History – Old Town Auburn, California

170 years of rich history from Gold Rush to Endurance Races

1852 Auburn Ravine, with chinese 101

Posted By on July 23, 2009


1852, Auburn Ravine with 4 chinese, 3 white miners

1852, View Auburn Ravine, of with 3 white men & 4  chinese and long toms or sluice boxes. All have same gold frames in leather boxes, lined with red fabric.

These four daguerreotypes are old famous photographs of the worlds rush for California’s gold.  The 49’er Gold Rush and  the ethnic diversity of these photos are still recognized by every country and nationality. All four photos were taken at or near Auburn, and Auburn  Ravine in 1852.

1852 Spanish Flat 100

Posted By on July 14, 2009

1892 Spanish Flat

1852 Spanish Flat, in Auburn

View of 4 men with two miners at work on a  long tom or sluice box ( one or two men is an African American, one man inside the wagon and one man is at the rear of the wagon. Water in long tom appears to come from hose at top.

Joseph  Blaney  Starkweather author/photographer, 1852 one of 4 taken in Auburn. Daguerreotype, original, California State Library,  California Room

Source:  Historian Collection, City of Auburn.

View of Auburn, September 15, 1851

Posted By on July 10, 2009


View of Auburn-Pla20090010043cropcer County in “Placer Times and Transcript”

Quote: “Auburn is one the oldest mining towns in this state. It is the seat of  justice for Placer County, and is situated on the west bank of the North Fork of American River, within in three miles of the junction of the Middle and the North Forks.  The streets and town lots of the settlement have been considerably dug over for gold and in many instances houses have been undermined for the same object. At present it is the principle trading point for the large number of miners …..

The Bear River, which at present empties into the Feather River just above Nicolous is soon to be turned from its original course by means of a canal thirty-five miles long, and when this great work is completed, which will be before many months, the entire volume of water will pass through Auburn and disembogue in the American River. It will be creating a new River in California….”

“The above view was drawn and engraved by Mr. Thomas Armstrong, a most finished artist, whose wood cuts of California towns and cities are justly celebrated.”

Source: Placer Times and Transcript, Vol. 1 No 6 Microfilm Cal. State Lib.

New Post Office 1852

Posted By on July 2, 2009

Post Office 1940 circa

Post Office 1940 circa

William Gwynn, operating a general store in Auburn, opened the first Post Office at his store in 1852.

Within weeks his advertisement in the Placer Herald newspaper dated Oct. 23, 1852,  announced to residents   “From this date, Auburn Post Office  will be open for the delivery of letters on Sunday from 3 to 4 o’clock.”   Signed Wm Gwynn, P. M.

In 1853 the United States Government started delivery of the mails to towns in the Mother Lode from new main Post Office in San Francisco.

Claude Chana discovers gold

Posted By on July 1, 2009

Chana, still at Sigard’s Ranch, learned of Marshall’s discovery at the Sawmill in Coloma and set out with a party to try his luck. On May 16, 1848 Claude Chana found gold in the Auburn Ravine, and Baltimore Ravine. 

 By April 1849 North Fork Dry Diggings had become a well established mining camp. The camp went by many names including; North Fork Dry Diggins, Woods Dry Diggings, Auburn Ravine, Baltimore Ravine, Rich Ravine, Spanish Ravine, and others. These small ravines acted like “catch basins” for lumps of gold deposited from ancient river channels. Each rain brought more gold nuggets into now fast flowing streams. 

 In August of 1849 the camp was officially named “Auburn.”

The winter of 1849-50 saw thousands of miners in Auburn, high water in streams and rivers and freezing weather forced many, to hold over in the best shelters they could find or build, near sources of supplies.


Hunters, trappers, explorers, miners.

Posted By on July 1, 2009

early Auburn settlers

early Auburn miners

It wasn’t until the 1840’s that the first Euro-American hunters, trappers and fur traders appeared in the Ravine. They were soon followed by explorer/surveyor John Fremont in 1843 – 44, John Bidwell in 1844 – 45 and Theodore Sigard in 1845. As the first settlers started appearing in the early wagon trains, a young Frenchman named Claude Chana came west settling in at Sigard’s Ranch on the Bear River.

Pre-Columbine Auburn history

Posted By on July 1, 2009

maidu man

maidu tribesman

There is evidence to suggest man’s presence in the Auburn area dating back to 1400 B.C. However, the first known people were the Nisenan, an offshoot of the Maidu Tribe. There is documentation of well established villages in Auburn. The Nisenan, living in the midst of what would become the heart of the Gold Rush, were eventually pushed out of their land within two to three years of the discovery of Gold in Coloma, a Nisenan village called “Cullomain.”