Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sierra County Gold Rush Camps

The North Fork Bars
West From Downieville to Goodyears Bar
" A Bar is a deposit of alluvial material above or below the water line of current streams. Bars form where the current slows or changes direction. Early gold rush camps were often built on larger bars"

Josephine Bar
There is not much information available on Josephine Bar except for the fact that in James Sinnott’s book “Downieville Gold Town on the Yuba” a map drawn by Sinnott shows Josephine Bar directly across the Yuba River from the mouth of Slug Canyon.
The North Yuba River has experienced several major floods since the gold rush era and this small bar has virtually disappeared.
 Little Rich Bar
Philo Haven is credited with the founding of this site in September of 1849. While mining at Cut-Eye Foster’s Bar in August of that year Haven had met an Indian that possessed a gold nugget that was larger than any of those that were being found at Foster’s Bar and persuaded the Indian to lead him to the place where the nugget was found. The Indian indicated a spot directly across the river from the soon to be settlement of Coyoteville as the source of the nugget. On that spot Haven dug out an ounce and one half nugget and filed a claim at that location the same day. This site did not have an area large enough for a camp or settlement.
Big Rich Bar
Big Rich Bar was located a short distance east of Coyoteville and on the north side of the Yuba River. In September of 1849 several mining location notices of the Hedgepath & Company were already posted at this site. Although this bar was heavily mined I do not believe a settlement developed here. In the summer of 2008 a rare gold rush belt buckle was recovered from Big Rich Bar.
Founded in 1850 by Alec Donovan the small camp of Coyoteville sits a mile west of Downieville where Coyote Creek meets the North Yuba River. By 1852 two or three companies of miners were making good wages and extensive ground sluicing was being conducted at the mouth of Coyote Creek. In 1853 Samuel Stanley filed a claim on the water of Coyote Creek for the purpose of bringing it around the mountainside to Downieville where it would be used for sluicing gravel.
Mining continued at Coyoteville well into the middle 1860’s and the “diggings” produced some astounding amounts of placer gold. Wing dams and flumes constructed at Coyoteville drained the river bottom and allowed miners to work crevices that had been overlooked during the early ground sluicing of the area.
Today a restaurant, some cabins and one private home are standing among the large piles of boulders left over from the extensive gold rush era ground sluicing.

Cox’s Bar
A mining settlement of significant size developed at this site midway between Goodyears Bar and Downieville on the north side of the Yuba River in 1850. By 1854 a hotel known as the Empire House, Mikesell’s Saloon and a store run by O.F. Ackerly was providing services and goods for the miners of the settlement.
Fairly rich the bar was mined well into the late 1860’s and has been continually inhabited since the gold rush era. In later years an orchard was planted on the sloping ground overlooking the diggings and produced apples, pears, peaches and cherries.
On the west side of the bar boulder piles, left from early day ground sluicing and hydraulic mining, can still be seen. Cox’s Bar is still inhabited by two Sierra County families.
O.F. Ackerly originally opened a store in Cox’s Bar in 1854 but with the decline of that camp moved his business to Goodyears Bar
Snake Bar
In 1850 Snake Bar was the largest of the several concentrations of miners between Goodyears Bar and Downieville. The gently sloping land was sizable enough to accommodate a large settlement and the placer ground was extremely rich making this an ideal area for settlement. The bars on both sides of the North Yuba River, and the riverbed itself, were mined extensively until the gold was exhausted. Following the fire that destroyed the business district of Goodyears Bar in 1864 a flume was built from Snake Bar to provide water to mine the ground where the destroyed buildings stood. It is said that the first white child born in Sierra County, Sierra Woodall, was born at Snake Bar. Sometime in the 2000’s the United States Forest Service set fire to the last remaining cabin at Snake Bar. Today trout anglers and river rafters are about the only people to visit Snake Bar.

Map of the North Fork Bars from Downieville to Goodyears Bar
Ham Bar
Discovered in 1850 Ham Bar is located about a half mile below Snake Bar. Fairly rich the bar and river bed was worked well into the late 1860’s. Because of the small amount of land available for the building of cabins Ham Bar did not develop into a gold rush settlement of consequence. The majority of the miners working the bar lived at Snake Bar and walked the short half mile to the diggings. Field research indicates that Chinese miners worked this bar during the waning years of the gold rush. Later mining efforts to mine the ancient river channel in this area were not very successful and today only two people live at the site of Ham Bar.




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