Quincy, a community of great historic significance, is home to over 5000 residents. Tucked in the central Plumas County, towards the northern tip of the California Mother Lode, it is one of the richest gold mining regions in the entire world.
The town was founded back in 1854, shortly after gold was discovered in Elizabethtown for the first time. Earlier, gold discoveries were made along the American River, but 1852 marked the first discoveries in the region, which attracted thousands of miners to the area, who later founded Elizabethtown.
However, by mid-1850s, majority of the gold reserves in the region begin to grow extinct, which encouraged miners to examine the surrounding regions. Soon, the American Valley emerged as the richest region for mining gold deposits, and the miners of Elizabethtown travelled to the south. This is how the town of Quincy was born.
Early Gold Mining in Quincy
Gold mining was the drive behind the town of Quincy, as the first settlers of the town were miners and the town enjoyed great support by the establishment of the Plumas County. Quincy earned its name from Hugh J. Bradley’s request, an early settler who offered to give up his American ranch to set up a county seat town. In exchange, he wanted the new town to be named Quincy after his hometown of the same name in Illinois.
Hence, the town of Quincy was born, and it emerged as the county seat of Plumas County. When the town was established, miners from the nearby regions left behind their mining camps and relocated to Quincy to be a part of its thriving epicenter of mining.
During the early 1850s, Quincy emerged as a powerful and vibrant gold mining community, and in the beginning, the town was dominated by small scale mining activities by individual miners. The North Fork and Middle Forks of the Feather River
was claimed up fast and they were exceptionally rich.
As more miners moved in and explored the surrounding area, it was quickly evident that placer gold could be found just about any creek surrounding Quincy. Spanish Creek, just north of Quincy, is another very rich drainage. Countless small tributaries that feed into it and the forks of the Feather River are all auriferous.
The river placers were easiest to work, but miners soon noticed that gravels sitting high above the existing rivers also contained gold, sometimes just as rich as in the rivers and creeks themselves. These bench deposits
were from ancient rivers dating back to the tertiary period. To establish mines and work these gravels effectively, bigger equipment and advanced planning was needed.
Large Mining Companies Move In
As the gold deposits began to deplete, large mining firms made multiple claims, and this paved the way towards large scale, hydraulic gold mining
on the many tertiary deposits in this area.
The period between 1855 and 1871 is recognized as the most productive age of gold mining, and it led to the production of more than 2.9 million ounces of gold in the Plumas County. During the years 1880 and 1959, more than 1.6 million ounces of gold were produced by the County.
As the First World War came to an end, the mining activities slow down and a small number of mines operated with small scale activity. Towards the 1880s, Lode production emerged as a prominent method, and the mining efforts in the region intensified once copper was discovered.
Quincy boosts a dynamic geological composition that promotes mining and explorative ventures, and to this day, it continues to remain a prominent mining site. After the town of Quincy was established, the gold mining ventures allowed the surrounding areas to prosper and accumulate wealth. The mining reserves also encouraged the Chinese miners to relocate, and during the 1800s, Chinese made a significant portion of the town’s population.
An Established Mining Town
The burgeoning popularity and productivity of the gold mining industry led to the construction of infrastructure, road and communication networks that allowed the town to remain connected with other parts of the globe.
In 1910, Quincy welcomed the advent of the Western Pacific Railroad, which aided in boosting the production capacity of hydraulic mines, as the rail network made the transportation of ore and processed gold much easier.
During the 1900s, copper mining had also emerged as a prominent industry in the town of Quincy, which aided the town and its surrounding areas to expand their economic activity and accumulate greater wealth.
At the start of the First World War, mining in Quincy witnessed a decline, which continued until the 1920s. Miners began relocating other areas, and the gold and copper mines began to close down.
Is There Still Gold in Quincy?
Present-day Quincy is a vibrant and lively community, home to more than 5000 residents. The town has witnessed a striking pace of modern development; however, mining continues to be a significant part of its economic activity.
Even though the mining activities are nowhere comparable to the capacity of production witnessed during the early days, it continues to be prevalent.
Successful miners in the Quincy region deploy high-bankers or sluice boxes
to mine their way through the creek gravels and old tertiary channels in their quest for placer gold.
Another popular method of discovering gold in the region is metal detecting. Many miners have discovered some unusually large nuggets of golds near the old hydraulic pits, and the use of metal detectors
has made the discovery all the easier.
The fascinating mining town of Quincy has a great deal to offer to travelers, miners and explorers, and residents hope that mining should continue to form a significant part of the industry in the future.Next: 10 Free Gold Panning Sites in California