Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sierra County Gold rush Camps

The North Fork Bars

West from Goodyears Bar to Indian Valley

Texas Bar
Located on the north side of the North Yuba about a 1/8th of a mile west of Goodyears Creek this settlement was quite possibly founded by miners from Texas in the early 1850’s. Later mined by Chinese miners the bar was worked with water wheels and derricks. It is believed the Chinese settlement also had a Joss, or Chinese temple, erected at this site. Remains of a stone structure, with scattered Chinese pottery around it, lead me to believe that indeed, a Joss house existed at this site. The re-alignment of Highway 49 during the 1960’s partially covered this gold rush era camp.

Hoodoo Bar
This small mining camp was located one quarter mile below Goodyears Bar on the south side of the Yuba River is said to have received its name from the way the local Indians said “How do you do” sounding like Hoodoo. Although this bar was mined in the early 1850’s there is no mention of activity at this site until 1863 when a store and several houses are listed by the Sierra County Tax Collector. A foot trail from Goodyears Bar, on the south side of the Yuba River, leads to a bluff above Hoodoo Bar. On this bluff remnants of the store, cabins and gold rush era bottle shards are scattered about the area.
Rantedottler Bar
As early as 1950 this good size bar located one quarter mile below Hoodoo Bar was prospected and mined for gold. Major Downie filed a mining claim and built a cabin at this site in 1851. Mined from the 1850’s until the early 1880’s a store, warehouse, bridge and several cabins were constructed at Rantedottler Bar and gold production was steady but not spectacular. Several floods and high water have disturbed this site and little remains of this gold rush camp.
Miners working a river bar
One of the earliest and simplest way to work a river bar was done all by hand.  The miners in the background are digging out the “pay dirt” that the wheelbarrow man is ferrying to a sluice box. Part of the river has been diverted to run a water wheel that supplies the water needed to wash the pay dirt to extract the gold. On the left the half-round dark spots appear to be drift tunnels that the miners are digging into the upper area of the bar.
Cutthroat Bar/Woodville Bar
 Located a short distance above St. Joe Bar this small gold rush camp received its name supposedly from a sick German miner who cut his throat at this site. This camp should not be confused with the supply and mining camp further down the Yuba River near Canyon Creek and known as Cut-Eye Foster’s Bar. Of the little amount of information available on this site it is known that Ah Sing and Ah Chime sold to Ah Tsung a mining claim at Woodville Bar in 1865 and Ah Youw was operating a derrick and two water wheels during the same period. From this information it can be assumed that during the early 1850’s gold rush miners worked this area and later on it was re-mined by Chinese miners.
St. Joe Bar
Another settlement to develop in the vicinity of Goodyears Bar was a camp with the early name of St. Joe Bar. Founded sometime in 1850 and boosting a store as early as 1852 it was a significant enough settlement to hold a meeting in 1852 of several hundred miners to determine the mining laws of the district. In the mid 1850’s the bar was renamed Ramshorn and re-mined by Chinese miners. Chinese pottery, gold rush bottles and artifacts have been found in the area documenting the early settlement of this site. The United States Forest Service’s Indian Rock Picnic Ground now occupies St. Joe Bar.
Map of the North Fork Bars from Goodyears Bar to Indian Valley
Indian Valley
Pack Trails to the North Yuba principal towns of the early 1850’s, Downieville, Goodyears Bar and Brandy City, circumvented Indian Valley because of the poor condition of the trails through the area. A small settlement started here in the mid 1850’s but not until a good road was built from Indian Hill to Indian Valley in the late 1850’s did the area begin to develop. The road from Indian Hill to Indian Valley traveled down a steep grade to the south bank of the North Yuba River, where a toll bridge and ferry serviced travelers using the road. Indian Valley did grow in the late 1850’s and according to Bill Meek in his book, The Life Story of Bill Meek “The population of Indian Valley at that time (1859) consisted of whites, Chinese, and Indians – one camp that had no colored population. There were 19 white families, three who had tied up with Indian Women; 150 single miners; 110 Chinese; and 300 Indians”. Indian Valley continued to grow in the 1860’s and the recovery of gold was steady but not spectacular. The settlement expanded and was located on both the north and south side on the Yuba River.
Extensive dragline dredging of the Indian Valley area prior to World War Two has destroyed any evidence of gold rush activity and left the landscape littered with scores of boulder piles. Campgrounds and a small store and restaurant now rest on this site. At a cabin site on the trail from Indian Hill to Indian Valley a broken Catawba Wine Bitters and pieces of a Lediard’s Stomach Bitters were un-earthed in the mid 1990’s.



 Bears Grease was used for everything from boot grease to pie crust during the gold rush.
 Dozens of examples of different  kinds of pot lids have been discovered in Sierra County



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