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Gold Districts of California


Location. The Magalia district is in north-central Butte County 15 miles northeast of Chico. It is bounded on the west by Doe Mill Ridge and on the east by the West Branch of the Feather River. It extends from Paradise on the south to several miles west of Powellton on the north. This district includes the placer deposits at Nimshaw, Forks of Butte, Mineral Slide and De Sabla and lode deposits at Toadtown. The Butte Creek dredging district adjoins this district at Centerville.

History. This region was extensively mined during and after the gold rush. The town was started in 1850 by E. B. Vinson and Charles Chamberlin. It was first known as Dogtown, renamed Magalia about 1862. The Magalia mine was discovered in 1855 and the Indian Springs mine in 1860. Large-scale mining continued until the 1890s; there was some activity from the early 1900s through the 1930s. There has been minor prospecting and development work since World War 11. Some of the old mining properties have been made into housing subdivisions. The famous 54-lb. Willard, Dogtown, or Magalia nugget was found here in 1859. This is one of the more productive placer-mining districts in the state. Several focal residents have estimated the total output to be $40 million, but that figure is too high (author). Much of the output has come from drift mines.

Geology. There are a number of south-southwest-trending steep, narrow, and rich channels. The longest channel is the Magalia or Mammoth channel that flowed along the east side of the district. Other productive channels include the Dix, Emma, Little Magalia, Pershbaker, and Nugget channels. In the south portion of the district there are shore gravels. The gold was extremely coarse, and a number of other large nuggets besides the Willard were taken here. Bedrock is slate and greenstone with smaller amounts of serpentine. The channels are faulted in places with the downstream side being thrown up. Water has always been a problem in the drift mines. A few gold-quartz veins in greenstone are associated with diorite dikes.

Mines. Drift: Bader, Black Diamond, Cole, Cory, Dix, Emma $1 million+, Ethel, Genii, Indian Springs, Kelly Hill, Lucky John, Lucretia, Magalia $1 million, Mammoth, Mineral Slide, Nuggett, Oro Fino, Parry, Pershbaker, Pete Wood, Pitts, Princess, Royal, Steifer, Willard. Hydraulic: Centerville, Kohl, Red Hill. Lode: Springer, Toadtown.

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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