Mariposa County, California, Gold Rush  Mining HistoryCALIFORNIA
History and Genealogy Research


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Mining and Scientific Press

February 24, 1871:   Sale of mines.  The old Whitlock and Sherlock property which has lain idle for six years has been transferred to Stephens and Lamber.  They will repair the mill at the Whitlock putting in new batteries and will put a sufficient portion of the mine in working order.  We understand that the sale is not absolute, but that Stephens and Lamber contract today $20,000 for the property if after working it eight months they shall be satisfied with it.   

March 10, 1871:  Stephens and Lamber have commenced work on the old Whitlock quartz mine.  Ten to twelve miners were sent to work on Monday.  The quartz taken out of the Whitlock mine is now looking splendid. >

In 1883:  Captain Diltz recently visited the Whitlock mines and found them almost inaccessible to reach, caused by overgrowth of Chaparral and Chimise.  The captain immediately employed men to clear away thicket of brush to make the mines accessible to visitors.

In 1888:   At Whitlock – Mariposa Gazette, October 20:  Good news reached us that Judge Walker is preparing to commence work opening the Whitlock mine as soon as conveniences can be provided for his employees upon the surface.  The mine is an old one which was worked from 30 to 40 years ago.  The old shaft tunnels and drifts are all more or less caved in and filled up, which will, no doubt, cause considerable dead work before the main body of ore can be reached.  The last work done upon the mine of any importance, as well as we can recollect, was by the Marshalls about 20 years ago.  Captain Diltz, who still lives, knows the character of the Whitlock mine and the Spencer vein, which is a part of the same property, better than any man living.  The captain frequently alludes to his early workings and that in one run of 100 tons they took out $10,000.  He still holds to the opinion that it is one of the best mines in the county.  The only trouble and drawback to this as well as other mines in the same vicinity is the need of fuel and want of water.   

April 5, 1890:    The Whitlock mines – Mariposa News, March 29:  The season opens with bright prospects in the quartz mining industry over in the Whitlock mining district.  Ellingham & Grove have purchased the 5-stamp mill formerly owned and operated by Dr. Robinson on Sherlock’s Creek, between White’s Flat and the old camp, and will remove it to a convenient point on Whitlock’s creek, at the site occupied by the little prospecting mill.  They have about 1000 tons of milling ore on hand ready for crushing.  Heisser & Peregoy have a splendid prospect in their claim near Ike Lyon’s place.  They sunk a shaft 50 feet in depth and run a crosscut developing a vein of about 9 feet in thickness, showing free gold as well as rich sulphurets, and are now crushing the ore at the prospecting mill of Ellingham & Grove.  In the opinion of men who have good judgment, based on experience in mining and milling, the ore now being crushed will yield about $20 a ton in free gold.   

If there has been no mistake made in the assays of concentrated sulphurets and in figuring the estimates of the percentage contained in the ore body, the gross yield per ton will aggregate something over $100.  Mr. Grove thinks this mine is going to develop a bonanza.  N. J. Farrens is at work on the Bull Dog vein which showed up in good form last year.  From a crushing of five tons of quartz a little over $55 was obtained.  Since the above was in type, Messrs. Peregoy and Heisser came in from Whitlock’s and reported the result of their cleanup.  They crushed 17 tons of quartz which yielded in free gold 18 ounces and $10, which is within a fraction of the previous estimate of $20 per ton.  They estimate the sulphurets to amount to one per cent of the ore body.  Sample assays show a yield of $11,000 to the ton of concentrated sulphurets.  They have from 300 to 400 pounds as the result of their late work and will ship them below for a practical test.  In crosscutting the vein they ran 7½ feet and were not through it when the winter storms drove them out.  The body of sulphuret ore was five feet in thickness.  Everything confirms the truth of the statement, based on estimates made by practical miners and a personal knowledge of that district, that this is a mine and Whitlock’s will soon come to the front as a lively mining camp.


May 17, 1890:  The Whitlock mines – Jack Farrens brought in some quartz from his claim on Whitlocks the other day, which showed free gold well distributed throughout and loose in a red ocher formation which was very rich.  Mr. Farrens has good reasons for believing that this is one of the many good mines now being prospected on Whitlocks.  There is every reason to assure a lively camp in the near future for that locality, as the mines there are looking up well without exception, and the more they are worked the better they prove to be.  A few of the more promising ones are the Alabama, Helm’s Duzenberry, Ellingham & Grove’s and Heisser & Peregoy’s.  A 1 the mines on the Whitlock’s and Sherlock’s creeks are known to be rich, deep mines that only require development to prove their endless value.


