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Gold Districts of California


Location and history. This district is in central Butte County, 12 miles north of Oroville on the north side of Table Mountain and in the vicinity of the town of Cherokee or Cherokee Flat. It was so named for a party of Cherokee Indians who migrated here in the 1850s to mine gold. It has also been known as the Spring Valley district. Most of the output has come from the single large hydraulic mine, which is estimated to have yielded about $15 million. The town reached its heyday in the middle 1870s when it had a population of about 700.

Geology. The Tertiary placer deposits are associated with a west-trending channel. In this area the channel is in a trough about 700 feet wide. The sequence from bottom to top of the hydraulic pit is as follows: irregular greenstone gravel 5-10 feet thick that is lean in gold and contains local black clay streaks and minor basalt blocks; a rich 20- to 30-foot layer of coarse fresh blue gravel with large greenstone blocks, coarse and fine gold, small diamonds, and minor platinum (this layer yielded as much as several dollars per yard); several feet of decomposed gravel; 50 feet of sand and quartzitic gravel, the lower part of which yielded 25 cents per Yard; 200 feet of clayey sand; and 50 to 75 feet of massive basalt.

Between 400 and 500 small diamonds were recovered from the gold-bearing gravels at the Cherokee mine. Several of the stones were more than two carats in weight and of good quality, but most were small and had a pale-yellow tinge. This is the best-known diamond-bearing locality in California.

Excerpt from: Gold Districts of California, by: W.B. Clark, California Department of Conservation, Division of Mines and Geology, Bulletin 193, 1970. 

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