Gold arches east

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Gold arches east

It was here that gold was first discovered in California, clinging to the roots of some wild onions dug up one March afternoon by Francisco Lopez, a local rancher.

Gold arches east

Since then, thousands of miners have picked and panned the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles, some continuing to the present day.

The years have worn away most evidence of this forgotten gold rush. But hidden high up in quiet canyons or on treacherous granite ridges, one can still find reminders of Gold arches east time when hardy souls extracted a living from these mountains.

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Placerita Canyon State Park, three miles east of Newhall, is where it all got started. The Oak of the Golden Dream, a twisted old California Live Oak, stands at the west-end of the park, north of the highway.

The small stream runs only a few months each year and was bone dry this past July, the fifth straight year of drought in the state. Lack of water was a major obstacle for the placer miners of the 19th century.

The Mexicans who did most of the mining in Placerita and nearby canyons used dry panning to winnow out the gold, but the process was not efficient. Even so, the placer gold soon gave out. By the streambeds yielded little to prospectors.

But soon they were locating the veins where the placers originated. Copper ore was discovered while surveying for a railroad to connect Los Angeles with the Mojave Desert in ; but at the time, it was not considered important.

It was not until that miners went back after the copper — and then discovered, in the process, silver and gold.

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Thus began the boom in Soledad Canyon. The town of Soledad, also known as Ravenna, quickly sprang to life. Then it died, then it revived again. Byit had enough residents that a U. Through the lean years, the Mexican miners kept things going.

The Soledad lode mines proved much more profitable than early placer operations. Not much mining continues in the old Soledad District these days, but the sites have left a permanent mark on the hills. It was simply the first documented claim. Vast amounts of gold were said to exist at Mill Creek.

The two-mile hike up to Monte Cristo mine from Monte Cristo Campground on Angeles Forest Highway takes you past the Black Crow mine only the foundation of two buildings are left and the Black Cargo—a small operation that is continuing today.

About a half-mile beyond is the Monte Cristo, which has also been worked recently. The Monte Cristo, which is not posted, looks like its tenants moved out just last week.

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Several abandoned houses sit in the junction of two creeks. Old machinery is strewn about, including an old rusted-out, bullet-riddled car. Fairly new-looking beer cans suggest the area is populated on the week-ends, if not worked occasionally.

The mine was first discovered by Mexicans and perhaps Indians before that. The first documented, full scale mining began around and was abandoned shortly thereafter. InCaptain Elbridge Fuller took over the mine. Fuller seemed to have difficulty keeping partners.

He either sold them out or drove them away.

Gold arches east

One of them was found dead with his head blown off. Fuller abandoned the mine after two decades.

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Bur Fuller moved too soon, it seems; because the next owner turned the mine into a success. But Carlisle too, saw the ore run low. The mine closed in by order of the War Production Board.

Probably the most accessible of the old mines, is the Dawn Mine, in Millard Canyon just above the Altadena. A worthwhile hike even without a mine at the end, it takes you through a beautiful riparian woodland, a wonderful seclusion remarkable for its proximity to the city below.

Like most of the mines of the San Gabriels, it was more ambitious than profitable. The main shaft, which ran 1, feet into the mountain, is still open short assays can be found nearby on the canyon walls. Old machinery litters the canyon bottom, some of it crushed like aluminum cans between the boulders.

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Golden Spike National Historic Site offers various activities during the summer and winter seasons. Learn more about the schedules.

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