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October 18, 2011

"Other" Mining in California

    Although California is well known for its gold mining, there was other mining in California besides gold, e.g., copper and silver. Copper was first discovered in the coastal mountains near San Diego in the 1750'sand in Ventura, San Palo and Santa Barbara in the 1790's. Copper was also worked in the Consumes copper mines in Fairplay and down to Tuolome and Coppropolis, and, copper minew down to Sheldon on the Consumes River. After the mines closed in Fairplay they opened around Mammoth in Inyo and Mono counties.

    The amount of gold and copper mined in California resulted in authorization and establishment of the San Francisco mint, coins were first minted in 1854, and copper coins followed in 1856. Gold was also being mined in South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and other "southern" states, but, due to the threat of civil war the federal government shipping to mints in Charlot and Georgia and New Orleans, and thus San Francisco mint became important, and in 1863 the Denver mint opened. In the 1980's copper from California and Nevada was used to produce half-pennies, pennies and two cent coins, also, copper from Arizona and Minnesota was sent to the San Francisco mint.

    Copper was deposited in California by the alluvial push 24,000 years ago and "nodules" would come up in gold pans. The Indians, e.g., the Miwoc, preferred copper to gold because it was not as heavy and used copper in decorations and weapons, so, copper has a 200+ year history in California and copper nodules can still be found in the Consumnes River.

    Turquoise is a suborder of copper, likewise, azure and azurite, also suborders of copper; azurite is still mined in California today (notice the green specs of azurite in Comet clenser).

    DIAMONDS... there are diamonds in California: the Star of California, a 42 carat diamond now in the Smithsonian Museum, the Serin Dipity, the Double Dipity and the Panther from Dunsmire, also some by Oroville, and also here as a result of the alluvial push from 24,000 years ago.

Reported by,

Brother Don "Peanut Butter" Breeland, well known Historian Extraordinaire