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Lost Treasures of Northern California

Mar 19th 2011 at 1:36 PM

Gold Coins at Bloody Springs As in many places of the American West, the friction between the scores of men entering California during its Gold Rush days and the Indians was often bitter. Weary of the white men continuing to encroach upon their lands, the danger to travelers was very high when entering the California from the northeast. As the California Trail proceeded south into the SacramentoValley on the Pit River route, wagon trains and travelers were often ambushed by the natives. Bloody Springs, at the lower end of Spring Gulch, was the scene of numerous attacks, hence its name. Smaller groups were often wiped out. California Gold Miners Engraving of California gold miners, John Andrew, mid 1800's.

On one such occasion an entire emigrant train was massacred by the Indians. Only one man survived to tell the story. Finally, he made his way to Fort Crook, telling of how the train was carrying approximately $60,000 in $20 gold coins. Before he made his getaway, the man witnessed the Indians competing to see who could throw the shiny disks across the Pit River Gorge. The "contest” continued until each and every one of the gold coins was either in the river or lodged into the rock walls of the gorge. Today, an occasional gold piece is still found at Bloody Springs in Lassen County. Bloody Springs is located a few miles southeast of Pittsville above the banks of the Pit River. Poker Flat Cache From the 1850’s to the 1880’s Sierra County, California was crawling with prospectors in search of gold. The northernmost region of California's mother load, dozens of mining camps, with such names as Poverty Hill, Queen City, Port Wine and Poker Flat, sprouted up as prospectors searched for the glittering rocks in the streams of the area. By the late 1850’s hydraulic mining began in the region which continued through the 1880’s. No doubt, during these affluent times, many a prospector and mine owner made their fortunes. But, they were not the only ones. Those storekeepers who catered to the miners’ needs also profited. One such man who gained wealth running his retail establishment was named Jerome Peyron. The storekeeper was known to have made frequent trips into the hills behind his store in Poker Flat where he buried his money.  However, when a Mexican Gang heard of Peyron’s hidden money, they converged upon his shop demanding to know its location. When the Peyron refused to tell them, he was murdered by the gang. To this day, Peyron’s buried cache has not been found.

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© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated June, 2008
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