Elephant Eagle Gold Mine - Mojave, CA
Rawhide Mine - Toulumne, California
Hydraulic Gold Mine - Weaverville, CA - 1898
Hupp-McMurray Gold Mine- Trinity CO, Weaverville, CA
Mammoth Mine Open Air Roasting at Iron Mnt. above Kennett, CA
The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) began on January 24, 1848, when gold was discovered by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill, in Coloma, California. News of the discovery soon spread, resulting in some 300,000 men, women, and children coming to California from the rest of the United States and abroad. The early gold-seekers, called "Forty-niners" (as a reference to 1849) traveled to California by sailing boat and in covered wagons across the continent, often facing substantial hardships on the trip.

At first, the prospectors retrieved the gold from streams and riverbeds using simple techniques, such as panning. More sophisticated methods of gold recovery developed which were later adopted around the world. At its peak, technological advances reached a point where significant financing was required, increasing the proportion of corporate to individual miners. Gold worth billions of today's dollars was recovered, which led to great wealth for a few. However, many returned home with little more than they had started with.

In what has been referred to as the "first world-class gold rush," there was no easy way to get to California; forty-niners faced hardship and often death on the way. At first, most Argonauts, as they were also known, traveled by sea. From the East Coast, a sailing voyage around the tip of South America would take five to eight months, and cover some 18,000 nautical miles. An alternative was to sail to the Atlantic side of the Isthmus of Panama, to take canoes and mules for a week through the jungle, and then on the Pacific side, to wait for a ship sailing for San Francisco. There was also a route across Mexico starting at Veracruz. Many gold-seekers took the overland route across the continental United States, particularly along the California Trail.

The California gold rush was not merely an American happening--it was a world event. Many mines, especially in the south, were worked by foreigners who came solely for the gold. Chinese, Chileans, Mexicans, Irish, Germans, French, and Turks all sought their fortune in California. Like their American-born counterparts, foreign miners had no intention of staying in California.

By 1850, most of the easily accessible gold had been collected, and attention turned to extracting gold from more difficult locations. There was still gold in the riverbeds, but it was getting harder and harder to find. A typical miner spent 10 hours a day knee-deep in ice cold water, digging, sifting, washing. It was backbreaking labor that yielded less and less. Faced with gold increasingly difficult to retrieve, Americans began to drive out foreigners to get at the most accessible gold that remained. The new California State Legislature passed a foreign miners tax of twenty dollars per month, and American prospectors began organized attacks on foreign miners, particularly Latin Americans and Chinese.

As the gold became more difficult to extract, profound changes in California took root. By the early 1850s, a single miner could no longer work his claim alone. He needed help and he needed technology. At first, miners banded together in informal companies to dam the rivers, reroute the water and expose the gold underneath. But soon even more capital-intensive measures were needed to extract the gold and the loose knit groups of miners were replaced by corporations. By the mid 1850s, most of the miners who remained were employees, a way of life they found distasteful but necessary. 

The new mining corporations developed extraction techniques that were frighteningly efficient, techniques that destroyed the rivers and caused California's first environmental disasters. Massive derricks lifted rock and sand--obliterating the formerly pristine rivers. The worst of the large scale mining techniques came in 1853 - hydraulic mining. Huge jets of water tore apart the walls of the riverbeds. By the 1860s it was clear that hydraulic mining was destroying the landscape, but little was done to stop it. Californians still had an attitude of exploitation, an attitude the miners had from the beginning. It took over thirty years to ban hydraulic mining--thirty years to change California's attitude of exploitation. The rivers of northern California would never return to their pristine state. But then no part of California would be the same after the gold rush.
Calaveras Consolidated Gold Mining Co. Robinsons Ferry, Calaveras Co., CA
Mammoth Copper Mine - W. Shasta District,  N. of Redding at Iron Mnt. above Kennett, CA
Mountain Copper Co. - Matheson, CA
National Mining & Milling Co. - Solvang, CA
The Shasta copper-zinc belt is in west-central Shasta County in the foothills of the Klamath Mountains and a few miles north of Redding. The two main areas of mineralization are known as the West and East Shasta districts. Gold and silver-bearing gossans were originally mined in these districts during the 1860s. Later, from the 1890s to about 1920, copper and zinc ores were mined in large quantities and treated in several nearby smelters.

The copper deposits which have been actively mined and smelted since 1895 are found in a number of districts in Shasta County, California; among the more prominent mines are the Iron Mountain, Bully Hill, Mammoth, and Balaklala.  The production of copper in 1917 was 26,700,000 pounds. Substantial amounts of by-product gold were recovered in these operations. In the Shasta District, for example, the Mammoth Mine, during the period of 1905 to 1925, yielded 132,510 ounces of gold from zinc / copper ore at an average of .039 ounces of gold per ton.

