Dozens of creeks in the Cariboo were worked and re-worked for gold over the years. Creeks like Antler, Beggs Gulch, Canadian, China, Cunningham, Downy, Guyet, Lightning, Lowhee, Nugget Gulch, Quartz, Williams, White Grouse, and Wolfe became famous to those who fell under the spell of that precious yellow metal.
|Aurora Gold Mining
Claim on Williams Creek
|Wattie and Tinker
But by the summer of 1861, gold was being taken out, creating a great deal of excitement. One company estimated that they had made a profit of $80,000 by early August. A day's worth of work was not being measured in ounces of gold any more, but in pounds of gold. Sometimes it added up to 30 pounds of gold a day. By the end of the 1861 mining season, $2,600,000 worth of gold had been produced, most of it from the Cariboo region. The output for the next year, 1862, was slightly more.
The Cariboo Gold Rush, like most gold rushes, was a mixture of both individual successes and failures. News about the rich strikes quickly spread back to Victoria, and San Francisco, prompting many more people to leave for the gold fields of the Cariboo. Many of these "would be" prospectors arrived with no knowledge of mining, and minimal supplies. With no room for new claims on the existing sites that were producing gold, many of these prospectors turned around and headed home.
|The Cameron Claim|
By the end of 1863 over 100 companies had staked a total of 3000 claims, and the value of the gold removed that year was just under $4,000,000. The years 1864 and 1865 saw similar gold production levels. Most of the gold was found during the first five years of the Cariboo gold rush. Many of the claims were still being worked in 1900. It is estimated that William's Creek and two of its tributaries, Conklin and Stout's Gulch, produced $30,000,000 worth of gold between 1861 and 1898.
June 24, 1865
An ever increasing stream of pack trains with supplies and people had been arriving since the summer of 1861. What started out as a few cabins huddled together around a claim, soon turned into mining camps. These camps in term grew into the towns of the Cariboo gold rush that became famous in their own right.