Situated on a ridge between the Bear River and the North Fork of the American River, Gold Run
is an excellent example of early hydraulic mining. While the gravels of Gold Run Canyon were
discovered in the spring of 1850, the riches they held were not to be exploited for several more
O. W. Hollenbeck arrived in the region in 1854 and established a camp he called Mountain
Springs. The town came into its own in the late 1850ís when hydraulic mining began in earnest on
the vast bed of auriferous blue gravel that ran through the region. Two miles long, half a mile
wide, and 250 feet deep, the bed was pay dirt all the way down, a vast fortune of gold. And all
that was needed to get the gold was water.
With prospects like this, it didnít take long for the mining companies to assure a continued
supply of water for their operations. Five water ditches passed through town, bringing in water
from as far away as the South Fork of the Yuba River. The huge monitors shot streams of water
under terrible pressure into the hills, washing the gold-bearing gravels into long flumes which
caught the gold and then dumped the debris back into the river.
The Mountain Springs post office was established back in 1854, but in 1863 the name of the
town and the post office were changed to Gold Run. It had become an important mining center and
flourished well into the 1860ís and 1870ís, long after most gold towns had faded away. In fact,
the town continued to prosper until 1884, when hydraulic mining was outlawed. It is estimated
that up to that point over eighty million cubic yards of gravel were hydraulically mined in the
region, which produced in excess of $15 million in gold. The scars left by those operations are
still visible today, although the forests and one hundred years respite from mining have hidden
much of the damage.
Visit Gold Run's Historic Sites