I listed this place ‘second’ because this is where I first learned everything, so
I have fond memories mining in this canyon. I got my first flake here, my first nugget,
here, my first dredging experience here, etc. I used to go every weekend and even
during the week for a number of years here! This is one of the best rivers to go
to in Southern California to find color and gain experience (But I also like the
Kern River). There was a gold rush here and good gold was pulled out during the 1800’s.
It was also mined here during the Great Depression.
It’s not far from sunny Los Angeles, California in the San Gabriel Mountain Range,
the San Gabriel River has yielded a significant amount of placer gold, including
some good sized nuggets. The San Gabriel Mountains are located in a part of the
Transverse Range geologic province of Southern California, just a short drive north
of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. Because of its easy
and convenient access, this location has become a very popular spot for local prospectors
- and much of the placer area is designated for recreation and anyone is welcome
dip their gold pan in the water and prospect here for free.
Placer gold was discovered in the San Gabriel range in the 1840s in the area has
had several productive periods since that time (Actually, in the canyon, there are
reports of the Spanish Conquistadors working this area before that period and there’s
even reports of mining before them!) . Nuggets and flakes of placer gold have been
obtained from both the stream gravels as well as older terrace bench gravels above
the river (even 100’ and higher!). Some good sized nuggets more than an ounce in
size have been produced from these deposits, but fines and flakes are much more
common. The bench gravels were mined by hydraulic mining as well as tunneling along
the bedrock. While a number of streams in the region west of Mt. San Antonio (also
known as Mount Baldy) have been productive, the East Fork of the San Gabriel River
has produced most placer gold.
In 1874, it was reported that more than $2 million in gold had been produced from
this area (but it could have easily been much more). In addition to the productive
placer deposits, there are also several hard rock mines located in this area. Lode
gold mining was most productive during the period from 1903 to 1908, however there
was some activity again in the 1930s during the Depression. The estimated total
output of the lode mines here is about 50,000 ounces.
The gold quartz veins occur in schist and gneiss, both of which are metamorphic rocks.
While the values are spotty, the ore deposits are rich in places. The veins are
usually less than 3 feet thick and do not extend to any great depth. The oxidized
zones near the surface yielded the richest ore. The erosion of the veins in these
hard rock deposits are the source of the placer gold nuggets found in the gravels.
East Fork Road, located in the San Gabriel Mountains above the city of Azusa, California,
is a road that gives access from State Route 39 into East Fork and other small townships.
Along East Fork Road there are extensive fire fighting facilities which are staged
to combat the many fires that break out among the foothills above Azusa, Glendora,
and San Dimas every year.
The road begins at Route 39, passing over the San Gabriel River, and follows the
East Fork of the river, crossing a number of small streams. The terminus is Heaton
Flat, which has a campsite, a ranger station, and trails that lead upstream and to
the summit of Iron Mountain, 6,000 feet (1,800 m) above.
Popular gold panning sites can be reached from the road. The road passes the site
of "Eldoradoville" (near the white bridge - “Cattle Cyn” area), a mining town with
three stores and six saloons that was established in 1859 and washed away in a flood
on January 18, 1862.
East Fork Road was initially planned as an outlet from the Los Angeles Area to State
Route 2, and includes a "Bridge to Nowhere" that was abandoned after a flood; a later
plan included two never-used tunnels on the aborted Shoemaker Canyon Road.
In January 2005 a flood washed out two bridges which stranded 200 campers and residents
El Doradoville: The City of Gold
During 1854, when gold was discovered in the San Gabriel Canyon, a town named El
Doradoville was built at the fork of the San Gabriel to take care of some 2,000 miners
who had filed on gold claims along the east fork of the canyon. During the next 20
years, it is estimated that $12 million in gold was mined and shipped to various
mints throughout the United States. The town of El Doradoville was destroyed by flood
waters in 1861 and 1862.
Bernie McGrath, unofficial Mayor of the East Fork!
