Gold Districts of California
Bulletin 193 California Division of Mines and Geology 1976
Table of Contents
Related: Where to Find Gold in California
The Michigan Bluff district is in south-central Placer County. It is best known as a placer-mining district, and includes the Turkey Hill, Byrd's Valley, and Baker Ranch areas. The Damascus district is to the north and the Forest Hill district is to the west.
The town, first settled in 1850, was originally known as Michigan City. In 1858 the land began to slide into the river, so the town was moved higher up on the mountain side and became Michigan Bluff. Hydraulic mining began here in 1853, and the district soon became highly productive. During the middle and late 1850s, the gold output averaged $100,000 per month. Leland Stanford, Governor of California and one of the builders of the Central Pacific Railroad, operated a store here from 1853 to 1855. His old home still stands. Activity in the area declined during the 1870s, but some work continued intermittently through the early 1900s and again in the 1930s. Much of the region was devastated by fire in 1960.
This district is at the junction of two major Tertiary channels, one that comes in from the north from the Damascus district and the other comes in from the southeast from Ralston Divide. Just to the north at Baker Ranch there is an intervolcanic channel. The lower gravels at Michigan Bluff are nearly pure quartz with many large boulders. The gravels were extremely rich, the gold yield from six million yards reportedly having been $5 million. Much of the gold was coarse. Bedrock is slate and schist, and to the west there is serpentine. Some narrow gold-quartz veins are present.
Placer Adams, Anna Sue, Baker Ranch, Beehive, Big Gun (Michigan Bluff) $1 million+, Bowen, Bower, Britt, Buckeye, Burnham, Burns, Burroughs, Drummond, Eastman, El Dorado Hill, Franklin, Golden Chief, Golden Gate, Gorman, Hazard, Hoffman, Imperial, Lightfoot, Manhattan, Mary Anna, Rainbow Land, Russel, Sage Hill, Turkey Hill, Washburn, Washington, Weeks, Weske. Lode: Bunker Hill and Nihill, Champion, Daniel Webster.
Jarman, Arthur, 1927, Michigan Bluff: California Min. Bur. Rept. 23, p.90.
Lindgren, Waldemor, 1900, Colfax folio: U. S. Geol. Survey Geol. Atlas of the U.S folio 66, 10 pp.
Lindgren, Waldemar, 1911, Tertiary grovels of the Sierra Nevada: U.S. Gear. Survey Prof. Paper 73, p. 152.
Logan, C.A., 1936, Gold Mines of Placer County, Michigan Bluff district: California Div. Mines Rept. 32, p. 10.
Waring, C. A., 1919, Placer County, Michigan Bluff district: California Min. Bur. Rept. 15, p. 318.
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