by Thompson & West, 1879, with illustrations

Chapter XXXIII - Slate Range Township  - Transcribed by Deanna Davis batfan4ver@yahoo.com - October 30, 2003

 This large township, in the extreme eastern portion of the county, lies amid the beautiful hills of the Sierras. It is well watered by numerous winding creeks, the largest of which are Willow, Mill, Clear, Beaver, Oregon, and Mosquito. Snow lies in some places the whole year through, and in the winter season covers the hills to a great depth, furnishing, as it melts in the spring and summer, a never-failing supply of water for the use of the miner and husbandman. Although in the numerous small valleys considerable farming is done, the chief occupation\n has always been mining. Many rich placer, quartz and gravel mines have been discovered, and the gravel mines being worked at present around Camptonville are of the great richness and are leading industry of the region. The township received its name from a large bed of slate formation in its northern part. The soil in the little valleys is quite fertile. When the Court of Sessions subdivided the county into fifteen townships, August 24, 1850, this section was included in the town of Foster, there being no town of the present name formed. The next division, made August 7, 1851, after the formation of Nevada County, was into eleven townships, the western half of this being in Oak Valley, and the eastern in Goodyear’s Bar Township. When Sierra County was taken from Yuba, the court again, Oct 7, 1852, divided the county into ten townships. This time the Slate Range was formed, and included all the present township, except the southwest corner, which was in Foster Bar. It also included all of the present North East Township, lying east of Slate creek. The Board of Supervisors again subdivided the county, October 10, 1856, giving to Slate Range all the territory included between the north and middle forks of the Yuba River, and the Sierra county line. August 14, 1858, the line from the mouth of Willow creek to the mouth of Middle Yuba, was changed to a straight line. May 13, 1867, the strip between the Yuba River and the line from Mill creek to a point one thousand feet below the mouth of Oregon creek, was cut off and given to Foster Bar Township.

 The present boundaries are:- Commencing where the North Yuba intersects the Sierra county line; thence south on said line to Middle Yuba river; thence down said stream to a point one thousand feet below the mouth of Oregon creek thence in a straight line to a point six hundred feet above the mouth of Mill creek; thence down said creek to North Yuba river thence up said stream to the place of beginning.


  This thriving mountain town is situated on the southeast one-half of section two, township 18 N., R. eight E., and covers one hundred and fifty-nine acres of ground. The old trail to Downieville led through this place, and as early as 1851, and perhaps 1850, J.M. & J. Campbell built a small mountain hotel here, called the Nevada House. Early in the spring of 1852, a company from Nevada, Sam. Whitesides, J. Compton, Wm. Cowan, Wm. R. Dixon, Hiram Buster, Chas. O’Hara, and Jeff. Van Metre came here prospecting, and at the instance of Whitesides a shaft was sunk on and gold struck in paying quantities. This was the opening of the rich hill diggings through this region. The hill was named Gold Ridge. In 1852, there was a log cabin belonging to a man who had built a little ditch for the purpose of irrigating his potato patch. The Campbell Brothers built a store in 1852, which was put under the charge of Mr. Fuller. In the spring of 1853, the place had grown to considerable size, and a large number of miners commenced work on Gold Ridge, which extended several miles. The Campbell Brothers built that year a large three-story hotel, the finest by far in the town. It was called the National Hotel. In 1861, or 1862, the ground on which it was built was sold for mining purposes and the building torn down. Ed. Brooks built a store in 1853, and in 1856 erected a large brick building, at a cost of twelve thousand dollars. J.R. Meek has owned the property since 1866. The Masonic Hall is located in the second story of this building. In 1853, the Van Metre and Arcade saloons were built. Over the latter was a hall for dancing and entertainments. Miss Goodwin gave a dramatic entertainment in this hall in October, 1854, the first in the town. A bowling alley was built in 1853 by William Green. The alley was made from one-half of a tree trunk, cut by a whipsaw. Robert Campton came in early 1853 or 1853, and opened a blacksmith shop. He was a general favorite, and in 1854 the town was named Camptonville, in honor of the sturdy artisan.