October 1, 1892:  The Ward brothers have increased the working force on the Whitlock mine and are preparing for a steady season’s work.  They have already enough good-paying rock in sight to insure the success of a mill.  Besides these mines, the usual number of prospectors is looking around selecting desirable locations before the coming winter. 


February 23, 1895:  The work of the Sierra-Butte company at the Whitlock mine is progressing favorably.  The fine three-compartment shaft is now down over two hundred feet, and seventy-five mine are employed in and around the mine.  The first consignment of machinery for the 50-stamp mill arrived this week and is being placed in position.  The carpenter work on the mill and other buildings is being forwarded as fast as circumstance will permit.


July 27, 1895:  At the Whitlock mine, the mill is now nearly completed and is designed for a much larger number of stamps than the 40 which will be used at the start.




August 24, 1895:  E. H. McGregor of San Jose, amalgamator for the Whitlock mine, arrived last week and has assumed his duties there.


September 21, 1895:  Whitlock – At this mine, five miles north of Mariposa, the hoisting works and about 100 feet of the timbering at the entrance of the shaft have been destroyed by fire.  The loss is about $3,000.  The mine had been working steadily with satisfactory results.


January 21, 1899:  There is a steady output of bullion from the Whitlock mine, under the management of William Johns.

Egineering and Mining Journal



1894:  Sierra Butte Mining Company – One of the most important mining sales which have been made in Mariposa County of late years was consummated recently, when Captain A. H. Ward sold to the Sierra Buttes Mining Company the following mines and mill sites:  The Whitlock, North Whitlock and Westward mining claims, the Whitlock, Spencer and North Whitlock mill sites and the water location of A. H. Ward on the Merced River.  About 240 acres of land were conveyed in the transfer.


March 2, 1895:  Whitlock – This mine, owned by the Sierra Butte Company, located five miles north of Mariposa, employs 75 men.  The three compartment shaft is down 200 feet.  The new 50 stamp mill is being placed in position and the mill and other buildings are being pushed to completion as fast as possible.


1900:  The accounts of the Whitlock mine show that a balance of £1,250 standing to the credit of profit and loss in the last account has been increased during the half-year under review by £428, making a total credit on June 30th last of £1,678.  The company’s operations were stopped at the end of February, and the mine let on tribute.  During the seven weeks that work was carried on by the company, 1,703 tons of ore were extracted from the mine, and the gold bullion produced from the treatment of the same in the mill sold for $9,532, giving an average yield of $5.60 per ton, the relatively high yield being caused through the mill plates having been thoroughly cleaned up.  The tributers commenced working in the Whitlock and Alabama Mines in March last, but as yet have met with very little success.


1902:  Whitlock – The electric plant projected by Capt. A. H. Ward on the Merced River will be of great benefit to the old mining camp of Whitlock, where there are large bodies of low-grade ore in mines now idle.  With cheap power they may be operated profitably. 



Thirteenth Report of the State Mineralogist



September 15, 1896:   Whitlock and Alabama Mines (Quartz). – They are 6 miles north of Mariposa, and are located on parallel veins.  The principal development is on the Whitlock vein.  A cross-cut tunnel has been driven 600 feet to the vein, along which a drift extends several hundred feet.  There are also several surface openings and shorter cross-cut tunnels, and two shafts.  The main shaft is now 480 feet deep and still being sunk.  A fire occurred in the mine in the summer of 1895.  The shaft timers were completely burned out, and the fire, communicating with the hoisting works on the surface, destroyed them also; subsequently, heavy caves of wall-rock occurred in the shaft.  This necessitated sinking the new shaft, and involved a great amount of dead work in clearing the mine of debris.  During the temporary stoppage of active mining operations the 20-stamp mill was kept running on a large pile of quartz previously mined, and hoisted through the old shaft.  A shaft is also being sunk on the Alabama vein.  It has a good substantial hoisting plant and a Cornish pump.  This shaft is at present the principal source of water supply for the mill, as water is scarce in the neighborhood.  A succession of dams has been built in the gulch below the mill, where the tailings are settled and the water pumped back.  Sixty-three men are employed.  Sierra Buttes Gold Mining Co. (Ltd.), of London, owner; William Johns, of 320 Sansome Street, San Francisco, general manager; A. G. Briggs, of Mariposa, superintendent.