My friend Luis’ gold from the East Fork
Cool older pics
Arlene and Roy relaxing after digging
Good gold from this spot sluicing!
Keene Engineering Outing - cleaning up the gold after the BBQ!
Old miner Bernie showing off his gold
Carlos and me getting that gold!
“Bronco Dave” dredging up the gold!
Long time miner and resident of the area Bernie McGrath! Unofficially the “Mayor”
of the East Fork! :)
Walter and Ivan having fun!
Sampling the area! Look at those tree roots! I found gold in this area - I took the
material down to the river to pan
Here’s another great spot! - I used to get almost a gram sluicing here! It was not
more than 3 or 4 inches down! It’s pretty much worked out by us now though. Other
people got in this spot. (Butte Creek Dave originally discovered it)
Tom, his friend, me and Sparky
My friends dredges
Good gold from dredging the East Fork! This is the result of about 4 hours of dredging.
(I used to use a green pan, but now I rather use blue or black)
Some of the nuggets I got from dredging, detecting, etc
Fun in the sun sluicing!
Got it made in the shade!
Sisters Romie and Monique
My friend Tommy brought some of the youth group from church to the river. They first
started off with a Bible study and then I taught them about panning, dredging, and
sluicing. (I’m the one with the wet suit)
My customer ‘Luis’ here at the store (and now my prospecting friend) showing off
his gold! He’s getting pretty good for not at this hobby long yet!
Long time friend ‘Carlos’ here at this shop showing off the gold he just got! (A
couple hours of sluicing) - He always gets up to the East Fork late! Lol!
Beautiful East Fork San Gabriel River
Pics of Luis’ friends gold up at the East Fork
East Fork gold!
Some nice nuggets have been dug from under this big rock, I got 5 myself!
The famous ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ (about a 5 miles hike)
Some more gold pics Luis sent
Luis’ friend sniping - he got some nice gold from here!
Some of my gold from dredging, sluicing, etc. :) Thank you Jesus!
My friend Tim and I at the East Fork
Tommy having fun!
Nice nug’s I got up past the Narrows, found with a whites GMT metal detector
A good day sluicing up on the East Fork
Jeff and I setting up
There was about 30 people digging into the bank for gold that day!
The gold I got that day! - (My friend Kent let us work his hole)
Luis showing off a nugget he got with his new Whites GMT Detector
Luis got nice pics of some old mining equipment, mine hole, etc
East Fork (past the Narrows)
Fellow miner friends I met that day, digging along the gravel bank
Some of my nugs (Metal detecting)
My first nugget dredging
My second nugget dredging
Carlos ‘backpacking’ one of his kids across the fast flowing river
The White Bridge at Cattle Canyon (across from the site of old Eldoradoville town)
This area here is the site of the old Eldoradoville
More gold from the East Fork that my customers are showing off!
Cool male & female frogs (We let them go later)
Johnny and Pat Keene at Keene Eng/GPAA Outing
GOLDMINER’S OUTPOST 8011 PIONEER BLVD., WHITTIER, CA 90606 USA 1-800-594-3318
CLICK ICONS BELOW FOR SHORT VIDEO CLIPS
Bridge to nowhere
At the Narrows!
Digging under big boulder
Detecting under big boulder
More digging big rock
Trench along big rock
Close up of gold I found
* Interesting videos of hiking up past the Narrows to a spot where I got some really
nice nuggets in one spot! (Sorry for the video quality)
Poor racoon got killed
The gravel bank!
Good day sluicing!
More good gold!
Gold in the sluice!
Found little nugget!
* Cool short clips of getting nice gold from a large gravel bank! (Again, sorry
for the video quality)
Luis’ customers he took on ‘gold’ charter for their first time gold prospecting -
got a nice little nugget that day!
Big Horn Sheep
Click here for video of Bernie
Old Time Prospector
Thomas and me
Luis again way up the canyon at a nice water fall!
James and his friend taking a break
Johnny and me at a Keene/GPAA Outing with Pat Keene’s crew