The brothers Miles and Andrew Goodyear, along with a Dr. Vaughan and a Mr. Morrison,
prospected here in the summer of 1849 and found gold enough for their liking to settle down at
this crossing of the Yuba River. The Goodyear boys built a sturdy cabin and before long the rich
deposits attracted a number of miners to their camp, which was given the name Goodyears Bar in
honor of its founders.
Miles Goodyear, a native of Connecticut, had come west with a missionary party led by Dr.
Marcus Whitman who was on his way to establish a mission along the Columbia River. After a
falling out with the good doctor, Miles headed off into the wilderness and eventually settled
down in Utah Territory, building a cabin of cottonwood logs in either 1844 or ’45 on the site of
the future town of Ogden. When the Mormons arrived a couple of years later, Miles left and joined
his brother in California and began prospecting. Shortly after settling down at Goodyears Bar,
Miles took ill, and after lingering on for a few months, died on November 12 of 1849. Andrew
wrapped his brother in a buffalo robe and buried him in an old rocker on a point opposite the
bar, where he remained until his brother took his bones to Benicia, his final resting place.
Goodyears Creek was incredibly rich along its entire length, having been literally fed gold
for thousands of years as it chewed through gold-bearing ledges and the beds of ancient rivers
and streams. At one spot near the upper end of the bar, a group of men cleaned up $2,000 in gold
from a single wheelbarrow of dirt. Finds such as this spurred the miners to prospect every bar on
the river, resulting in some of the most interesting named camps in the Gold Country. Cut-Throat
Bar, so named because a sick German cut his own throat there. Hoodoo Bar, named for the peculiar
manner in which the local Indians said “How-dye-do.” Nigger Slide, St. Joe’s Bar, and Ranty
Doodler Bar (spelled variously as ‘Rantedottler,’ ‘Rantedodler,’ ‘Rantedottler,’ and ‘Ranse
Doddler’) were all rich camps in the vicinity.
The camp suffered great hardships during the winter of 1849/50 as snowfalls came earlier and
in greater depths than usual. Food became terribly scarce as supply trains could no longer reach
the town. When parties from the outlying camps came in with the hopes of purchasing supplies,
they found what little there was to buy—food, tools, or blankets—sold for the same price: $4 a
pound. Many left for lower ground to wait out the winter. Some of those who remained were forced
to dine on beef bones from a dead animal found lying on the bar before supplies finally arrived.
Good fortune returned to the bar with the arrival of spring. In fact, the area grew so
rapidly between the years of 1850 and 1852 that the claims staked along the Yuba, Goodyears
Creek, Woodruff and Rock creeks formed an unbroken chain which rivaled Downieville in importance.
Goodyears Bar had all the trappings of civilization; express office, saloons, stores, hotels,
bakeries, restaurants, churches, and many cabins and dwellings. The post office was established
on October 7 of 1851, with Mr. Woodruff as the first Postmaster and by 1852 the camp polled more
than six hundred votes. Mining was being carried on extensively, mostly with flumes erected to
divert the waters of the Yuba so the rich bed could be worked thoroughly.
The town’s first school was a private one begun in 1856 with a Mrs. Massey as the first
teacher. The money needed for the erection of the schoolhouse and for the teacher’s salary came
from donations made by the townsfolk. If additional monies were needed for books or furnishings,
a fund raiser would be held, generally raising the amount needed.
With a good number of kids in town, it’s no wonder there were also a bunch of dogs. In fact,
there were apparently too many dogs at one time, for early in the town’s history the following
notice was posted:
Nothing much from the mining days remains in Goodyears Bar, but the beautiful setting of this
historic gold camp more than makes up for any lack of Gold Rush remains. Situated at an elevation
of 2,700 feet, the town rests on a small flat on the south side of the Yuba River, almost upon
the abandoned diggings themselves. Towering mountains surround the old river camp—Saddle Back,
Monte Cristo, Fur Cap, Grizzly Peak, and others—cloaked with a thick green mantle of pines, oaks,
maple and dogwood, except for spots where the granite rock of the Sierra remains uncovered.
NOTICE TO DOGS
“All dogs within the limits of Goodyears Bar will please take notice, that by the laws of
said town, you are required to call immediately to the marshall’s office and obtain a tag. On and
after four days all dogs found within said limits without a tag will be impounded at their own
expense, and after imprisonment for three days will be shot until they are dead.” Records fail to
show if the dogs heeded the notice.
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