We were base camped over on the North Yuba River and drove over to this
area for a day of exploring, well we found that there's a lot more to see
here than it's possible to see in one day.
When exploring in the forest, it's not like the desert, roads shown on the
topos have become overgrown and don't exist anymore. Cabins, cemeteries,
and mines are hidden or lost in the forest, you can be right on top of
some cool site or ruins and not even see them. I was unable to find two
cemeteries shown on the topo, I had to give up due the loss of daylight.
This is one area that I would like to come back to and do some more
detailed exploring some day. We hit many town sites, but most did not seem
to have anything left except for the hydraulic mines and miles of
overgrown ditches that were used to deliver water to the mines.
The sites we visited include;
Shown on the map in 1853, placer mining petered out in 1851 and was
replaced with hydraulic mining which brought life back into the town.
Stories about the naming of the town include miners in the 1850's finding
a barrel of Port hidden in the bushes and another story tells of finding a
keg of cognac. Port Wine had a Wells Fargo station and a post office
between 1861 and 1865. According to the Alta in 1854; between
$30.00 to $100.00 was quite common per man per day. In 1863 a newspaper
reported that it was a sober and religious town with a strong Welsh presence.
Many hydraulic mines were also reported in the area.
In 1853 the Downieville Mountain Messenger reported "...The
town looks remarkably handsome. The stores, saloons and shops bear a neat
and clean apperance, which denotes characteristics of comfort and
cheerfullness among the population. The wide street, with its tall liberty
pole in the centre, looks fine....Owing to the short water season, the
mines have not paid as well as anticipated".
Shown on the map as a considerable mining community in 1867 and the
Golden Gate Tunnel is mentioned in Mining Press in 1861. I can't
find much else on this site, I did find overgrown water ditches here.
Shown on the map in 1867, with considerable hydraulic mining done
here in the 1870s. Site of the Pioneer Hydraulic Mine with it's 1500 foot
drainage tunnel can be found here also.
Shown on the map in 1857, and was known to have been a rich mining
camp. In 1853 San Francisco newspapers reported that the diggings were
rich and the camp had over 150 houses and a post office was established in
1855. In 1859 a 6000 foot tunnel was blasted into the hillside and the
majority of mining was done here by hydraulic mining. In 1868 there were
up to 12 hydraulic mining companies at work here.
Shown on the map in 1853. The town was said to have 500-600
inhabitants in 1858. The Mining Press in 1861 reported that
$6000.00 worth of gold was washed out from one tunnel in 8 hours and in
1879 it was reported that there was still some hydraulic mining going on
The town dates back to the 1850's and had several stores, saloons,
a theater, a brewery, a bakery, and a Wells Fargo station. In 1867 the Alta
reported the population to be around 1200 people and the total output
from the mines at that time was $3.5 million dollars! In 1854 a shaft was
sunk at the base of Table Mountain, where it struck a rich branch of the
famous Blue Lead. The town took off when the great Yuba River Canal was
completed around 1856.
In 1863 the Downieville Mountain Messenger reported "...
No care has been taken to keep the streets clean, and improve the looks
and convenience of the houses. Waterworks to secure the town against
fire... the scourge of our mining towns...have as in most other places,
The population dwindled around the turn of the century but Howland
Flat was still a small community until World War II.