The Sierra Nevada Foot Hills copper belt occuppies a somewhat extensive area west of the mother lode gold belt. The ores at times carry considerable lead, zinc and precious metals.The most important mines in the foothill belt have been the Big Bend mine, Butte County, Spenceville and Boss mines, Nevada County; Dairy Farm and Valley View mines, Placer County; Copper Hill and Newton mines, Amador County; Penn, Quail Hill, Napoleon, Collier, Keystone-Union, and North Keystone mines, Calaveras County; Blue Moon, Pocahontas, Green Mountain and La Victoria mines, Mariposa County; Buchanan, Jessie Belle, and Daulton mines, Madera County; and Fresno Copper and Copper King mines, Fresno County.
 Argonaut Mine - Jackson, CA
Empire Mine - Grass Valley,  1900
 North Shaft - Kennedy Mine - Jackson, CA
Mount Ophir Stamp Mill - Mount Ophir, CA
California placer mining
California placer mining
Gold Dredges - Oroville, CA
Underground in a California gold mine
Tungsten Chief Mining Co. - Caliente, Kern County, CA
White & Chinese Miners - Auburn Ravine, CA
Working a sluice - Spanish Flat, CA 1852
Mining Scene on the American River - California
 Argonaut Mine - Jackson, CA
Empire Mine - Grass Valley, CA
Empire Mine - Grass Valley, CA
The Empire Mine operated for 106 years, from 1850-1956, producing some 5.8 million ounces of gold from 367 miles of underground workings. The Empire Mine was the richest individual gold mine in California

George Roberts, the original discoverer of the gold, on what became known as the Ophir vein,  soon sold his interest and by 1869 William Bourn Sr. owned controlling interest. The Bourn family maintained control of the mine until 1929 when it was sold to Newmont Mining. Newmont also purchased the North Star Mine, resulting in Empire-Star Mines, Ltd.

By the 1950s, inflation costs for gold mining were leaving the operation unprofitable. In 1956 a crippling miners strike over falling wages ceased operations. The mine was officially closed a year later on May 28, 1957 when the last water pumps were shut and removed.

In 1975 the State purchased the surface property as the Empire Mine State Historic Park.
Santa Ana Tin Mine - Trabuco Canyon,
Orange County, CA
Santa Ana Tin Mine - Trabuco Canyon,  Orange County, CA
Santa Ana Tin Mine - Trabuco Canyon, Orange County, CA
Empire Mine - Grass Valley, CA
Empire Mine - Grass Valley, CA
Empress Mine - Grass Valley, CA
Ophir Quartz Mill - Grass Valley, CA
New Kennedy Mine - Jackson, CA
California Hydraulic Mining
California Hydraulic Mining
 Argonaut Mine - Jackson, CA
The Kennedy Mine is named for Andrew Kennedy, who reportedly discovered a quartz ledge in the late 1850s. The Kennedy Mining Company was formed in 1860 when he and three partners began digging shafts near today's mine property entrance. The mine operated sporadically until it closed in 1878. In 1886 fifteen people invested $97,600 to reopen the mine under the corporate entity of the Kennedy Mining and Milling Company.

In 1898 the company began sinking a new shaft 1,950 feet east of the original shafts. This East Shaft would reach a vertical depth of 5,912 feet, the deepest vertical depth gold mine in North America at the time The company operated the mine until 1942 when the U.S. Government closed gold mines because of the war effort.

At the time of its closing, the mine had produced some $34.3 million when gold was valued at $20.67 per ounce. 
The Idaho-Maryland Gold Mine is located in Grass Valley, California. The Idaho-Maryland Mine was the second-largest underground gold mine in California, producing about 2.4 million ounces of gold from 1861 until 1956. It is adjacent to the historic Empire Mine, which was historically the largest operating underground gold mine in California. The Empire Mine operated from 1850 until 1956, producing 5.8 million ounces of gold. The Grass Valley gold district has reportedly produced over 17 million ounces of gold from 1850 until the mid 1950's, and is considered to be one of the richest gold districts in North America.
Idaho Maryland Mine - Grass Valley, CA
Idaho Maryland Mine - Grass Valley, CA
Idaho Maryland Mine - Grass Valley, CA
Idaho Maryland Mine - Grass Valley CA,
Idaho Maryland Mine - Grass Valley, CA
Idaho Maryland Mine - Grass Valley, CA
New Albany Mine & Mill - Tuolomne, CA
St. Isabelle Mine - Quartz Mnt., Tuolomne Co., CA
Placer Mining in Columbia Gulch, Tuolumne, CA. 
Elephant Eagle Gold Mine - Mojave, CA
Tesla Coal Mine - Corral Hollow, Tesla, Alameda Co. CA
Tesla Coal Mine - Corral Hollow, Tesla, Alameda Co. CA
Grass Valley Miners
Tightner Mine - Alleghany, CA
Stonewall Mine - Cuyamaca Lake, San Diego County, CA
Balaklala Copper Mine Smelter - Shasta Co. CA 1910
Tesla Coal Mine - Corral Hollow, Tesla, Alameda Co. CA
Tesla Coal Mine - Corral Hollow, Tesla, Alameda Co. CA
Tungstar Mine in Pine Creek Canyon,  N. side of Mt. Tom, Inyo County, CA