Editors Alta: Having read in a recent number of the Union that a rich strike had been made at Colfax, we abandoned our claims on the twenty-third extension of the “Banner” with the intention of taking stock in this new and unparalleled discovery. Tho stage from Nevada reached Colfax at half-past nine in the morning, thus giving us sufficient lime to examine the country before the hour should arrive for the next down train. Seeing nothing immediately around the depot that indicated a “quartz formation” we walked over to Illinoistown, hoping to find at least some trifling indication of the reported richness of this part of Placer County.
Illinoistown lies about one mile southwest of Colfax, and is one of the oldest towns in the county. .No mining enterprise of any character whatever has, so far as we could learn, been started in the immediate vicinity of the town. We saw a man engaged in what we took to be an effort to develop one of the rich discoveries of which we had read, but on making inquiry of a friendly barber, were informed that the individual referred to was engaged in digging a cellar drain.
This enterprise, when taken in connection with an effort now being made by two Negroes and a Chinaman to bring water from Bear River for the purpose of irrigating three-quarters of an acre of land is a sufficient indication of the importance which this place will ultimately assume. A San Jose farmer on a visit to this place, a short time ago, exclaimed, while witnessing these efforts at internal improvement, that if it were not that San Jose’ had proven a lucky place to him, having buried there three wives, and with them all his troubles, he would at once dispose of his San Jose property and settle down at Colfax.
At one o’clock we took the “accommodation train” for Auburn, and on the following morning started for Forest Hill, in Placer County. The stage line from Auburn to Todd’s Valley and Forest Hill, a distance of 21 miles, is owned by a Mr. Powers, whose persevering industry has raised him, within the last few years, from an unenviable pecuniary condition to one of ease and affluence.
The road to the above places, at one point, overlooks the most precipitous and dizzy heights; at another lies through a pleasant valley, or forest; and then again approches some fearful precipice, overlooking the American River, which lies 2,000 feet below.
A view from the railroad to Cisco does not afford many grander scenes than may be witnessed from the Forest Hill road.
Doctor Todd of Auburn, after whom this valley is named, settled here in 1850, and is at present the owner of one of the finest ranches to be found anywhere in Placer County. The valley is from a quarter to a half mile in width, and about one mile in length. The soil is of the same character as the best Illinois prairie land, and is susceptible of the highest degree of cultivation.
The mining operations carried-on on the western side of the ridge that lies between the valley and Forest Hill, have destroyed a large part of the soil for agricultural purposes.
The claims of Pond & Co. and the Garland hydraulic claims are the leading mining enterprises. The first are worked through a “tail tunnel,” which opens into Big Tunnel Canyon, and are paying well. The Garland claims are worked through a flume that runs through the best portion of the agricultural part of the valley, and consequently to that extent prevent any efforts to cultivate that part of the district through which it passes.
The flume in question is one mile in length, and terminates by a tunnel which pierces the ridge at the lower end of the valley. It was built at an expense of $42,000.
These mines are on what is known as the “Blue Lead.” The bed rock is of a soft micaceous character, with an occasional range of slate, thus enabling parties to rapidly wash it down. The mines at Brushy Point, Sairsville, Forest Hill and Todd’s Valley are amply supplied with water by the Todd’s Valley Water Company. The town of Todd’s Valley supports a public, school, church— used by different denominations a post office and an Express Office.
The town of Forest Hill was commenced in 1858 and contains a population of perhaps 400 souls. The main part of the town is built on a long ridge, which runs East and West — its altitude being 3,600 feet, and from which may be seen Georgetown, Spanish Dry Diggings, Mount Gregory and Volcanoville all in El Dorado County. There is but one street, which runs parallel with the ridge, with an unvarying width of about one hundred and fifty feet. A public school, of seventy scholars, two churches, a Post Office, (recently designated a money-order office,) an express and telegraph office, are some are some indications of the importance of the place. There are four cement mills immediately at Forest Hill, each located on separate claims, and all of them considered as valuable property. We visited the Washington Mill and mine at Brushy Point, in company with Mr. Smith, who has been employed for two or three years past in erecting cement mills in this part of the county.
This mill has ten stamps and is worked by a hurdy-gurdy wheel, the pressure being about 275 feet and the amount of water used 30 inches. The mill had been in operation for the first time and worked admirably. The process in cement mill is not too complicated as in quartz-crushing-- the pan, shaking table and blanket not being used.
Most of the cement mining of this section is at Bath, a little town on the Michigan Bluff road, one and a half miles East, of Forest Hill, it is here that the well-known Dewey or Paragon, the Rough Gold, and Golden Gate mines are located. These three mines are within three hundred yards of each other, the Paragon being on the lower strata, and the other two on the lower strata or Blue Lead.
The following from a recent, issue of the Stars and Stripes, shows the character and manner of working these mines: The pay dirt which the Dewey Company is now working is a streak of cemented gravel from three to three and a half feet in thickness and about 100 feet above the bed rock. This streak crops out a short distance above the mouth of the main tunnel, and has been followed back into the hill by a drift from a ‘chute’ at the back end of the main tunnel to a point about 2,600 feet distant from the mouth of the latter. At the end of this drift the thickness of the pay streak is undiminished, and it appears to be richer than that heretofore worked. Between the front of the claim and the end of this main drift side drifts have been run toward the boundaries of the claim furnishing blocks for ‘breasting out.’ “Thus the claim has been perfected and proven at divers points throughout the distance of over two thousand feet, to a width of more than two hundred feet, and there is ground blocked out, and proven by the workings of the past year, sufficient to run the mill to the full capacity of its twenty stamps for full five years to come. And still the owners drive their main prospect drift ahead, confident that it will repay them to drive it 4 000 feet further. Above we have referred to the splendid improvements made during the past year. What about the proceeds and profits? The aggregate receipts for fifty-two weeks was a trifle $105,000 and the aggregate of expenses a little less than $65,000 leaving $40,000 to be divided between the four shareholders, and a safe surplus in the treasury, which is quite fair for an investment of $11,000. The cement averages 55. per ton, and the proceeds of crushing for each four weeks averages a little over $8000, the lowest having been $7,000 and the highest $14,000.
This was in the Alta Daily paper on the date shown at the top. UC Davis, is the campus that is saving as many of these old articles to an archive as they can. They scan the entire paper, page to page, then save it. Takes some time but you can see the original scan with the corrected text in a column on the left side of the page.