Specific Areas of Interest in Southern California's Transverse Ranges (Part 2)

In this post I'll be continuing this series with additional, more specific gold areas of interest in SoCal's Transverse Ranges. This information should be of interest to all you Southland miners and prospectors out there.

Lytle Creek District

This district lies in the eastern portion of the San Gabriel Mountains about 15 miles northwest of San Bernardino. Lytle Creek and its immediate environs were essentially placer workings historically speaking, although significant amounts of hard-rock mining took place elsewhere in the San Gabriels. The placer gold here is found in both stream and wash gravels, as well as in extensive benches that run for miles along or near the creek. There was a lot of placer mining activity here all through the 1800s and in the 1890s hydraulicking operations were conducted to free the gold from those benches already mentioned. There's been a lot of small-scale mining activity in and near Lytle for many years and in the past it was a favorite location for weekend or day outings by individuals and prospecting clubs. Today the U.S. Forest Service maintains control over part of this area and there are also commercial enterprises there that cater to campers, hikers, and fishermen. So if you're interested in checking Lytle Creek out for gold check first to determine the status of the specific locations(s) you're interested in.

 (South fork of Lytle Creek.)

Morongo District

This is a highly localized lode gold area in the Little San Bernardino Mountains about 15 miles north of the desert resort community of Palm Springs. The gold here is associated with numerous but very narrow quartz veins that are sulfidic (iron stained) in nature and are hosted by schist and granite country rock. Not a whole lot of work was done at Morongo in the larger scale sense of things. Most of the prospecting and mining in the district has been conducted by individuals or small groups of miners. The historical background of the Morongo District is pretty sketchy overall, with little info on gold production or specific mines.

Mount Baldy District

This area is also referred to as the "Old Baldy Diggings" and is centered at Mount San Antonio in the San Gabriel Mountains some 15 miles north of the city of Pomona. Significant amounts of placer gold were taken from the district from 1840 until the end of the Depression Era of the 1930s. Historical records indicate that at least $2,000,000 (USD) in gold were recovered from placers in the area while at least $50,000 in gold was mined from lode workings. Again, let me remind you that these dollar figures for the gold recovered in the Mount Baldy District were based on the going gold prices of the times, not on today's prices. If you do the math based on gold at over $1,000 per troy ounce, the gold production of this district was astronomical from a monetary standpoint. Placer gold at Mount Baldy is found in stream, wash, and terrace gravels while the lode gold is contained in quartz veins with schist and gneiss as the host rock. Quite a bit of tungsten was recovered in the district as a byproduct of lode operations as well. Be aware that part of the Mount Baldy has been set aside by the "greenies" as a conservation area (see photo below).

Mount Gleason

This not considered a mining district as such, but the area around Mount Gleason has produced small amounts of gold from hard rock ventures. The area can be found about 15 miles north of the city of Pasadena in the San Gabriel Mountains. The Mount Gleason area was a lot like Morongo...lots of narrow and very shallow quartz veins in schist and granite. The main difference between the two locales, though, is the fact that a number of rich pockets have been found at Mount Gleason. So you pocket hunters take note. There is little if any mining activity at Mount Gleason today, just folks like you and I who like to get outdoors and do a bit of prospecting. Again, any time one of these gold areas is near a bustling SoCal town or city development and private property issues may rear their ugly heads, so be forewarned.

(Mount Gleason area.)

Neenach District

This is a fairly small lode district about 10 miles east of Gorman and a bit north of Portal Ridge. Despite its localized nature, at least $200,000 in gold was recovered here from quartz stringers (very narrow veins) hosted by schist and quartz-monzonite. The gold at Neenach was discovered fairly late in comparison to other Transverse Ranges locations. It wasn't until 1899 that gold's presence there was revealed and the district wasn't worked seriously until the 1930s when Depression Era "down-'n-outers" tried making a go of it there. Since the 1930s only small-scale miners have prowled the district.

Piru Creek District

This district has long been a favorite for gold panners and small-scale guys and gals venturing out and away from Los Angeles and its sprawling suburbs. Piru Creek is in northeastern Ventura County about 15 miles southwest of Gorman. Again, the Forest Service controls the Angeles National Forest area where Piru is located. There used to be an area of Piru Creek set aside for small-scale mining activities but that was 30+ plus years ago and God only knows what the status of things is at Piru these days. I can tell you one thing...no suction dredging! This area was first mined way back in 1841 and that activity continued right up until the 1890s when things tapered off significantly. During the Depression years many would-be miners hit Piru Creek again, hoping to avoid soup lines and at least feed themselves with small amounts of gold. One nice thing about the placer gold in and around Piru is that it's often quite coarse and chunky. That should get your juices flowing! The Piru District is primarily composed of placers, but some lodes were worked there as well. The lode gold here is found in quartz veins hosted by schist and gneiss, while Piru's placer gold is found in streams and nearby terraces.

(Piru Creek.)

Best of luck out there to one and all!

(c) Jim Rocha 2018

Questions? E-mail me at jr872vt90@yahoo.com


  1. Very interested in Baldy, my folks live at the base of the mountain and I've gone up for day trips, beautiful area and relarively quiet in the summer. Any idea about the elevation of where the stream placer gold would be? Is there a cut off elevation for placer gold? Best, Weston.

    1. Your best bet are the lower gradients where gold can settle or deposit. If the stream flow is too steep or fast it's not good for deposition.


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