More Tales from the Mines More Tales from the Mines
. Maximize Web VisitExperience Gold Rush (Shockwave)Onsite Adventures (QTVR)Gold Rush QuizMore Tales from the Mines
Gold Fever! The Lure and Legacy of the California Gold Rush

Art of the Gold Rush: Painters and Prospectors

Silver & Gold: Cased Images of the Gold Rush

Natives & Immigrants

Gold Districts of California


Location and History.  The Snelling district is in eastern Merced County along the Merced River between the towns of Snelling and Merced Falls.  It is principally a dredging field.  Some placer mining and hydraulic mining of the terrace deposits along the river were practiced during the gold rush.  The town, named in 1851 for Charles Snelling, who operated a hotel and ranch here, was the governmental seat of Merced County from 1857 until 1872.  Gold dredging began in 1907 and continued until 1919.  There was dredging again from 1929 until 1942 and 1946 to 1952.  The value of the total output of the district is unknown, but the dredges are estimated to have produced about $17 million.

Geology.  The values were recovered from stream gravels and flood plain and terrace deposits in and adjacent to the Merced River.  The gravels are loose with very little clay and range from 20 to 35 feet in depth.  The dredged area is about nine miles long and 1/2 to 1 1/2 miles wide.  Bedrock is slate in the east and volcanic ash in the west.  The gold is fairly fine and about 890 in fineness.  A small amount of platinum is present.  Dredge recoveries ranged from 10 to 30 cents in gold per yard, with the average close to 10 cents.

Dredging Concerns.  Merced Dredging Co., 1934-42 and 1945-49, one dredge; San Joaquin Mining Co., 1936-42, one dredge; Snelling Gold Dredging Co., 1932-42 and 1946-52, two dredges; Yosemite Mining & Dredging Co., 1907-19, one dredge; Yuba Cons.  Goldfields, 1930-41, two dredges.

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

Return to Principal Gold Districts

HomeGuest BookSearchSite MapCreditsGet Involved
1998 Oakland Museum of California. All rights reserved.