Fourteenth Report of the State Mineralogist


1916:  The Whitlock vein is 4 feet wide between greenstone walls.  The development consists of a shaft and four levels and 2115 feet of drifts, winze 140 feet deep and 400 feet of crosscuts.  There are two stopes – one 150 feet long by 150 feet high, and the other 240 feet long and 300 feet high.  The equipment includes 2000 feet of mine rails, 6 ore cars, 3 trucks, 3 air machines and steel, 20-stamp mill, rock crusher, Challenge feeders, air compressor, 50 h.p. hoist engine, 3 boilers, 4 amalgamating plates, 4 vanners, assay office, blacksmith shop, boarding house and superintendent’s house.  The mine was shut down in 1899 and leasers worked it for a time, but it is idle now.




Seventeenth Report of the State Mineralogist


1921:  Whitlock Group consists of three patented claims, the Whitlock, Alabama and Westward, patented in 1897.  Owned by Dr. Gallison of Oakland and Lizzie Sain.  Situated in the Whitlock district, in section 32, T. 4 S., R. 18 E., 6 miles northwest of Mariposa, and 6 miles by trail south of Saxon Creek Station on the Yosemite Valley Railroad.   The elevation is about 3000 feet, not much timber, enough water to run a 20-stamp mill, surface fairly rough. 

There are three quartz veins, averaging four feet in width, between so-called greenstone walls.  The general strike is northwest and southeast, and the dip about 70 degrees northeast. 

Development consists of a 900-feet shaft with four levels and about 3,000 feet of drifts, cross-cuts, etc., and an 1800-foot drain tunnel.  Considerable stoping has been done.


Equipment consists of 20-stamp mill, 1000-pound stamp, rock crusher, Challenge feeders 4’ x 10’ plates, four concentrators; also blacksmith shop and tools, air compressor, three machine drills, hoist, 50-h.p. engine, three boilers, assay office, bunk house, boarding house, carpenter shop and dwellings.


The mine was closed about 1899, as it could not be made to pay, using wood for fuel at $4.25 per cord.  It has not been operated since.  It is stated that there is plenty of $4 ore in the mine. 


Whitlock District


This district is situated in the central part of the county, in sections of 29, 30, 31, 32 and 33 of T.4 S., R. 18 E., from 6 to 9 miles north of Mariposa.  Briceburg, on the Yosemite Valley Railroad and the Merced River is situated to the north, and reached by 2½ miles of wagon road and 5 miles of trail.  A good road, steep in places, extends from Mariposa, which is the nearest town, post office and supply point.


The topography is quite steep and rugged, the elevation varying from 2500 feet to over 4000 feet.  Water supply is derived from Whitlock Creek, and from many springs.  Small timber is quite plentiful. 


The greater part of the district lies within a belt of porphyry, the Calaveras slate being in contact with the porphyry, just to the north.  Nearly all of the veins occur between porphyry walls but occasionally one of the walls is slate. 


Some of the claims were located in the early 50’s and a few years later several properties were in operation, which supported a small town at Whitlock.  The town has now disappeared, however, and a very few of the properties have been in operation on a producing basis of recent years.  Many of the claims have been relocated several times. 

California Journal of Mines and Geology – Volume 53 #1 and #2


1957:  Whitlock Group (Consolidated Whitlock and Alabama).  Location: Sec. 32, T.4 S., R. 18 E., M.D., east of the Whitlock Creek road 3½ airline miles northwest of Mariposa and 4½ miles by graded dirt road from Mt. Bullion on Highway 49.  Ownership: Dr. Frank E. Gallison, P.O. Box 491, Ventura, California, and E. J. Freethy, 1432 Kearney St., El Cerrito, California, own 3 patented claims, the Westward, Alabama and Whitlock, aggregating 47.68 acres. 


