Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert
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Mojave Desert History - Pioneer of the Mojave
Part-time Prospector

Gold Discovered in San Bernardino County

Gold originally was discovered in the San Bernardino County area just a few months after Marshall's famous discovery at Coloma in January of 1848. San Bernardino pioneer Sheldon Stoddard, who was one of the first to locate gold on the Mojave Desert, found several flakes of the mineral along the banks of the Amargosa River at the foot of the Avawatz Mountains -- and this before California was even admitted as a state.

The first discovery to be developed into a mine was at Salt Spring on the old Spanish Trail. This find initially was made during the winter of 1849-50 by a group of immigrants led by Jefferson Hunt, and within a few months mining interests moved in and began excavation.

Both Stoddard and Hunt belonged to the Mormon Church, many of whose members, in fact, were early miners in the Mother Lode country. Some of these miners were in California by virtue of having joined the U. S. Army in a unit that became known as the Mormon Battalion, which was sent overland to California during the Mexican War.

When the Mormons settled San Bernardino in 1851, many experienced gold miners were among them, and some of these took advantage of opportunities to prospect. Included in those to seize such an opportunity were Theodore Turley and Mormon Battalion veteran James Clift, who, along with two others, located a lead and silver mine, vaguely described as being "East of Mount San Bernardino, near the border of the desert." The partners sold the mine in the summer of 1857 to a syndicate known as the Mohan Silver Mining Company for $1,000 plus a percentage of the stock certificates to be issued by the company.

It was soon after this that the call came for the Mormons to return to Utah. Of those who remained in San Bernardino, many would take up the pick and shovel. When the gold rush to Bear Valley began in 1859, followed by Holcomb Valley the next year, Mormons and non-Mormons alike made up the eager crowds.

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ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - glossary
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