When Trinity Turned to Gold
In the early 1850s, miners from around the world came to Weaverville after the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma and the subsequent influx of people into northern California. Perason B. Reading mined the Trinity River near Douglas City at what is now called Reading Bar. News of Rading’s success drew miners to remote diggings.
In 1850, Sacramento newspapers publicized the diggings along Weaver Creek and more miners rushed into the area. The publication Search for Gold in Weaverville documents much of the Weaverville area gold history.
Trinity County is in California Gold Region 6. This region has a number of National Forests where prospecting, mining and panning is done. These include: Shasta, Plumas, Trinity, Six Rivers, Siskiyou, Modoc and Klamath.
The Klamath Mountains region in northwestern California is the second-most gold-productive province in California. The principal gold districts are in Shasta, Siskiyou, and Trinity counties. Although there are several important lode-gold districts, the placer deposits have been the largest sources of gold.
The most productive placer deposits in the Klamath Mountains have been those associated with the Klamath and Trinity Rivers and their tributaries. Gold is found not only in the gravels in the present stream channels, but also in older terrace and bench deposits adjacent to the channels. The terrace and bench deposits often were mined by hydraulicing.
The Trinity River, which flows into the Klamath River at Weitchpec, drains the southern portion of the Klamath Mountains. The most productive placer deposits of the Trinity River are those located along its main channel. These include the deposits at Carrville, Trinity Center, Minersville, Lewiston, Weaverville, Junction City, and Salyer. The principal tributaries of the Trinity River are Coffee Creek, Stewart’s Fork, East Fork, New River, Indian Creek and Hayfork Creek.
The La Grange mine (California Historial Landmark #778), a few miles west of Weaverville, was one of the largest hydraulic mines in California.
Lode-gold deposits are found throughout the Klamath Mountains. The most productive district has been the French Gulch-Deadwood district of Shasta and Trinity Counties in the southern portion of the province. Considerable amounts of gold have been produced in the Shasta copper-zinc belt and lesser amounts in other copper deposits, such as the Copper Bluff mine at Hoopa.
The gold nearly always occurs in native form in quartz veins, usually associated with pyrite and smaller amounts of other sulfides. The veins occur in all metamorphic rocks of Jurassic and older ages. A few lode-gold deposits are found in granitic rocks.”
The rugged and beautiful countryside of this region of Northern California has always attracted tourists, adventurers, miners and gold prospectors. There are literally hundreds of places where a person may do some prospecting and find gold with a pan.
Where to Look for Gold
Stream placers have been very productive and the greatest concentrations of gold are found close to or in crevices in the bedrock. It is advisable, therefore, to work the bedrock of creeks or gullies in gold-bearing regions.
To search for gold in a dry creek, find a place in the watercourses where the bedrock is exposed or nearly exposed. Gold lodges under large rocks and in cracks in the solid formation. Find a fracture in the bedrock and pry it open with a pick or bar.
Your pan filled with water should be handy. Lift out the rocks as they are broken, and wash them in the pan, scraping off any sand and clay
Before you start panning for gold there are some basic rules you need to follow. Private lands are not available for prospecting or claiming. If you wish to mine on private lands, you must get permission for the land owner. The land you find may also already be claimed by another miner. To determine if another previous claim exists you should search the area looking for a copy of a location notice. You can also get information by asking local residences or possibly by researching County mining records.
Federal land, both those managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service, are generally open for prospecting and mining claims. There are some parcels that have been withdrawn from action of the mining laws for a variety of reasons. These withdrawn lands include campgrounds, administrative sites, the national recreation area and planned land exchanges. Information on withdrawn lands is available at various district headquarters.