 At a miners’ meeting, held in the bowling alley in the spring of 1854, it was decided that mining claims should be 75x75 feet, and town lots 75x150 feet. In the fall of 1854, the wagon road was finished to Camptonville, and in 1855, the California Stage Company commenced to run stages to the town. Previous to this, pack trains were the only means of transportation. Isaac Green started an opposition line, and finally compelled the other to abandon the route. When the road was completed to Downieville, the stage ran also to that city. Warren Green succeeded his brother in the stage business. In 1855, the town had become a place of considerable importance, the population was over three hundred, and in the voting precinct there were six hundred people. There were four hundred votes cast that year. There were four stores for mining supplies, one clothing store, four hotels, two livery stables, one brewery, two large and  a number of small saloons, two blacksmith shops, one tin shop, one bowling alley, post office, and express office.

 Elder Jones settled in the town in 1854 and held the first religious services in the school-room. There was no regular church organization. Elder Jones departed in 1857, and the same year Elder Seymour came and held regular services in the school house for two years. From this date there were occasional services, but no resident minister until 1873, when Rev. Joshua Beven, a Baptist clergyman, began preaching in Good Templars’ Hall. He moved away in 1876, and another minister of the same denomination, Rev. M.D. Gage, Principal of the School, held services every Sunday in the same hall. In 1857, Elder Seymour instituted a Sunday school with about twenty scholars, of which he was Superintendent. The school now has from sixty to seventy scholars, and is presided over by Rev. M. D. Gage. The first school in Camptonville was a private one in 1854, taught by Mrs. A. Brooks, at her residence. The same year a public school was opened, where the drug store now stands. Miss Budden, who still resides in town, was the teacher. In 1852, the Gold Ridge Ditch Company was formed. The company brought water in a ditch from Oregon creek to Gold Ridge mining district. The owners of the ditch were N. A. Watson, Jos. Demars, Bennet Demars, Wm. Wagner, Jas. Graham, Aaron Calvin, and Geo. Myers. For the first six months they charged fifty cents an inch for water, then reduced to twenty-five cents for the next two years. It was then reduced fifty per cent which price remained fixed. The great gravel mines were opened in 1857 by the Camptonville Ravine Tunnel Company. This company was composed of William Elwell, Charles Twig, J. H. Verril, Ellis Elwell and three others. After many trials a tunnel some two hundred feet long was run into the hill, and the rich gravel beds opened up. The hydraulic mining process has since that time been used here on a large scale.

Camptonville Water Company

 The necessity of having good water in Camptonville was early recognized by Sanford Hall, and in 1857 he undertook the task of supplying it. From a large spring, two and a half miles east of the town, he constructed a flume, through which water was brought to a reservoir within the town limits. This reservoir had a capacity of twelve thousand gallons and was built of plank, at a cost of two hundred dollars. Another flume ran from the reservoir over the tops of the houses, from which water was drawn off in supply pipes for use by the citizens. In 1858, he laid down seven hundred feet of four inch pipe, at a cost of fifteen hundred dollars. In 1859, he sold the property to J. D. Andrews. In 1860, Everett, McClellan & Elwell built a flume from a spring in Oregon creek, two and three-fourths miles distant, and brought water into two reservoirs, 16x24 feet in size and ten feet deep. They laid twelve hundred feet of six inch main pipe in the town and eight hundred feet of supply pipe. They also furnished four fire plugs. These improvements cost six thousand five hundred dollars. In 1861, these gentlemen bought out Andrews, and consolidated the water business. The property is all owned at the present time by J. P. Brown.

Yuba Light Infantry

 Company E, First Battalion, Fourth Brigade N. G. C. was organized November 7, 1863, with eighty members, thirty of whom are still in the company. The first officers were: J.P. Brown, Captain; J. G. McClellan, First Lieutenant; S. W. Wardner, Second Lieutenant; Charles Fray, Junior Second Lieutenant. The company is supplied with the regulation Springfield breech-loading muskets. The regular drills are held the second Saturday evening of each month. The company has a strength of seventy-two men, and is commanded by J. P. Brown, Captain; J. G. McClellan, First Lieutenant; J. H. Fuller, Second Lieutenant. Mr. Brown is the senior Captain in the State, holding the oldest commission. The building in which was the old armory was built for a shingle manufactory, by O. P. Brown. In 1862, it was bought by J. H. Berrill for a carpenter shop. In 1863, the building was rented by the company, and in 1864 they purchased it at a cost of four hundred and fifty dollars, which was raised by subscription by the members. In the same year they enlarged it, and it was used both as an armory and a hall for dancing. In 1877, they built a new armory on the old site, size 26x92 feet at a cost of twenty –five hundred dollars. It was fitted up also for a dancing hall and theater. The military give two grand balls each year in the armory, in May and September. The first troupe that played on the new armory stage was the “Wilbur & Mills’ Minstrel Troupe,” in the spring of 1877. The company have a military band of nine pieces that was organized in 1878 as the Camptonville Brass Band. The company bought the instruments and the musicians enlisted and were then formed into a military band. They also have a target ranged on the bedrock near the town. The company was the outgrowth of a Union League Club organized in 1863, which was formed to counteract an organization of the Knights of the Golden Circle, said to exist at that time in the county.

