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Updated September 27, 1998

Brownsville, California


By Kitty Fowler

(Copyright 1998 - All rights reserved)

Brownsville is on the Marysville-LaPorte Road 33 miles from Marysville, California. I.E. Brown built a sawmill in the August, 1851 at a cost of $8,000. The operation was a success due to the need for timbers for building and mining. The 1849 gold strike at Sutter’s Mill, which started the Gold Rush to California, brought many miners into the area.

With the growing population entrepreneurs of all kinds moved to the area and built businesses.

In November of 1852 Martin Knox and P.E. Weeks bought the mill under the firm name of Weeks & Knox. The mill was abandoned about 1857.

In addition to the mill, Brown and his partner, John Hoyt, opened a hotel in a log house. When Weeks & Knox bought them out, they named the place Brownsville in honor of Brown.

In 1853 a store was stared in connection with the hotel. With the need for accommodations for travelers and miners Weeks and Knox built a large hotel. In 1861 the partners closed the store. The hotel was burned in 1866 and another was built in the same year.

In 1878 a large addition was made to the hotel and an educational institution was opened. A hall association was also formed along with a tore and more than $15,000 was spent on improvements, a large sum for that time.

The Knoxdale Institute was founded by Mr. and Mrs. Martin Knox and the school opened on September 9, 1978 with Prof. E. K. Hill as principal. There were only five students when the school opened but this number increased to 17 by the second term. The school continued in existence for about seven years.

The Knoxdale School building stands today in the town of Brownsville. It has been many things in its checkered past. Having served once as a brothel (so rumor has it), a bar, a card parlor and in recent years as a Mexican restaurant and a traditional bakery and luncheon cafe.

The building has been the center of entertainment which has continued until very recently when music and pageantry have delighted Christmas celebrants in the community.


150 years ago history was changed for California

By Kitty Fowler

(Copyright 1998 - All rights reserved)

(The first installment of a series of short articles about California's Lost Sierra gold mines.)

Gold! a magic word that has sparked the imagination of men for thousands of years. California in the 1850's became synonymous with gold as the Gold Rush brought throngs to its lush lands, its creekbeds to make their fortunes. The Golden State contributed billions of dollars to the economy and acres of land to the growth of a nation. The Gold Rush spawned everything from fortunes, writes like Bret Harte and industries that still exist today (Levi Strauss) to frog jumping contests that draw tourists. The Gold Rush brought people to the sunny lands where avocados grow and the film industry flourishes today..

In all, from 1848 to 1968, 106,276,163 ounces of gold were produced with a value, based on the U.S. Treasury figures at $20 to $35 an ounce, of $2,428,330,901. In 1968 the U.S. Treasury suspended purchases of gold, from which the gold standard of our nation had been based, leaving miners to sell their gold on the open market. This has allowed prices to rise to their present level of somewhere between $300 to $375 and ounce. If your are interested in today's price, check your morning stock market news.

The first known discovery of gold in California was made in the Potholes district, Imperial County, between the years of 1750 and 1780. Mining was extended into the Cargo Muchacho and Pacacho districts.

A small placer gold deposit was discovered at San Ysidro, San Diego County, in 1828. The next significant discoveries were in 1835 in San Francisquito Canyon, Los Angeles County, and 1842 in Placerita Canyon, also in Los Angeles County. Some sources give the date of this discovery as 1841, but the California Division of Mines and Geology recognize the former date.

The rush was on in 1848 with the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill at Coloma ion the American River by James Marshall. Although the exact date has been the subject of much speculation, it has been officially designated as January 24, 1848. Publication of the find in San Francisco was on March 15, sparking the stampeded north.

Shortly after the Sutter's Mill find, General John Bidwell, discovered gold in the Feather River, and Major Pearson B. Reading found gold in the Trinity River.

The Sierra Nevada gold district boasts some of the most profitable mines and some of the largest nuggets found. Despite the famous find at Sutter's/ Mill that led to the California Gold Rush, the nugget found weighed less that a quarter of an ounce. There is no proof that this nugget still exists. It is not likely, but a flake of gold which Captain Folsom sent to Washington 1848 and described as Marshall's first piece is now in the Smithsonian.

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