Gold Districts of California
Location. The Sierra City district covers an extensive area in central
Sierra County. It includes the Furnier, Loganville, Church Meadows, Gold Valley, and
Sierra City-Sierra Buttes areas. It is located at the South end of the major belt of
gold mineralization that extends north-northwest to the johnsville district in Plumas
History. This district was placer-mined soon after the beginning of the
gold rush. Many coarse nuggets were recovered at that time. Sierra City was
founded in 1850; destroyed by an avalanche in 1852, it was soon rebuilt. Many
Indians lived in this district in those days. The famous roistering society E.
Clampus Vitus originated in Sierra City. It was reorganized several years ago by the
California Historical Society.
The Sierra Buttes mine was opened in 1850, and most of the other important lode mines
soon afterward. A number of very rich high-grade surface pockets were discovered,
including one at the Four Hills mine that yielded between $250,000 and $500,000. The
district was highly productive from about 1870 until 1914. There was some mining
activity again during the 1920s and 1930s, and intermittent prospecting and development
work has continued until the present time. The value of the total output of the
district is unknown, but it is estimated to be at least $30 million.
Geology. A northwest-trending belt of Calaveras (Carboniferous to Permian)
slate, schist, and quartzite with limestone lenses runs through the west portion; a quartz
porphyry (metarhyolite belt lies in the central portion, and greenstone and amphibolite
schist, to the east. A belt of meta-tuff of the Milton Formation (Jurassic) extends
along the east margin. A few serpentine lenses are present. The northeastern
area is overlain by glacial moraines. Tertiary andesite caps some of the ridges and
rhyolite caps some Eocene auriferous channel gravels.
Ore Deposits. An extensive series of north- to northwest- and occasionally
northeast-trending quartz veins range from a few feet to as much as 40 feet in
thickness. The veins occur in all of the metamorphic rocks. The ore bodies
contain free gold, pyrite, and minor galena and chalcopyrite. The ore shoots often
were large (up to 300 feet long and several thousand feet deep) and usually averaged 1/3
to 1/2 ounce of gold per ton. Much high-grade ore was taken from the district. Several
fairly extensive magnetite deposits are found in the north end of the district.
Mines. Lode: Buffalo, Butcher Ranch, Butte Saddle $100,000+, Chipps,
Cleveland, Colombo $400,000?, Empire, Four Hills $2 million, Great Northern, Kentuck
$100,000+, Keystone, Klondyke, Loeffler, Lucky Boy, Monarch $100,000+, Peck, Primrose,
Phoenix $160,000+, 1001, Roman, Sacred Mount $100,000+, Sebastopol, Sierra Buttes $17
million to $20 million, Sisson, Sovereign, Wallis, William Tell, Willoughby, Young America
$1.5 million. Placer: Hilda, Ladies Canyon $500,000, Pride.
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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