The Whitlock group of mines was discovered prior to 1870, probably in the 1850’s or 1860’s as an aftermath of placer-mining on Whitlock Creek.  In 1871, the property was transferred under option for $20,000, to Stephens and Lamber.  Some production was made by this partnership that year and there was intermittent activity at that mine by others, probably leasers, through the 1870’s.  After a period of inactivity of several years’ duration in the early 1880’s, the property was reopened or at least re-explored by Captain Diltz of the Diltz mine.  At that time the ore was reported to average about $20 per ton and the vein to be 5 feet thick.  During the early 1890’s the mine was owned and operated by the Ward Brothers.  About 1895, the mine was sold by the Wards to the Sierra Buttes Gold Mining Company of London, England, and most of the development work and sustained mining at the property was done in the ensuing 5 years.  The Sierra Buttes Company erected a 20-stamp mill, replacing an earlier, smaller mill, and maintained a steady production from 1895 to 1900.  About $482,000 was recovered during this period.  Mining ceased with “considerable ore still in sight” because of the high operating costs.  Jacob Teets was listed as the owner in 1904, but by 1914 the property had passed into the Gallison family and Lizzie Sain.  A small production by Gallison and Sain was recorded between 1940 and 1942 when 942 tons of ore milled yielded only 133 ounces of gold and 33 ounces of silver.  Little or no work has been done on the property since 1942.  The total production of the mine is estimated to be about $500,000. 


There are three veins on the Whitlock group of claims, the Whitlock, Alabama and Westward.  The Whitlock vein strikes north to N. 10º E., dips 75º east to nearly vertical, and ranges from 4 to 10 feet wide.  Vein matter is chiefly milky quartz.  Ore minerals are chiefly pyrite and minor chalcopyrite with native gold, but locally argentiferous galena is prominent – particularly in the ore mined in 1900.  From the stopes described in old accounts there apparently were two main ore shoots, one about 150 feet long and one about 240 feet long.  Wall rocks are massive pyroxene andesite greenstone of unknown age.   The Alabama and Westward veins are roughly parallel with the Whitlock vein but diverge slightly toward it to the north.  They are less well defined and apparently contained less ore than the Whitlock vein.  In any event the Westward vein was very superficially developed and workings on the Alabama vein are much less extensive than those on the Whitlock vein. 



Principal workings on the Whitlock vein are a 900-foot, steeply inclined shaft, with 4 levels, and a 600-foot crosscut adit with connecting drifts.  Drifts connecting with the main shaft aggregate about 3000 feet and those connecting with the cross total several hundred feet.  There are several other crosscut adits of unknown length. None of the workings have been recently used but must be cleaned out.  The Alabama vein has been developed by an inclined shaft and connecting drifts of unknown extent.  These workings are also inaccessible. 


Gold Districts of California (Bulletin 193)


Location:  The Whitlock district is in west-central Mariposa County five miles north of the town of Mariposa.  The district is east of the Mother Lode gold belt and includes the Colorado, Sherlock Creek, and Whiskey Flat areas.  The area was placer-mined soon after the beginning of the gold rush, and lode mining began shortly afterward.  A number of mines were active here during the 1930’s and a few, such as the Diltz and Schroeder mines, have been intermittently prospected in recent years.


Geology:  Greenstone and green schist underlie much of the district, with some slate, phyllite, and mica schist in the north portion.  Granitic intrusives and serpentine are to the south.  There are an appreciable number of diorite, quartz-diorite, and aplite dikes that commonly are associated with the gold-quartz veins.  A northwest-trending fault extends along the west side of the district (see map). 


Ore Deposits:  Numerous north- and northwest-striking quartz veins contain small but rich ore shoots.  The veins usually are one to five feet thick, and a number dip at low angles.  The veins have a tendency to roll or bend, and it is in these bends or rolls that the high-grade pockets often occur.  Much specimen ore has been produced in the district; in 1932 the Diltz mine yielded 52- and 40-pound masses of gold and quartz.  The greatest depth of development is about 900 feet. 



California Gold Camps

Published 1975


East of Bear Valley, on the south side of the Merced River and well above it, shown on Butler’s map, 1851, and on later maps.  Mining started in 1849.  One of the first outbreaks against Mexicans occurred here.   The men who were driven out were apparently the Sonorans employed by the discoverers Thomas J. Whitlock.    The reliable Daniel Woods tells the following story of the discovery.  Whitlock and party discovered the deposit accidentally and took out $30,000 from a small square spot of ground. When they went to Monterey to deposit the gold, two sailors overheard them, took a furlough of seven weeks, followed the Whitlocks, and returned to their ship with 90 pounds of gold.


