Ancient River of Gold

This ancient river of gold is by far the largest of the Tertiary rivers of the Sierra Nevada of California. It will be seen on Big Ten’s California Gold Map 5 that the Tertiary Yubu runs through or into the counties of Plumas, Sierra, Yuba, Nevada, Placer and El Dorado.
Ancient Yuba has numerous branches wandering throughout the area between Marysville and Lake Tahoe. The general drainage is from east to west; but in some of the branches the flow was from south to north and in other branches it was from north to south.

The Ancient Yuba River has been a rich source of gold. The famous gold towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City are along the course of the Ancient Yuba, as are the numerous gold deposit sites south of Downieville in Tahoe National Forest.
The deepest trough-shaped depressions in the drainage basin of the Tertiary Yuba River are usually filled to a depth of 50 to 200 feet by coarse gravels which ordinarily have been cemented so that they cannot be washed without crushing. Bench gravels cover the deep gravels and in some places the bench gravels spread out to a width of one to two miles. The bench gravels contain much quartz. The pebbles are smaller than the deep gravels and always, except close to the headwaters, well rounded and polished. Fossil leaves have been found in the bench gravels.

The courses of the present-day Yuba River, including it’s North Fork, Middle Fork, South Fork and the smaller tributaries that feed them are also shown on Gold Map 5.

The Tertiary American River follows a more or less east to west course from south of Lake Tahoe to the town of Roseville northeast of Sacramento and Carmichael. It crosses California State Highway 49 a couple of miles south of gold-rich Placerville.

The Ancient Intervolcanic American River has many gold deposit sites along it’s course. It starts in Tahoe National Forest near the North fork of the present-day American river, then winds it’s way southwesterly to Auburn, Placer County. Many gold sites are near Auburn. One branch of the Ancient Intervolcanic American River circles around Volcanoville, which is noted for it’s gold.

Magalia Channel is just north of Paradise, Butte County and gold sites are on both sides of the channel. A 54 pound nugget was found at Magalia. The West Branch of Feather River runs near and crosses this ancient channel south of Last Chance Creek.

The Ancient Jura River is from the Jurassic Period, which makes it much older than the ancient rivers of the Tertiary Period. The course of this ancient river traces from Sierra County past Blairsden and Cromberg in Plumas County and Mount Ingalls. There are very few gold sites along the Jura River.

Tertiary Mokelumne River starts in Eldorado National Forest and runs westward. It terminates about 8 miles west of California State Highway 49 not far from the town of Plymouth in Amador County. Two branches of the river originate near the North Fork of the Cosumnes River. Quite a few gold sites occur along the westernmost branch and along the main course of the ancient river near the towns of Volcano and Plymouth.

A considerable number of gold sites parallel the Tertiary Calaveras River. Tertiary Calaveras itself parallels the South Fork of the Stanislaus River just north of Columbia Historical State Park. The ancient river continues westward to California State Highway 49 and parallels the gold camps north to San Andreas. It terminates near Valley Springs in Calaveras County.
Rich gold deposits occur near the branches of ancient Calaveras. Hundreds of gold sites appear on Gold Map 5 along and between the two northern branches that originate near the towns of Sutter Creek and West Point.

Tertiary Tuolumne River parallels the present-day Tuolumne River from Oakland Recreation Camp in the Stanislaus National Forest to Chinese Camp by Highway 49. There are many gold sites both north and south of this ancient river and near the towns of Coulterville, Jacksonville, Jamestown and Tuolumne.

The ancient Intervolcanic Cataract Channel originates in Calaveras Big Trees National Forest in Tuolumne County. It crosses the North Fork of the Stanislaus River into Calaveras County. It then crosses the Stanislaus River near Carson Hill, Columbia State Park and Squabbletown. The channel continues in a southwesterly direction a few miles west of Sonora and Jamestown and terminates at the Tuolumne/Stanislaus County line. A considerable number of gold deposit sites exist at each of the aforementioned towns.