Gravel Range Lodge, No. 59, F. and A.M.

 This lodge was organized May 4, 1855, by J.R. Vance, C.a. Twigg, J.A. Dunn, J.W. Sterritt, P. Zimmerman, J. M. Gillespie, W. G. Lockwood, W. Stevenson, L. J. Bowlsby, J. Crawford, and W.G. Graham. The first officers were: - J. M. Winn, W. M.; J. Gillespie, S.W. J. A. Dunn, J. W.; J. Crawford, Secretary. The membership of the lodge, once sixty-two, is now fifty-five. Regular meetings are held the Monday on or preceding the full moon.

Layette Chapters, No. 24, R. A. M.

 The chapter was organized May 6,1859, with the following charter members:-P. McNulty, H.P.; W. H. Foye, K.; J. P. Brown, S.; S. Alexander, T.; E. T. Peck, S.; H. S. Everett, B. B. Troxel, J. G. McClellan, J. W. Sterritt, A. Moore, and W. J. Ford. The chapter has a membership of twenty-five, and at one time had thirty-two. The regular meetings are held on Wednesday preceding the full moon. The present officers are:- R. Munt, H.P.; C. F. Mansur, K.; J.G. McClellan, S.; J.P. Brown, T.; A.G. Miller, S.; O.N. Marrow, C. of H.; S. S. Baker, P.S.; N. C. McMurray, R.A.C.; W. A. Meek, M. 3d V.; D. Calvin, M. 2d V.; J. H. Fuller, M. 1st V.; Peter Russell, Guard. The chapter has had a prosperous existence of twenty years, and has but two of the old charter members still in its ranks, J. P. Brown and J. G. McClellan.

 The Masons have a fraternal cemetery near the city, and adjoining it is the city cemetery.

 There is but little mining done now in the immediate vicinity of Camptonville. The most extensive operations are now carried on at Weed’s Point, three miles distant. There is, however, business enough to support quite a thriving town of some two hundred and sixty inhabitants. There are two hotels, one grocery store, two dry goods stores, two clothing stores, one drug store, one stationery and variety store, two saloons, one livery stable, two blacksmith shops, three carpenter shops, one bakery and confectionery, one meat market, two shoemaker shops, one hardware store and tin shop, one bank, express office, telegraph office, post office, one school house, one armory, two halls, one church, and forty-nine dwelling houses. In 1855, the voting places were at Oak Valley, Young’s Hill, Galena Hill, Railroad Hill, Camptonville, Garden Valley and Freeman’s Crossing; now the voting is all done at Camptonville.

Ferry Bar

  Work was commenced here in 1879. The bar is opposite to, and about midway between Foster Bar and Bullard’s Bar. John Sampson and J. M. Ramirez brought a company of Chilians to the bar in the fall of 1849.  In November of that year some miners at Foster Bar became exasperated because the Chilians, who were experienced miners, could make better wages than they. Therefore, they raised a company of about sixty men, many of whom could not even speak English, and drove these interloping “foreigners” from their work. They were soon back, however, and protected by men who could both speak and shoot in the English language. One hundred and twenty-five men were once at work here, but it is now deserted. James Flood, the Bonanza king, commenced in mining career at this bar.

