Gold Bluffs boasts the perfect name for the beaches near Orick, along the coast of what would become Prairie Creek State Park. Gold digs along the Trinity River in the 1850s attracted prospectors to the stretch between the river’s mouth and Klamath City, according to historical information from the National Parks Service.
The fine blend of gold and sand, though, proved too well mixed together to easily separate. Businessmen took a new interest in the site during the Civil War, as gold fetched top prices.
When the tides allowed, miners would load bags of the gold-sand onto mules who would carry them off the beach before waves crashed in again. Operations ended with the war’s end.
Reports vary on whether waves washed the treasure in from the ocean’s depths or stripped it from the shore’s bluffs. The California Geneology and History Archives, an online database, describes the early success in collecting gold from the region.
But that source, too, notes a decline in discovery and a difficulty in separating the sand and gold mix that would fool later prospectors.
“The accounts of the gold found in those olden days read like a romantic story from the times of the Spanish conquest,” states an archive entry on the 1850s reports of gold discoveries.