Woods himself mined here in November, 1849, but was disappointed with the results.  However, he met an old sailor who had kicked away an old stone and found underneath it a nugget worth $500. 


A similar lucky find is reported in the Mariposa Chronicle:  The Thomas Whitlock Company found a nugget of almost 86 ounces with only a little quartz; it had been thrown away because it was covered by a black mineral substance.  In a letter of September 1852, Whitlock, who had a claim here, speaks of successful operations with little outlay.



Mariposa Gazette

January 27, 1883

Part 1


As early as 1850, I knew of the existence of gold-bearing quartz veins or lodes on Sherlock’s and Whitlock’s creeks, but as my Mexican and Chilean miners were giving me good returns from the placer claim I had bought from the Texas company, I was but little interested in the repeated declarations of my Mexicans that the veins were rich.  Finally, at the conclusion of the Indian War of 1851, a party of Mexicans came up to work for me, and camped opposite my log cabin by the outcropping of what is known as the DILTZ mine.  Those men were experienced miners, and finding rich pocket specimens disintegrated from the vein, they traced it over the hill into Sherlock’s Gulch, finding “color” in nearly all the dirt taken from the vein.  They further declared their belief that it was the mother vein of supply to the rich diggings in the gulch itself.  Another party came later, and induced me to turn out all my men, some thirty at the time, to hunt for a “cavern of gold,” as it was described, said to have been found on the south side of Sherlock’s Gulch, but lost again in the dense thicket, in fleeing from the grizzlies.  The tale seemed a little cranky, but my men appeared to believe in the honesty of our boy informant, and we toiled up and down that mountain side in line of battle, taking close observation till every foot of the surface was explored. 




Our search resulted in the discovery of a vein of quartz, running nearly parallel with the gulch, but no pit, hole or cavern, and when the non existence of such a place was made evident to all of us, our Mexican youth with a simplicity to be found only among the gamins of our large cities, said:  “Well, you have earthquakes in California, and the hole must have been filled up.” 


Sometime afterwards, I had the vein recorded, as it was gold bearing.  The Mexican encampment at the Diltz mine, divided their force, some of them working for me in the placer claim, while others left for Saxton’s creek, where they found ounce diggings, and the quartz vein, afterwards known as the Snyder vein.  A few only remained to prospect the Diltz mine, which was done by erecting an arasta and grinding out the “pocket” they had discovered.  When they left, another party of Mexicans, headed by a monte dealer from Quartzburg, found the vein on the lower Saxton’s creek trail, a little north east of the Diltz mine.  Champlin H. Spencer had a small party of Mexicans from Sonora, working for him, who first attracted his attention to the Spencer vein.  Dr. John M. Crepelle, also had Mexicans working for him on Sherlock, who reported the quartz vein better than many worked in Mexico.   Some of the doctor’s men became dissatisfied and left him.  IN order to keep the others employed until diggings could be found, I allowed the doctor the free use of a small piece on my claim, out of which his men took the largest piece of pure gold (as far as known) ever taken from the southern mines.  It weighed 9 pounds avoirdupois, while that taken out by Paddy McCann and Pat Hussey weighed but six. 


Sometime previous to the quartz era inaugurated by “Quartz Johnson,” Thomas J. Whitlock with a party of men from Missouri had been persistently mining near the head of Sherlock’s creek, but finding the lead run out, as they supposed, prospected the gulches tributary to what is now Whitlock’s creek.  Whitlock’s men found rich diggings up the creek, and tracing “float” or ragged gold to the Whitlock vein, where convinced that it afforded the gold of their newly discovered placer.  Taking the hint from this suggestion, outcroppings were traced over the ridge into the Fremont Estate, and at the foot of the hill along the trail to Mariposa, the same quality of gold was found, and in many instances after a heavy rain, gold was picked up from the surface.  The Whitlock men finally made a record of their discovery, at which date your county records will show, but finding the cost of machinery too great for prudent investment of their hard earned gold they sold out their mine to me, and left for Missouri.  About that time there was a quartz furore encouraged by the remarkable assay furnished us by the foreign and native Professors of San Francisco.  Some of these assays proved that we had mines that would in some instances, yield us thousands of dollars per ton.  One instance I remember where a metulurgist afterwards connected with the U.S. Mint at San Francisco, reported to me a yield of 12-1/2 cents per pound, for rock I never found a color in, nor could my expert Mexican miners discover any.  A probable solution of the mystery was, that by some error, another specimen had been substituted for the one sent by myself.


