Friday, May 31, 2019

Gold Fever: A Tale of the Lost Cabin Mine

The Lost Cabin mine is a fabled gold mine which was located by prospectors Cox, Benedict and Compton during the year 1850, however, the first quartz mines in Shasta County were not dug out and located until 1852, everything up-until-then (in this county) were placer mines. While the three miners were prospecting in the Sacramento River Canyon (where it is believed to have been located) a grizzly bear met them face-to-face. The miners shot and killed the animal which fell into a natural shaft about several feet in diameter. One of the men jumped into this depression in the ground to cut the meat from the grizzly bear for food.

While he was carving out the meat from the grizzly bear, he noticed a gold nugget in the shaft and he stopped cutting meat to continue to prospect this natural hole while he moved the large creature around to give him room to make the search. He found additional free gold, and he stopped collecting the nuggets. The three men discussed what to do next and they decided to cut the trees in the area to erect two cabins. Eventually, the two cabins were erected by Cox, Benedict and Compton at the site. They also found a way to lift the body of the grizzly bear out of the hole to clear it out.

Cox, Benedict and Compton, stayed in the area for sometime they had axes with them which helped them build their cabins and blaze a trail to their discovery site. However, within time the fear of the heavy winter months ahead forced them to abandoned this claim. Legend has it that the three men departed the area with $40,000 each. in free gold, a grand total of $120,000. They reached a trading post near Whiskeytown, and showed the people at the trading post their findings which made their story factual and in time legendary. The three men never returned to Shasta County, and the secret of its location went with them until they died.

Then in 1853, John W. Hillman led a party of prospectors into the Sacramento River Canyon in the upper end of the canyon in hopes to locate the fabled Lost Cabin mine, this was before he discovered Crater Lake in Oregon. Their search yielded no results. The men were hoping to find the cabins of the former miners still standing in a non-populated place. Once they found no trace of this fabled site they decided to move north into the Oregon territory.  

During 1855, a new rush of miners seeked-out the area of Lower Soda Springs which was the home to Castle Crags. The tale of the Lost Cabin mine was retold by an early pioneer settler of the area named Joe De Blondy alias Mountain Joe who kept a trading post in the area. Mountain Joe had befriended another pioneer in the area by the name Cincinnatis H. Miller alias Joaquin Miller the famed Poet of the Sierra's who also talked about the fabled mine. Mountain Joe thought it would bring him additional business to his trading post, and his business flourished because of it. As more European-American's and other emigrants entered Shasta County the tale became widespread. Thousands of men dotted the creeks and bars on the Sacramento River in search of the fabled mine.
Pictured above: Cincinnatis H. Miller alias Joaquin Miller the famed Poet of the Sierra's. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

Miners began filling the nearby creeks and the Sacramento River with mud from their mining activities which killed the salmon run in these channels. They also began to hunt the wild game in the area which left no food for the Modoc Indians. The Modoc Indians began attacking travelers using the Oregon Trail in response to the European-Americans which forced the closure of that famous route in Shasta County. It was a major set back for the region as supplies and the local mail couldn’t reach various areas. After that, a raid was made upon Mountain Joe’s trading post and many supplies were stolen by them including sacks of flour. Some of these flour sacks accidentally tore open upon their return home. This allowed the European-Americans to find them easier as it marked a trail for them, in June of 1855, a war broke out called Battle Rock. Battle Rock was a deadly clash between the Modoc Indians in the area and the gold miners who were in search of the Lost Cabin mine due to the above events.

Captain George R. Crook led his military troops up Castle Crags to fight the Modoc Indians but they ended up losing the fight. The next attack was led by pioneer Reuben Gibson whose wife was was a daughter of Chief Weilputas, Chief of the Shasta Indians. The Shasta Indians were enemies of the Modoc Indian tribe. The Chief loaned his Indian warriors to Gibson. This group also contained Shasta County Sheriff John Driebelbis, Mountain Joe, Joaquin Miller, and additional gold miners to assist them in their fight. It was in this battle that Joaquin Miller was injured. Gibson’s group won the battle. Battle Rock was also documented as being the last battle in which local Indians used bows and arrows.

As for the Lost Cabin mine, it has never been found in Shasta County, yet, their have been many claims over the years in other areas of California printed by various media outlets which claim that miners have found the legendary Lost Cabin mine. There is a version of the story printed by the San Francisco Gate which places the fabled gold mine in Trinity County. However, these are the Shasta related events that are known. It still attracts a lot of attention today. Battle Rock is now a California historical landmark.

The plaque states, “Battle Rock - Battle of the Crags was fought below Battle Rock in June 1855. This conflict between the Modoc Indians and the settlers resulted from miners destroying the native fishing waters in the Lower Soda Springs area. Settlers led by Squire Reuben Gibson and Mountain Joe Doblondy, with local Indians led by their Chief Weilputus, engaged Modocs, killed their Chief Dorcas Della, and dispersed them. Poet Joaquin Miller and other settlers were wounded.”  California Registered Historical Landmark No. 116 Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus, Trinitarianus Chapter #62, July 26, 1984. Photograph taken by Jeremy Tuggle on May 31, 2019.


STORY OF SHASTA'S LOST CABIN MINE IS AN INTERESTING ONE - By May Southern - The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, July 18, 1930

The Legend of the Lost Cabin Mine, 1948 by Robert O’Brien - San Francisco Gate, June 17, 2012

Shasta County, California A History by Rosena Giles, published by Biobooks, ©1949, pages 37-38.

The Covered Wagon 1967, published by Shasta Historical Society

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