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Gold Bug Mine


It wasn’t long before the prospectors were panning in the stream running through Gold Bug Park following the gold discovery in Coloma on January 24, 1848, only eight miles away. Big Canyon Creek was rich in gold for those early prospectors who could just pluck the gold from the stream.

Several prospector huts lined Big Canyon Creek during the early years of the Gold Rush. Every spring the streams and rivers throughout the Mother Lode produced a new crop of gold into the river bottoms. It was coming from the quartz veins outcropping into the streams and being washed away.

Once the panning operations were not turning up much gold, hard rock mining came into being. In 1860 hard rock mining was established throughout the area and small mining companies and miners were digging their own drifts following the veins into the sides of the hills.

In 1888, The Hattie Mine was opened by William Craddock and John Dench. The Hattie, so named after Craddock’s eldest daughter, was first established across the canyon. However, it played out. The larger vein structures were noted on the south side of the canyon and a new drift was started. They followed the vein well back into the mine before circumstances dictated a sale.
John McKay took over in 1926 and turned at an angle to search for a more prominent vein structure. What you see today is the result of his work. Tracks were laid for the ore cars to assist in the removal of the ore. The ore was then taken outside and run through a crusher to extract the gold.

The air shaft was probably established to provide clean air for the workers to work in the mine. After a day’s work it would take 24 hours for the air to exchange so the men could start to work again. It is believed that no more than 2-3 men worked the mine at a time.

It is not known how much gold was removed! No records were kept. During World War II the mines throughout the Mother Lode were closed by order of the President as gold mining was considered a non-essential industry and men were needed to go to war.
The last owner of the four mining claims of the park area was held by William Meagher who owned the Independent Iron Works in Oakland, CA. He spent many hours working the mines and the area to keep his title on the property. His family always came with him and spent time swimming behind the dam he created on Big Canyon Creek, and hiking in the area while he worked. He built a summer cabin which still exists today at the end of the road. The Gold Bug Park Committee plans to turn the building into an nature center describing the flora and fauna of the area.



  1. Paisley,
    I learned a lot of things from this blog. Sounds like a good setting for a future romance.
    They seem to have been more concerned with the safety of the miners than some owners are today. I hate what has happened to the miners in South America.

  2. Fascinating post. I hadn’t heard of those mines, even though I love that area. Thanks.

  3. I am using some of this info in my current wip, Mary Ann. We have so much great history around my area. 🙂

  4. We have so many mines around our area and they do give great ideas for writing in this era. Our last house was built over a tunnel and we almost didn’t get the loan because we only owned the first several feet down as the original mine owners owned the mineral rights. Very strange!

  5. How cool! I agree this would be great background material for a story. I always think of people panning for gold, not mining it.

    I’ve visited old coal mines in my area that are no longer mined. It’s amazing to imagine men working in those conditions.

  6. Thanks, Susan. They also had placer mining along with panning and digging. They would shoot high powered water against the rocks to break away parts and pieces. Lots of history around here.

  7. The number of mines and mine shafts must be amazing. Who knows where they go. How scary that there was one under your house. It sounds like a fascinating area to visit. One of these days I’d like to see the area. Thanks Paisley!

  8. Shelley says:

    Although my writing is about Texas, I’m currently teaching college in California, and there are some here who theorize that the “finding gold” beginnings of this state gave a curve to its psyche that lasts to this day. Good or bad? I don’t know.

  9. In the beginning I think ‘finding gold fever’ might have been a good thing to populate the state. However, it has obviously gone awry in the past years.

  10. I live in Idaho and we have lots of abandoned mining towns here too. What a great setting for a book. You’ve got some fantastic history here. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Thanks Clarissa. Actually today my daughter and I spent a couple of hours at Gold Bug Mine and toured inside the mine, took photos and also went up to the stamp press mill too. I have lots more correct information for my story. Luckily two of the men working there loved to talk…

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