Garden Valley Ranch

 David Scott and two others settled in Garden Valley of Willow creek, in 185. The next year they sold to the Atchison Brothers, who kept a hotel called the Garden Valley ranch. It was on the trail from the lower country to Downieville. In 1854, the Atchison Brothers cut a road from Foster Bar to Garden Valley, and then to Camptonville. In 1857, the Nevada Mining Company commenced working in the valley, and it is now nearly exhausted, a few Chinamen only, working the ground shares. The Nevada Mining Company built a saw-mill on Willow creek in 1869, which they are still operating. John Clay settled near Garden Valley ranch, on the west side of the creek, in 1853. That year he raised potatoes, paying twenty-two dollars per pound for seed, and selling his crop for ten cents per pound. He built a house, and brought his family here, in 1854. In 1855, he set out some fruit trees, a proceeding considered very foolish by his neighbors, who had but little confidence in the permanency of the population in that region. He has a fine orchard now, and raises great quantities of excellent fruit. In 1855, John Clay and John Atchison built a school house near Willow creek, and engaged Miss Lord, now Mrs. Judge Wells, of Nevada, as teacher. There were seven scholars in attendance. In 1852, the school was moved nearer the river. In 1856, a Methodist minister held regular services in the school house. This little valley is now nearly destroyed by the mining debris. Twelve years ago Mr. Clay built dams across two ravines, and the ponds thus made are now stocked fine trout.

Wisconsin House

 This hotel, two and one half miles southwest of Camptonville, was first kept in 1849. In 1853, it came into the possession of a Mr. Brown. It burned down, and Brown built another. When the Junction House was opened this place ceased to be kept as a hotel.

Junction House

 In 1850, a man named Bogardus settled between the Wisconsin House and Camptonville. He kept a store there, and after Camptonville was settled he converted it into a hotel, and called it the Junction House. In 1851, Moses Eastman took the hotel. A large business was done until the road was changed to run a mile north, when it ceased to be a public house. After the road was moved back to its old route, business was revived and the place was again kept as a hotel. The present proprietor is Mr. Jones.

Dad’s Gulch

 This gulch received its name from Mr. Parsons, familiarly called “Dad” who discovered it in 1851. It is situated about three miles west of Oak Valley. The diggings were very rich, and although the dirt had to be carried some distance to find water, paid the miners well. The greatest number at work here was fifty. The gulch is till being mined by about a dozen men.

Freeman’s Crossing

 A ferry was established on Middle Yuba, near Oregon creek, in 1850, by Matthew Sparks. The place was then called Nye’s Crossing. Thomas Hess built a bridge here in 1851, which was carried away by the flood that winter. He built another in 1852. Thomas Freeman purchased the bridge in 1854, and the place was afterwards called Freeman’s Crossing. He built a more substantial structure in 1855. This was destroyed in December, 1861, and he commenced the construction of a new one at the present location, which was carried away by the freshet in January, 1862, before its completion. The present bridge was built the same year, and is forty miles from Marysville, via San Juan. Gold mining commenced in 1851, and about seventy-five miners worked here in the early days. Freeman built a hotel there in 1853. In 1863, he erected a large building which is now used for a residence and hotel by him. Freeman also built a bridge across Oregon creek in 1858, and in 1871 another, a little above the first, at a cost of twenty-five hundred dollars. The original bridge was washed away subsequent to the construction of the new one.

Galena Hill

 Gold was found on this hill, about two miles north of Camptonville, in 1852. The discoverers were from Galena, Illinois, and named the hill after their Eastern home. The hills was very easy to work, and it is claimed that for this reason more money was made here than at any of the other hill diggings. In 1856, there were a hotel, two stores and two saloons, while about one hundred miners were at work. A large portion of the hill was worked by hydraulic power. At present there is no store or business place here, and only a dozen miners at work.

Young’s Hill

 This hill lies three miles north of Camptonville, and was first worked in 1852 by William Young and his brother, from whom it derived its name. The first store was kept by Briggs Brothers, and the next, in 1855, by Charles E. De Long and George King. In 1856, there were three hotels, four saloons, three stores, two blacksmith shops, two butcher shops, two dry-goods stores, and a theater, in which amateur home talent delighted the toiling miner. That year they polled four hundred and sixty-four votes. There are now two families and several single men, but no store or hotel.

Railroad Hill

 Gold was first discovered in 1852 on this hill, on the east side of the creek, two miles south of Oak Valley. It received its name from the first iron rail used to convey dirt in the mines. The population in the height of its prosperity was one hundred. There were two stores, a saloon, and a boarding house. There is no town here now, and only eight or ten people at work.

