Hollywood Hills Gold and Other Oddities in California's Transverse Ranges (Conclusion)
It's time to continue on with a few of the "oddities" concerning gold in California's Transverse Ranges. You may be surprised at some of the locations that pop up in this post, so read on.
Hydraulicking in the San Gabriels
When most of us think of hydraulicking for gold, images of the California Motherlode and Alaska come to mind, as well as some other isolated locations in the American West and Southwest. But there was enough gold entrained in high bench placers in the San Gabriel Mountains to warrant the use of hydraulic mining methods. Remember, hydraulicking involved the use of very large hoses or pipes that fed large amounts of water under pressure to an over-sized cast iron or brass nozzle called a "monitor." The stream of water spewing out of a monitor was strong enough to be directed at benches from a distance and could literally tear down entire hillsides, which in fact it did quite easily. The resultant flows of muddy muck and gravel were then directed through a series of "long toms" to capture the gold. Hydraulicking like this took place from the late 1800s right up until 1900 near Lytle Creek along the upper reaches of the San Gabriel River. Some of the old cuts and hydraulicked excavations from this period can still be seen in the San Gabriels today.
(Hydraulicking in the San Gabriels.)
Take it From an Old Timer
Allow me the privilege of digressing a bit here. I was living, working, mining, and treasure hunting in Southern California when gold started hitting the mid-800 dollar per troy ounce range in 1980. Just a year earlier gold had hit a high of $524.00, doubling its value from 1978. Granted, the price of gold during the period from the late-1970s all through the 1980s fluctuated a great deal, but when it hit $850.00 an ounce every would-be, pie-in-the-sky, strike-'er-rich weekend gold panner and small-scale guy or gal was rushing back to old gold locations in the Transverse Ranges as well as those dry desert placers to the east. I know, I was part of that frenzy! My only forays into the Transverse Ranges were to a claim along the Kern River though. The rest of the time I worked some of those desert placers in Southeastern California and made annual forays up to the Northern Motherlode Region during the summer months to dredge and highbank the North Yuba. With gold at $800+ (USD) the "gold rush" mentality seen in the resurgence of small-scale gold mining in the Tranverse Ranges was duplicated in the Motherlode. I was amazed at the number of gold dredges working the North Yuba compared to previous years when gold was much lower. We all saw this happen again back in the 2007-2008 timeframe when gold started approaching the high 800s again on its eventual way to over $1,000 per troy ounce. And one thing I should add here is that anytime gold hits new highs the dream merchants and scammers flourish, and new prospecting clubs sprout up like weeds. Take it from an old timer...this was as true in 1980 as it is today.
(A family effort back in the 1980s.)
Quite a Comparison
As most of you know, Southern California suffers from the "too many rats in the cage syndrome." This is the primary factor that eventually forced my hand in leaving my home state, as I've already stated. Currently the population of Southern California (including cities like San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, etc., etc., ad infinitum) is close to 24 million souls. Here in New Mexico we have about 1.5 million people in the entire state, which happens to be the fifth largest in the United States in terms of square miles. Quite a comparison when we talk about rats scurrying hither and thither in their cages, isn't it? The massive urbanization, over-population, and rampant, uncontrolled development that has overtaken SoCal means that many smaller gold placers (including one I discovered by my lonesome and I still call the "Lost Rocha Mine") have been scraped away, dug out, and the natural gold replaced by asphalt, parking lots, strip malls, housing developments, and condo complexes. This is also true for some areas of the Transverse Ranges we've already discussed, so you may be disappointed if venturing into certain locations mentioned in this series of posts. By the way, I know some of you live in Cali and specifically in Southern California. I mean no disrespect to any of you by my criticisms of SoCal. I used to live there too. But me? I'm one of those folks who doesn't like crowds and needs some open space around me. OK?
One of the weirdest things I've learned from the materials that Randy S. sent me was the fact that some small, but rich gold veins once existed in the Transverses near Bel Air and in the Holmby Hills area close to Beverly Hills and just about five miles from Santa Monica Boulevard, and the Hollywood Hills! As some of you know, Bel Air and Beverly Hills contain some of the priciest real estate in West Los Angeles. This is where many movie stars and film magnates live, among others of the so-called upper classes. Gold-bearing gravels were found and mined on a small-scale in these areas once upon a time, especially in Benedict and Laurel Canyons. I'm frigging gob-smacked! But you'd play hell trying to turn color in these locations today for any number of reasons, not of least of which would be being placed under arrest for trespassing. The movie moguls know how to turn lots of gold for themselves and their self-inflated, pouty "stars," but it ain't through the use of a pick, shovel, and gold pan. There it is...
(Benedict Canyon today.)
Again, my thanks to Randy S. for sending me some highly interesting info
Have a good one. Be kind to yourself while you're at it.
(c) Jim Rocha 2018
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org