Amador County California Gold Production


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The initial discoveries, in 1849, of gold-quartz veins in Mariposa County at the southern end of the Mother Lode soon led to discoveries in Amador County, which became the most productive of the Mother Lode counties.

Placers were also productive after the 1850's, especially at Volcano, but also at Fiddletown and other localities along the Cosumnes River.

Early gold production is unrecorded, but from 1880 through 1959 Amador County produced 6,320,000 ounces. Between 1903 and 1958, a total of 4,173,947 ounces was produced from lode mines, and 289,835 ounces, from placers. In 1959 only 62 ounces, undifferentiated as to source, was produced. Carlson and Clark (1954, p. 164) estimated that lode mines produced a total of more than $160 million (about 7,729,000 ounces).


The Cosumnes River placers are along the Cosumnes River in the northwest part of Amador County, near Plymouth.

The U.S. Bureau of Mines (1933-66) reported that only 166 ounces of gold was produced from this district since 1932; however, Carlson and Clark (1954, p. 199) reported that in recent years intermittent dredging operations processed 2,125,000 cubic yards of gravel of the Cosumnes River, which averaged 18 cents in gold per cubic yard. This is roughly equivalent to 10,900 ounces of gold.


The Fiddletown district is in the southern part of T. 8 N., R. 11 E., in northwest Amador County. Only meager data are available on its history and production. Drift mining and dredging of the Tertiary gravels began in the 1850's and continued on a small scale until the early 1950's (Carlson and Clark, 1954, p. 199). Fragmentary records indicate that the district produced between 10,000 and 100,000 ounces of gold.


The Mother Lode district, about a mile wide, crosses the west-central part of Amador County from north to south.

The lode mines began producing in the 1850's, and by 1872, 35 mills were in the district. The Old Eureka mine, 1,350 feet deep, was acknowledged as the deepest shaft in the United States (Knopf, 1929, p. 5) and was the largest producer on the entire Mother Lode in the early days. It was consolidated with the Central Eureka in 1924 after several years of inactivity. Production from these two mines to 1951 was about $36 million (Carlson and Clark, 1954, p. 174).

Other important Mother Lode mines in Amador County were the Kennedy, Argonaut, and Keystone, which produced $34,280,-000, $25,179,000, and $24,000,000 in gold respec¬tively (Carlson and Clark, 1954, p. 166). Total production of the district through 1959 was about 7,675,000 ounces.


The Volcano district is in T. 7 N., R. 12 E., in west-central Amador County. Other than brief mention by Lindgren (1911, p. 199) and Carlson and Clark (1954, p. 165), little has been published about this district.

Volcano was the center of the early hydraulic mining of the gravels of the Tertiary Mokelumne River. As production data were not found, it can only be roughly estimated that of the 289,835 ounces of gold produced from placers in Amador County since 1903, the Volcano district probably produced not more than 100,000 ounces, and this was before 1932.

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