Cherokee Mining Office Ruins
In 1849, Welsh miners arrived in this area, which had been frequented by the Maidu and was supposedly once the spot where Spanish explorers found gold in 1818. The Welsh were surprised to find dozens of Cherokees from Oklahoma working the placer deposits here, whereupon they named the area after them. The legend states that a teacher of the Cherokee Reservation from Maine, a Sol Potter, left for California when he heard about the discovery of gold, and took a large band of Cherokees with him.
In 1866, Cherokee was the site of the first diamond discovery in the United States. Though there was a famous story of a 2-carat diamond being found in the crop of a turkey from Cherokee, most of the diamonds were said to be of only industrial quality. Rumors however are more interesting. Legend states that several diamonds were of high quality and that when investors were collected, in effect the DeBeers Company of South Africa bought them out, claimed the diamonds were inferior product, and closed the mine. It has never been reopened.
The assay office of the Spring Valley Hydraulic Gold Company is seen here, with its large vault. Threatened with demolition by Bank of America, which owned the property, the ruins were purchased by Jim Lenhoff, a local historian, who also runs the local museum.