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The Chinese and the Gold Rush


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I used to work on a railroad and know of the history involving the Chinese.

As far as the Gold Rush, I haven't heard much more than, "The Chinese used to work in the mines, in Calif. and Nev".

There is evidence that I am working an area that the Chinese worked. There are piles of rocks 20' high, 40' across, and at least 60' long. No gravel in the piles, just rocks from 18" across to around 3'. These all came out of the stream, exposing a large area of bedrock. This has since been covered in gravels, rocks, and sand to about 2 1/2'. I'm sure they had a camp in the vacinity of the workings.

I'm kind of a history buff of the 1800's, specificly the western states.

I can't seem to find any detailed mining records from that era, and one article that only mentioned the Chinese. Can anyone point me to the who, what, when, where, how, and why? :huh:

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I used to work on a railroad and know of the history involving the Chinese.

As far as the Gold Rush, I haven't heard much more than, "The Chinese used to work in the mines, in Calif. and Nev".

There is evidence that I am working an area that the Chinese worked. There are piles of rocks 20' high, 40' across, and at least 60' long. No gravel in the piles, just rocks from 18" across to around 3'. These all came out of the stream, exposing a large area of bedrock. This has since been covered in gravels, rocks, and sand to about 2 1/2'. I'm sure they had a camp in the vacinity of the workings.

I'm kind of a history buff of the 1800's, specificly the western states.

I can't seem to find any detailed mining records from that era, and one article that only mentioned the Chinese. Can anyone point me to the who, what, when, where, how, and why? :huh:

Good morning Steel Pan,

I just Googled "gold rush Chinese miners" and a world of information came up.

As to the rock piles, I roamed around the old Placer mines in SW Oregon a bit. The rock piles are mind boggling. Just huge boulder-like rocks way up on top of BIG piles. According to local lore Chinese miners worked SW Oregon also. Were the Chinese responsible for boosting these rocks up there? More like an army of Paul Bunyans I think.

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I've done quite a search myself, but most of the info is redundant.

I'm trying to go deeper and find out where they were mining, not just in the more well known areas, like say Nevada City/Grass Valley area.

Before and after the railroad construction, were the Chinese out prospecting on their own? I've only heard that they did and were often robbed or killed. What of the other Chinese prospectors? Where did they search and by what methods?

How the heck did they pile up those rocks? I bet some of those babies would weigh in at 300lb. and better. First, how many guys to pick it up, and second, now they gotta pack it up this 20' high pile of 300lb. rocks. :hmmmmm:

They aparently succeded, there are at least 6 of these piles within' about 3/4 mile. I've figured out why, an' ah tells ya whut,...

Them there Chinamen were pretty damg smart. The surrounding area fits for the presence of gold deposits. ;)

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The big rocks were lifted by derricks. I've see a pic of one where the top of a pine tree was cut off and rigged with all the cables and arms. Pretty interesting.

A lot of that early gold rush history is undocumented. It wasn't till things got going that newspapers started up, and reported the various discoveries. Most history is lost in time...

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I have found some cable 1" and 1 1/2" thick. Very rusted. Not sure if it was from the Chinese or a later logging operation, although I don't see the tree stumps from logging.

A tree stump, 3 to 4 ft. across, can last scores of years.

The area around the rock piles has diversion stream trenches that no longer carry any water. It is in this area that I have found the cables. The main stream is flowing back in it's original channel.

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They used an ingenious device called a gin pole (just google that. It was very common for Chinese miner to move into abandoned gold fields and really work the bedrock and clean up what the original miners left. There were also many mining districts where they worked right along with all the other miners. Auburn area being one good example. Some placed treated them like animals and others were just fine.........

post-1252-0-15060100-1292730813_thumb.jp

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That gin pole thing is pretty clever. I suppose that this could be used in a hydraulic operation also to clear out the bigger river rocks. I only found one drift mine in the Oregon area that I knew fairly well. Looking up to the roof of this mine was gravel. I was thinking that seeing gravel above was odd. I'd rather be standing on it.

