Alonzo Delano – Grass Valley Champion & Gold Rush Correspondent

At age 43, after being sick with consumption, Alonzo Delano left his home and loved ones to join the mass of gold-seeking emigrants making the overland journey to California (1849). In Illinois, he sold bank stocks and commodities and lived with his wife and two children; Fred an invalid son of 16 and Harriet, a six-year-old daughter.  After surviving the …

Timbuctoo – Hydraulic Mining & First Land Use Limit Law

First published on April 30, 2018 Though Timbuctoo and Smartsville are in Yuba County, we are including them in our creek history because water from the Yuba River and Deer Creek watersheds flowed through them causing one of the first land use limit laws to be written in the country.   In the 1850s, Timbuctoo and Smartsville were centers of …

Land of Broken Promises – Nisenan Ground Zero

If you live in Lake Wildwood, Rough & Ready, Smartsville, Penn Valley, on Beale Air Force Base or off McCourtney or Lime Kiln Roads, you’re on ground zero for the Nisenan People of Nevada County, the land of broken promises. Long before houses and roads were built, this land was designated in a treaty between the local tribes and the United …

Grizzly Entertainment & California Bear Extinction

First published June 15, 2018 The largest and most powerful of bears, the California grizzly, thrived in New Spain when European explorers first set eyes on the land.  At their peak, approximately 10,000 grizzlies lived in California making the population one of the densest in the Pacific Northwest. “The grizzlies are the commonest kind of bear found in California, and are …

Mining Pollution Legacy and Clean-Up

First published May 21, 2017 In the mid-1850’s hydraulic mining filled the stream channels and muddied the waters all the way down to the Pacific Ocean. Mercury was used in sluice boxes to amalgamate gold. “It is estimated that ten million pounds of mercury were lost into the streams,” comments Kyle Leach, Geologist for Sierra Streams Institute. “The tale of the Gold Rush …

Exclusionist State Governor

First published March 13, 2017 Peter Hardeman Burnett: California’s First Governor Before securing his position as California’s first Governor (1849 – 1851), Burnett moved his family from Missouri to Oregon on a wagon train. “As a legislator in Oregon, Burnett proposed that all free blacks be forced to leave the state. Any who failed to leave were to be arrested …

Name History: Oustomah, Deer Creek Dry Diggings & Nevada City

First published May 30, 2018 Before the Gold Rush: The Nisenan people called the Nevada City area Oustomah. At one time, it was home to approximately 2,000 Indians. It was part of a network of villages along Deer Creek. August 1849: According to, California Place Name, Deer Creek was named by Isaac Wistar and Mr. Hunt after leaving a freshly-killed deer. Hostile Indians …

Miners Provisions – 1850 Food Prices

First published March 16, 2017 “InMarch, 1850, the snow was ten feet deep on the banks of Deer Creek – three times the depth it has ever since attained. Goods of all kinds sold at exorbitant rates.”- Nevada, Grass Valley & Rough and Ready Citizens Directory – 1856 – A. A. Sargent fresh beef & pork  – .80¢ / lb molasses – $7.50 / …

The Diary of a Forty-Niner – A Skillful Blending of Fact and Fiction

First published April 7, 2017   In the 1947 centennial edition of The Diary of a Forty-Niner published by James Ladd Delkin, Oscar Lewis, a California historian, researched the origins of the book. Below is his introduction along with his findings. ——— In the voluminous literature of the Gold Rush The Diary of a Forty-Niner has long occupied a position at once unique and puzzling. …