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Gold Districts of California


Between 1848 and 1967, California was the source of more than 106 million troy ounces of gold. This total was far greater than that for any other state in the Union and represented about 35 percent of the total United States production. 

Although gold was mined in California in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, the gold rush did not begin until after Marshall's discovery at Sutter's Mill in 1848. Thousands of gold seekers soon arrived, and in a few years much of the state was permanently settled. Gold production attained an all-time high of $81 million in 1852 but then declined because of the exhaustion of the rich surface placers. At the last government-set price of $35 per ounce, the 1852 amount would have been about $138 million. 

Hydraulic mines become the largest sources of gold until curtailed by court order in 1884. Lode mines and dredges were the principal sources after that date. During the depression years of the 1930s, gold output in the state was nearly as high as it had been during the gold rush. Gold mining was curtailed during World War II and has not recovered since. 

Large NuggetsA number of spectacular nuggets and masses of pure gold were recovered in California during the early days. The most famous were the 195-pound mass of gold from Carson Hill and the 54-pound Willard nugget from Magalia. Small high-grade ore shoots or pockets have been found in many districts, but the richest and most numerous have been in the Alleghany district of Sierra County. 

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

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