevada, Yuba, Sierra, and Plumas, where it reaches its northern terminus at State Route 70, in Vinton.

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French Corral is an unincorporated community approximately five miles west of California State Highway 49 in Nevada County, California.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bear River (Feather River tributary)</span> River in California, United States

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Woolsey's Flat was a historic mining town located on the San Juan Ridge, located about 17 miles northeast of Nevada City and about 3 miles northeast of North Bloomfield. The town was about 1 mile south of the Middle Yuba at an elevation of about 4200 ft. To the east lay the mining towns of Moore's Flat and Orleans Flat, each about I mile apart. All three were settled in 1851 and their histories frequently intertwine. Collectively, they are sometimes referred to as "The Flats. All three were part of Eureka Township.

Snow Point was a historic mining town in Nevada County, California on the San Juan Ridge about 2 miles east of Moore's Flat and about 6 miles west of Graniteville. It was located at an elevation of 4321 ft just off present day German Bar Road about midway between that road's intersections with present day Moore's Flat Road and Hagerty Road.

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Blue Tent is a historic 19th century gold mining community located about six miles northeast of Nevada City, California.

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<i>Woodruff v. North Bloomfield Gravel Mining Company</i>

The case of Woodruff v. North Bloomfield Gravel Mining Company was a lawsuit brought to California courts in 1882 where a group of local farmers sued North Bloomfield Mining and Gravel Company over damages caused to farmland in the Central Valley. The farmers who brought the suit claimed that the company's hydraulic mining operations resulted in the disposal of excess sediment, debris, and chemicals in local rivers. Prosecutors argued that the debris raised river beds and restricted flow in the rivers leading to heavy man-made flooding. In the years prior, flooding of debris and chemicals had destroyed a large portion of the valley's agriculture.

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Charles Marsh was an influential figure in the building of the first transcontinental railroad, as well as in building water systems for hydraulic mining in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the California Gold Rush. He was one of the founding directors of the Central Pacific Railroad. He was a surveyor and worked with Theodore D. Judah to survey and evaluate various possible routes for the first transcontinental railroad through the Sierra Nevada. He built a number of ditches and water pipelines to serve mines and towns there, and became known as the “Father of Ditches.” He was also one of the founders of the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad.


  1. 1 2 García, Justin (2013), "California Gold Rush", Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia, SAGE Publications, Inc., doi:10.4135/9781452276274.n150, ISBN   9781452216836
  2. Robert, Gabler-Hover, Janet Sattelmeyer (2006). American history through literature 1820 - 1870. Thomson Gale. ISBN   978-0684314624. OCLC   255149412.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Frank, Lorey (2017-11-23). A guide to the gold rush country of California. [Charleston, SC]. ISBN   978-1634990257. OCLC   995304792.
  4. 1 2 3 4 L., Gall, Timothy (2012). Worldmark encyclopedia of the nations. Gale Cengage Learning. ISBN   9781414433905. OCLC   808772826.
  5. Hill, Mary (1999). Gold the California Story. University of California Press.
  6. 1 2 Rosemarie., Mossinger (2006). Yuba Feather Hills. Yuba Feather Museum (Forbestown, Calif.). Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub. ISBN   978-0738531021. OCLC   70220469.
  7. L., Hopkins, Tammy (2007). Marysville. Delamere, Henry. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub. ISBN   9780738547374. OCLC   144226492.
  8. "Don't Miss Out: Why You Should Take Amtrak to Reno". TripSavvy. Retrieved 2018-10-19.

Coordinates: 38°24′N120°48′W / 38.4°N 120.8°W / 38.4; -120.8