Town of Gold Run (No. 405 California Historical Landmark)

Gold Run was one of the most productive mines in Placer County with an estimated total yield exceeding $15 million. O.W. Hollenbeck established the town in 1854, calling it Mountain Springs. The name officially changed in 1863 as a result of the riches discovered in the area. Ming camp settlements often began with one name and changed over time to match the discoveries, incidents or people of the day. Gold Run flourished from 1860 into 1884. It is located 25 miles northeast of Auburn on a ridge south of Dutch Flat between Bear River and North Fork of the American River. Other area camps included Squire’s Canyon, Canyon Creek, Goosling Ravine, Gold Run Canyon, Potato Ravine and Indian Canyon.

Hydraulic mining began here in 1865 by blasting mountainsides with steam of water and sending huge amounts of sediment to clog the rivers, that led to winter flooding and habitat destruction. The main attraction was the bed of distinctive blue gravel that stood two miles long, ½ mile wide and 250 feet deep. Historical records indicate that as much as 80 million cubic yards of gravel were mined in the region.

Today few residents live in Gold Run. The Pioneer Union Church is preserved. The former school house is now a private residence. Gold Run still bears scars from the Gold Rush era, although some damage is now covered by 100 year old forests. Deep ravines and high cliffs reveal the evidence of the now illegal practice of hydraulic mining.

The Anti-Debris Act of 1883: Sawyer Decision to end Hydraulic Mining

Hydraulic mining during the Gold Rush used high-pressure water jets to wash away gravel from a mountainside in order to extract gold from the rocks. Although hydraulic mining was popular with mining companies, the environmental effects on riparian habitat and land surrounding the rivers were devastating.

The case for the ”Anti-Debris Act” went to trial in June 1883. On July 1, 1884, Judge Lorenzo Sawyer’s decision to end hydraulic mining became one of the first environmental decisions in the nation. All hydraulic mining activities throughout the Mother Lode ended abruptly, leading to a sharp decline in population at any camp or town where hydraulic mining was the primary method of extracting gold. People moved on to other diggings and the places they left behind stood abandoned. 

The Historical marker is located on the northwest corner of Interstate 80 and Magra road, across the street from the post office.

Placer County

Placer is a Spanish word describing surface mining. Gold that had been “placed” in streams or on the ground through natural erosion was processed by planning, rocking, and similar techniques. Such mining efforts made Placer County residents some of the richest in California.

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Latitude: 39.180731 Longitude: -120.855772 Elevation: 3213 ft

About this Establishment

California Historical Landmarks Program

Historical Landmarks are sites, buildings, features, or events that are of statewide significance and have anthropological, cultural, military, political, architectural, economic, scientific or technical, religious, experimental, or other value. Historical Landmarks are eligible for registration if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

1) Is the first, last, only, or most significant of its type in the state or within a large geographic region

2) Is associated with an individual or group having a profound influence on the history of California

3) Is a prototype of, or an outstanding example of, a period, style, architectural movement or construction or is one of the more notable works or the best surviving work in a region of a pioneer architect, designer or master builder.

California’s Landmark Program began in the late 1800s with the formation of the Landmarks Club and the California Historical Landmarks League. In 1931, the program became official when legislation charged the Department of Natural Resources—and later the California State Chamber of Commerce—with registering and marking buildings of historical interest or landmarks. The Chamber of Commerce then created a committee of prestigious historians, including DeWitt Hutchings and Lawrence Hill, to evaluate potential landmark sites.

In 1948, Governor Earl Warren created the California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee to increase the integrity and credibility of the program. Finally, this committee was changed to the California Historical Resources Commission in 1974. Information about registered landmarks numbered 770 onward is kept in the California Register of Historical Resources authoritative guide. Landmarks numbered 669 and below were registered prior to establishing specific standards, and may be added to the California Register when criteria for evaluating the properties are adopted.

Share your experience. Please leave a comment below if you've visited this historical landmark.

Time Period Represented





I believe it was Mr & Mrs Norman Kim. I lived in Gold Run most of my life. Went to Gold Run School all 8 years and Graduated 8th grade in 1962. I attended Colfax High School from 1962 - 1966

Stanley Beckett, 8/4/2016

The Historical marker is located on the northwest corner of Interstate 80 and Magra road, but is not across the street from the post office.

GR, 3/12/2017

I went to a YMCA Boys Camp in Gold Run, Calif in 1955 and 56. I know this particular camp was still active in the late 1950s. The camp was owned by a man named Bill Lynch Mr Lynch’s wife still lived on the property in 1968, when I visited the property. I believe the camp was located on Garrett Road. Does anybody have any information about the camp, what happened to it etc?

dave miglorin, 8/30/2017

As a small child I lived in Gold Run with my parents, after my father passed we came to Texas. My father and grandfather are buried in that small cemetery. I have not returned to that area since.

Sharon Nelson Thomas, 10/8/2017

Hey Stan: You lived in Gold Run around the same time that I attended camp there. Do you remember the camp, located just off Garrett Road. The cam was operated by the Richmond YMCA and owned by Bill Lynch

dave miglorin, 11/16/2017

My father John Wood was pastor of the Gold Run Church until he passed in May 1991. He was suffering from agressive cancer. I was told that he sat as he preached his last sermon three weeks before his departure. He is buried up the hill in the Gold Run cemetary.

John P Wood, 3/16/2018

Looking for Rodger d Moore from P.O. box 81 gold run calif 1963 Air Force Wayne deans 757 407 3022

Wayne deans, 3/23/2018

Are there any long time residents of Gold Run that might remember a YMCA boys camp that was located (as I recall) just off Garrett Rd. The camp shut down in the early 1960s. The old camp site (might) be located around what is now called "Hidden gold Camp" Any information on the old camp would bemuch appreciated..Thanks so much!!

dave , 4/2/2018

If the boys camp you are talking about was a log house, it is still there on Garrett Rd. and is called Hidden Gold Ranch. It is the private resident of a friend of mine. I'm going to call her and tell her about this website. My family lived in Gold Run from 1962-1964. I went to 1st grade at the Gold Run school in '62-'63, the last year it was open.

Bernice, 7/20/18, 7/29/2018

When my family lived in Gold Run from '62-'63 the store/bar was owned by a couple whose last name was Moore. The store, PO and cabins behind it is now owned by Chris Snyder, whose mother owns the Hidden Gold Ranch.

Bernice, 7/29/18, 7/29/2018

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