Holcomb Valley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Holcomb Valley
Hangmans Tree - Gold Fever Trail - Big Bear California.jpg
Hangman's Tree, where frontier justice was dispensed
Coordinates 34°18′10″N 116°53′46″W / 34.3028°N 116.8960°W / 34.3028; -116.8960Coordinates: 34°18′10″N 116°53′46″W / 34.3028°N 116.8960°W / 34.3028; -116.8960
Reference no. 619
Holcomb Valley is located in California
Holcomb Valley
Location of Holcomb Valley in California

Holcomb Valley, located in the San Bernardino Mountains about five miles north of Big Bear Lake, was the site of the most gold mined in Southern California. It was named after William F. Holcomb, who found gold there in 1860. That year started the largest gold rush in the Southern California region.[1] The boomtown of Belleville grew up near there and flourished for about ten years before being abandoned. The site is now registered as California Historical Landmark #619.[2]

Gold[edit]

In May 1860, gold was found there by William F. Holcomb and Ben Choteau.[1] They were miners who had been prospecting at Bear Valley. Holcomb found gold while he was tracking a bear in the valley later named after him. After Holcomb and Ben Ware filed mine claims on five sites in May 1860 at the County Recorder's office, word spread quickly and prospectors rushed to the area.[3]

Before long, a gold camp sprang up within 150 inches of where the gold was found. It became a town and, after the first child Belle was born, the new town was named Belleville in her honor. It soon became the largest town in San Bernardino County with a population of about 1,500 and was nearly became the county seat. Filled with rough characters competing over gold, it was a place of violence and hanging justice. It was the third and fourth largest town in Southern California during these years[4][5]

Holcomb Valley produced the most wealth from gold of any Southern California mining district. With time, major placer and quartz mining declined, followed by the departure of most of the population of Belleville after 1870. Hard rock mining continued at the Gold Mountain Mine until 1919.[6] Some mining activity continues today, with 2,000 claims by hobbyists.[4]

The valley is the site of the Holcomb Valley Scout Ranch (formerly of Old Baldy Council), on the site of the old Hitchcock Ranch. It provides opportunities for youth to have experience in ranching, hiking and related outdoor activities.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "NO. 619: HOLCOMB VALLEY", State Historical Landmarks, San Bernardino County
  2. ^ "Holcomb Valley". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  3. ^ L. Burr Belden, Holcomb Valley Gold Discovery; Billy Holcomb's own story, Bloomington, CA: San Bernardino County Museum Association, 1955, ISBN B0007FX5TQ
  4. ^ a b "Belleville, California - Waiting for the Mother Lode", Legends of America
  5. ^ L. Burr Belden, Holcomb Valley Gold Discovery; Billy Holcomb's own story, Bloomington, CA: San Bernardino County Museum Association, 1955, ISBN B0007FX5TQ
  6. ^ California State Mining Bureau, Report of the state mineralogist, Issue 17, State Office, 1921. p.. 346
  7. ^ Big bear get away guide