Yorker Finds Gold in California
Wood’s Creek, Jamestown, California.
I just got back from a couple of weeks touring California and want to share one of the highlights of the trip. Of course, it had a York County connection.
Was it visiting Alcatraz? No, the closest tie between York and Alcatraz is some recent suggestions to house the prisoners from Guantanamo at one or the other. Touring Napa Valley vineyards? No, but both California and Pennsylvania are in the top ten lists of wine producing states. Yosemite? We have trees and waterfalls too, but I haven’t seen any of either quite as large in Pennsylvania.
San Simeon? Nice house William Randolph Hearst built there, but the closest I can get to his roots is Virginia. Roy Rogers (Leonard Slye) and his footprints in the courtyard at Grauman’s Chinese Theater? His ancestry can also be traced to Virginia. Maybe he and Hearst were related? Trigger’s hoof prints are there too, and internet sources say Trigger, Jr. was purchased by Rogers from Paul K. Fisher in Souderton, Pa.–at least there is a Pennsylvania connection, however weak. Michael Jackson’s nearby star on Hollywood Blvd. was getting a lot of attention last week. I don’t know of any local ties there, but who knows?
No, one of my favorite California spots was on Wood’s Creek in the small town of Jamestown, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.
Why? Because Jamestown was known as Wood’s Diggins in 1849, and that was where the 16 young men from York, known as the California Company, went to seek their fortune in gold.Click here for more on Jamestown/Wood’s Diggins.
I got to pan for gold in Wood’s Creek, at, or very near, the exact spot the Yorkers ended up. It is a commercial venture for us tourists, of course, but it was still fun as well as refreshing on a very hot day. After paying your fee at an office and store in town, you continue on a mile or so to the picturesque creek where you are met by a laid back “prospector” who gives you a bucket, a shovel, a coarse sieve and a gold pan. You wade out into the creek bed and shovel the sand and rocks into a sieve over the bucket. Then you drag the bucket to a wooden bridge so that you can sit down and swirl the sand around in the pan, looking for little glittery specks.
Almost everyone finds some flakes, also known as gold dust, to put in a little vial to bring home. I found a few flakes and also some fools gold. Considering that most, if not all, of the York Company was back in York County shortly after their agreed time was up, I don’t think they found a whole lot more at the diggins, but I’m sure it was an experience they would treasure all their lives.
Click the links below to read more about the 49ers from York.
The journey on the ship Andalusia.