Spanish Dry Diggings


The History of El Dorado County, California by P. Sioli, pages 184-185

Is situated in the northern part of El Dorado county, on the summit of the hill above the Middle Fork of the American river, five miles from Georgetown, four miles from Greenwood, Spanish Bar, El Dorado Slide, Dutch Bar, Rocky Chucky Canyon Creek and other noted localities of early mining days are within a short distance.

In 1848, Don Andreas Pico, brother of ex-Governor Pio Pico, organized a company of Mexican miners, chiefly Sonorians, for the purpose of a prospecting tour through the Sierras, to test the extent of Marshall's discovery of gold. The company thus organized under the leadership of Don Andreas, proceeded north to the Yuba river, and from thence south to the Stanislaus, traversing and superficially prospecting all the since celebrated mineral belt known to the world as California's richest placer diggings.

In the course of his trip Don Andreas passed through what is known as Spanish Dry Diggings. Resting a short time here, the most experienced of his men, detailed for prospecting, were at work in the ravines, obtained rich prospects in coarse gold of a quartz nature.

In 1849, the report of Don Andreas having become generally known among the Mexicans, others of that nationality became in many instances the pioneers in mining settlements. Thus it was here, the first settlers of Spanish-American origin. Soon after came Americans, Germans and others. The name of the first trading-post, or permanent settlement was Dutchtown, after which the name of the village was changed to correspond with that by which the mines in the vicinity were known, and thus came the name of Spanish Dry Diggings.

In 1854, the first quartz-seam diggings were discovered here, which has since resulted in the development and working of many valuable mines, the most celebrated of which are the Grit, Barr, Short Handle, Cherry Hill, Summit, Davis, Taylor, and others of less note. The amount of gold taken from these claims has been very large, the best authority of the place estimating the Grit and Barr claims alone to have yielded $500,000 and $300,000 respectively.*

Aside from these seem diggings there is the celebrated Sliger quartz claim, a true and well-defined quartz lode, owned and worked by Messrs. Hunter, Wade, Roush, Simpers, Hines and Grinnell; a claim, undoubtedly among the best in the county if not in the State. The owners are content to themselves, quietly working their claim without the aid of outside capital, which fact of itself is the best recommendation. About one mile north of the Sliger mine, and on the same lode is the claim of Messrs. Hines & Co., worked continuously and profitably.

Among the earliest and best known citizens are Messrs. W. R. Davis, John Hines and T.M. Buckner '49ers. Messrs. G. W. Hunter, G. W. Simpers, A. Rooke, James K. Easterbrrok, Trueworthy Durgan and Andrew Deller still reside here. The present population approximates about a hundred souls, living in comfortable residences with beautiful surroundings which will stand comparison with any one of the sister mining towns in the county. The town comprises now only one store; the first store in town was kept by Folger, now of San Francisco, about a quarter of a mile below where the present store stands, and also a good school house.

* In these diggings the proceeds were almost all profits. O. B. Powell of Quincy, Illinois, in one day in October, 1854, together with his partner M. Orr, took out 26 pounds of gold. In November 1854, in eleven days, 110 pounds of gold were taken out of what was known as the Kelsey claim by W. D. Vincent, A. Barth, M. Orr, O. Powell, S. Searles, D. Ellis, S.P. Nye and John E. Stover. Mr. Crawford says he has seen it to be carried out by water pailsfull. Also, large nuggets have been found occasionally, the largest one was of 16 pounds weight.

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