Mariposa Gazette

January 27, 1883

Part 2


What wonder that for a time in those early days, we had golden dreams, and went our bottom dollar on the prospect?  Dr. Brunson, the first surgeon of the Mariposa battalion, brought over two or three of his negro slaves and first prospected the Spencer vein, but the encouragement received, held him but a short time, when he took his negroes and went back to his southern home.  Captain Hawley was the first considerable worker in the quartz mining, and the first victim.  His mill was put up at enormous expense to crush rock from Saxton’s Creek mines, and afterwards, to work the Spencer vein.  Another mill was put up by an ingenious mechanic, whose name I do not now recall, near the mouth of Saxton’s creek.  Captain Hawley failed to extract gold in paying quantities, and his mill of eight or nine stamps, was sold to the French company in which Spencer and myself unfortunately became interested.  The superintendent of the company had been a Parisian sub editor, well versed in all that belonged to the opera-bouffe, or the comedie Francais, but gold quartz mining he knew absolutely nothing.  Therefore, a Berlin Mining Engineer was employed at a salary of five hundred dollars per month, and a mechanical engineer and mill wright was also employed at a like salary and board, while the superintendent, bookkeeper, his body-servant and cook, probably required another thousand dollars a month for their services.


The mill wright referred to in your article, was entirely secondary to the quartz crushing mill, and was a very ingenious contrivance of the French mechanician, which, though it cost a good deal, could never be made to work.  As for the Spencer and Whitlock veins, though barely prospected by the company, they reported a large expenditure in building roads and in opening the mines for future economic exploration.  I will dwell upon this part of the history of those mines further than to say, that the French company fulfilled none of the engagements.  Spencer went to Paris and brought suite in the criminal court against the president of the company.  It was proved that he was quality of criminal mismanagement, and was rigorously punished after the summary methods of French law.  He said in substance, that the only way to make money out of mining, was “to work the shares up and down.”  Spencer advised me of the situation, and when he wrote me, supposed he had reorganized the company upon an honest and solid basis.  I was assured of being refunded any expense I might incur in keeping the mill and property intact for the share holders, and when attempt was made by the superintendent to place the property under a lease for a term of years, I levied a execution, and obtained a personal judgement for non fulfillment of contract.  The mill property was sold on execution, and I bought it in.  With a view of keeping up the work upon lodes or veins, I associated with me, in running the mill and working the mines, Charles Chapin, an engineer who had some experience at the Mt. Gaines mill.  The expense of refitting the mill was greater than our combined capital would justify, and when we finally got to work, our expenses overran our receipts of gold.  This was principally owing to the great cost of labor at that time, and the little preparation that had been made to extract the ore economically. 



I was encouraged to hope for succor, by receiving a letter from a special agent of the company, who had then just arrived in San Francisco.  The agent wrote me to learn the situation, I replied by advising a continuance of his journey to the mines.  The next steamer brought news of the disorganization of the company, and an entire abandonment of their California exploitation’s in mines.  I had pledged the mill property for money to pay sheriff’s fees, and a personal fund of $1,500 in San Francisco, I drew and paid what I esteemed debts of honor.  As to the mill and mines, they were transferred, as if by earthquake, into other hands. 


It has been said that the passion for gambling is incurable.  I believe that, for mining is equally so.  At all events, with the English maxim before me, that “it takes a mine to work a mine,” had I the means to indulge in the excitement of the almost certain reward, I would organize a company to work all the mines on Whitlock’s, Sherlock’s and Saxton creeks, by erecting a water power mill, located at some suitable point on the Merced river, which might be occasionally supplied with ore by a narrow gauge railroad.  Then the other difficulties which beset our pioneer attempts at mining would vanish before the improved methods of saving gold, diamond drills, compressed air and dynamite. 


Yours truly,


L. H. Bunnell