Moonshine Creek

 Gold was struck in 1853 by Jerry Billings, Anderson, Ferguson, and one other. They found it very rich and when “cleaning up” the “long toms” would always station a man on the hill, to give them a signal if any one approached in that direction; they then would shovel into the rocker and cover up the gold. By this means they kept it secret for some time; but one evening, they became so interested in cleaning up that the picket was not posted, and while they were feasting their eyes on the gold in the pan a visitor came up. This put an end to the secret and a number of miners came to Moonshine and posted their notices on the claims. The place was soon worked out.

Oak Valley

 This little mining town is situated on the head waters of Oak Valley Creek, two miles from North Yuba River, and six miles northeast from Camptonville. It received its name on account of oak timber growing in the vicinity. Gold was discovered here about the same time as at the other diggings, and quite a town sprang up. In 1855, there were one hundred men here, a store, saloon, restaurant, hotel, etc. For ten years the town thrived and then went down as did most of the other places. There are about twenty men at work now, and a store and saloon combined kept by a Frenchman.

Celestial Valley

 This locality, on Oregon Creek, two miles from Middle Yuba, was so named because of the number of Chinamen here. At one time there were thirty or forty men here and one hotel. At present half that number are engaged in mining and farming.

Slate Range

 About three miles northwest of Oak Valley is the little town of Slate Range, the center of quite an expanse of mining country. There were in its palmy days a hotel, store, saloon, etc., and in the vicinity quite a number of mines. There is no mining her now, but the hotel is kept running by William Quayle, who came here in 1850.

Pittsburg Hill

In the spring of 1855, George Martin, Thomas Burke (afterwards handed in Nevada), Rooney, William Bristow, Jack Smith, A. G. Miller and one other, while hunting one mile back from the river discovered these very rich diggings. The hill is considered exceedingly rich, and is being worked quite extensively at the present time.

 There were besides these a great many hills, gulches and bars all through the township, such as Grizzly Gulch, on Oregon creek, opened in 1853, High Point, south of Camptonville, discovered in 1852 by George Sanders and Mr. McNulty, Dempster Gulch, Wilson Gulch, Jerry Slide, once had thirty miners, now about eight, Indian Bar, and a great many that had no names, or whose appellations have been forgotten and their location now unknown.

Weed’s Point

 Work was commenced here, three miles above Camptonville on Horse Valley Creek, in 1853, but abandoned on account of the difficulty of working it. The place derived its name from a miner named Weed. In 1865, work was resumed and has been continuous ever since. The Weed Point mine consists of twenty feet of sand, fine gravel and pipe clay, forty feet of coarse gravel, pope clay and sand, ten feet of boulders, gravel, sand and clay to the bed rock. The mine is rich, especially the last ten feet. The blasting is done in the summer, when eight or ten men are employed. In the winter, only five men are at work. The company has its own water, and makes a clean up four or five times a year. Petrifactions of oak and madrone and impressions of leaves are found in the clay. At one time there were a store, saloon, hotel, etc., at this place, but they have all been abandoned. There are thirty men here at present.

 The Atchison Brothers first located the ranch now owned by John Ramm. They were public spirited men, building roads and bridges all through this region. D. O. Adkison worked the ranch on shares and afterwards took charge of the dairy, peddling milk in the mines. There is but one quartz ledge being worked in the township, the Honeycomb. The owners are preparing to erect a stamp mill. Frequent fires in the forest call out the all population to save their homes and property from destruction.

Saw Mills

 Jones’ Mill in Camptonville was built in 1853, and was the first mill in the township. Since moved away.

 Campbell Mill was built by M. Campbell in 1854; sold to Hall & Fairbanks in 1855. In 1858, they sold to J. D. Andrews who ran it until it was abandoned.

 Weed’s Point Mill was built by Muntz in 1855. It was sold by him to his son-in-law in 1866, and has since been abandoned.

 Oak Valley Mill was built in 1852 for a quartz mill but was never completed. In 1853, Mr. Paul changed it into a saw mill. It is being run at present by James Gray, employing four or five men.

 Moonshine Mill is now owned by Mr. Trombly, employing several men.


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