Bill C

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The derrick I saw was something like this, with the boom swinging side to side. The one Steve shows looks like it would drag the rocks up a pile rather than pick them up and swing them away. Maybe that was the preferred method? I'd imagine they had variations of these.

post-781-0-24081900-1292784000_thumb.jpg

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Wes... that is still a variation of the gin pole. In anycase you can be your bippy that they did not move those large boulders up the giant piles by hand!

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Chinamen took miners trash and leftovers and got rich doing the dirty wok for a cup a rice and a nice new shiny dime a day. If you see neat orderly piles stacked and polished clean--thank the chinamen in the bulk of cases. Tong wars amongst themselves and miner envy at their work ethetics proved their downfall though. They built American railroads and our very infrastructure for next to nothing and still prospered rightly so-John :thumbsupanim

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  • 2 months later...

There is not a lot of the kind of info you are looking for out there because the Chinese were looked down upon and seen as vermin,not worth spending the time to document.If you read enough though you can pick up tid bits here and there.For one thing there werent just in one place,they had to be nomadic,and follow behind,because if the Yanks thought they were getting something good they would run them off.As said they reworked ground that others thought was poor or worked out.They were smart patient,and enterprising though and could make pay.

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I'm pickin' up bits here and there and slowly putting the pieces together.

When you're doin' research you can never get all the info.

One thing leads to another, to another, to...... :spinnin:

Ya just go 'til you feel you can make the best deduction.

I find that I generally pick the subject back up again at a later date. :yuk-yuk:

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I used to work on a railroad and know of the history involving the Chinese.

As far as the Gold Rush, I haven't heard much more than, "The Chinese used to work in the mines, in Calif. and Nev".

There is evidence that I am working an area that the Chinese worked. There are piles of rocks 20' high, 40' across, and at least 60' long. No gravel in the piles, just rocks from 18" across to around 3'. These all came out of the stream, exposing a large area of bedrock. This has since been covered in gravels, rocks, and sand to about 2 1/2'. I'm sure they had a camp in the vacinity of the workings.

I'm kind of a history buff of the 1800's, specificly the western states.

I can't seem to find any detailed mining records from that era, and one article that only mentioned the Chinese. Can anyone point me to the who, what, when, where, how, and why? :huh:

I would suggest you get in touch with Chinese-American social organizations in California. They can hip you to reams and reams of micro-film records and oral histories. I did this once back in the 80s for an article I wrote. Just Google the clubs for contact info - Terry

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It's amazing these stacks are so well put together that they have lasted this long. Dave

When my Bud and I first found them, we walked around and around the pile puzzling over the whole situation. No small rocks either, 2 to 4ft across and stacked at least 25ft high, 50ft long and 35 ft wide. One guy tried to tell us a dozer pushed 'em up, but there isn't any dirt in the piles. Every rock is clean as a whistle and stacked, not piled.

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When my Bud and I first found them, we walked around and around the pile puzzling over the whole situation. No small rocks either, 2 to 4ft across and stacked at least 25ft high, 50ft long and 35 ft wide. One guy tried to tell us a dozer pushed 'em up, but there isn't any dirt in the piles. Every rock is clean as a whistle and stacked, not piled.

I would love to see a picture of that. Did you take any photos ?

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Sorry, no.

Will take some this next season. Snow way to do it right now.

Yeaa a picture would be cool to see . :thumbsupanim

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Extractor

These cobbles all came from underground workings at the back

of the picture the tail end of it was 20+ feet high looks

like they used some kind of device to wheel the cobbles

out to the end as you can see a depresion in the centre.....

Rodd

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  • 4 months later...

Just a mile or so North of the Gold Discovery Park in Coloma, CA there is a David Moore Area that has saved a large work area where the Chinese were given to work outside of Coloma during the Gold Rush. Large channels running down to the river. Very interesting walk on the trail that is about a mile long.

Metal detecting is allowed. No artifacts over 50 years old may be removed. Small mineral samples can be taken.

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