(Is every gold area recorded on this map?)
Just like "A" list celebrities, certain gold mining locales tend to get more attention than those farther down the food chain. In some instances, an entire mining district can be totally forgotten and in this post I'd like to tell you about one of the latter.
Hundreds of Millions in Gold
I suspect every miner out there is familiar with the California Gold Rush and the better known gold mining place names like Hangtown, Rich Bar, Melones, Rough and Ready, Jamestown, and the Malakoff Diggings. From 1849-1855 hundreds of millions of dollars in placer gold was dug from the rivers, streams, creeks, gullies, and washes of California's Northern and Southern Motherlode Regions.
(Note: Here are a few facts and figures for you. By 1865, over $750,000,000 in placer and lode gold had been taken from California's Motherlode. This was when the average price per troy ounce of gold was a mere $16.00. At today's prices the amount of gold recovered during the height of the California Gold Rush would be a staggering 75 billion dollars!)
With this in mind, it's easy to see why the Golden State's small-scale miners still cast their eyes to the east and view the Sierra Nevada foothills with excitement and anticipation. After all, that's where the bulk of California's gold was...and still is.
However, less than 30 years after the start of the Gold Rush another, much less well-known gold strike occurred in California and this one wasn't in the Motherlode or the Sierras. In fact it occurred over 200 miles away to the west, not far from the coastal community of Monterrey.
Gold Prospecting Books
This gold strike occurred in the rugged Santa Lucia Mountains in 1875 just south of Monterrey and was rich enough to be called "yellow sands" by those gold prospectors and miners who were first on the scene. Once the formalities had been taken care of, claims located, and paperwork filed, this new gold strike was renamed the Los Burros Mining District.
At it's height the Los Burros District had over 2,000 active claims within its environs, most of these hard-rock ventures. However, placer gold was found in small amounts in the District in the form of fines, flakes, and nuggets.
Lest you think the Los Burros Mining District was small potatoes when it comes to gold...well, think again my friend. At minimum, the gold produced in the Santa Lucia Mountains during the heyday of Los Burros would be worth over $50,000,000 today.
(The Santa Lucias are depicted in this beautiful landscape painting.)
Among the rich discoveries in the Los Burros District were a 3.5 troy pound nugget and another whopper weighing in at over 5 troy pounds...yep, pounds, not ounces. Additionally, some of the gold vein material in the area was extremely rich (although the veins tended to pinch out early.)
Once the Los Burros Mining District was deemed "worked out" the miners and prospectors went their separate ways and as time progressed the gold of the Santa Lucias was forgotten. Even some Monterrey County histories written within the last 40 years don't even make mention of the District and its role in California gold production.
Now that you know about this forgotten gold maybe it's time to face westward for a change and prowl the Santa Lucias. Who knows, the old timers might have missed one of those multi-pound nuggets...
Best of luck.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "All About Gold Mineralization (Part 1)"
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2013
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org