Tevis Forum 2011

62 ★ TEVIS FORUM 2011 bar. Knowing that these river bars were not named, Buckner took his pocket knife and carved the smooth bark of an alder tree with “MURDERER’S BAR,” a name by which the spot has ever since been known. The party then crossed the river, establishing themselves on the opposite side from the Indians in an open spot where they were less liable to be ambushed. By the summer of 1849 there were companies of miners working on this and nearby river bars. By 1850 road systems were developed to Cave Valley, Pilot Hill and the other direc- tion toward Foresthill and Yankee Jim’s. These roads became well traveled by those coming from Sacramento to the nearby mining camps. A short distance above Murderer’s Bar is the modern day Western States Trail which forks in two directions. To the south the trail climbs to Cave Valley (used today as the upper rock quarry vet checkpoint) over a former wagon road that once continued on to California’s gold discovery site of Coloma through the towns of Cool and Pilot Hill. The trail to the upper rock quarry ascends approximately 900 feet to the upper limestone quarry crossing of Highway 49. Directly to the west and parallel with the American River there is a wide, well-graded road to the lower portion of the former Mountain (Lower) Quarry that is no longer active. This most direct route to Auburn travels along the former Mountain Quarry Railroad grade and across No Hands Bridge. BIG CREVICE The Middle Fork proved the richest of all, having more river bars with several that produced gold in the millions of dollars. Located where a big limestone ledge crosses the Middle Fork just belowMurderers Bar, the Big Crevice was a productive place for gold. The Big Crevice was a large cave in the limestone similar to the caves in the same ledge 1,000 feet higher and on the rim of the canyon above the river. Ap- parently the limestone roof of this cavern in the bottom of the canyon had been dissolved by the flow of the river and was filled with gold-bearing sedimentary gravel. (The Big Crevice is near Murderer’s Bar upstream from the present day Lower Rock Quarry Veterinary Checkpoint.) The flume operation developed in 1851 enabled the work- ing of the Big Crevice claim. When first discovered, the top two feet of gravel in the Big Crevice yielded between 25 to 50 cents a bucket, whichwas thrown away by the first operators. Under this gravel was a stratum of soapy sedimentary clay which a shovel could cut as easily as a knife cutting cheese. Reports indicate a yield from one to four ounces of gold to each bucketful.