Gold Districts of California
Location and History. The Snelling district is in eastern Merced
County along the Merced River between the towns of Snelling and Merced Falls. It is
principally a dredging field. Some placer mining and hydraulic mining of the terrace
deposits along the river were practiced during the gold rush. The town, named in
1851 for Charles Snelling, who operated a hotel and ranch here, was the governmental seat
of Merced County from 1857 until 1872. Gold dredging began in 1907 and continued
until 1919. There was dredging again from 1929 until 1942 and 1946 to 1952.
The value of the total output of the district is unknown, but the dredges are estimated to
have produced about $17 million.
Geology. The values were recovered from stream gravels and flood
plain and terrace deposits in and adjacent to the Merced River. The gravels are
loose with very little clay and range from 20 to 35 feet in depth. The dredged area
is about nine miles long and 1/2 to 1 1/2 miles wide. Bedrock is slate in the east
and volcanic ash in the west. The gold is fairly fine and about 890 in
fineness. A small amount of platinum is present. Dredge recoveries ranged from
10 to 30 cents in gold per yard, with the average close to 10 cents.
Dredging Concerns. Merced Dredging Co., 1934-42 and 1945-49, one
dredge; San Joaquin Mining Co., 1936-42, one dredge; Snelling Gold Dredging Co., 1932-42
and 1946-52, two dredges; Yosemite Mining & Dredging Co., 1907-19, one dredge; Yuba
Cons. Goldfields, 1930-41, two dredges.
Excerpt from: Gold Districts of California, by: W.B. Clark, California
Department of Conservation, Division of Mines and Geology, Bulletin 193, 1970.
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