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Spring Valley Mining and Irrigation Company Records MSS.015
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Collection Details
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  • Usage Restrictions
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Existence and Location of Copies note
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition note
  • Preferred Citation note
  • Related Archival Materials note
  • Other Finding Aids note
  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Scope and Contents note
  • Arrangement note
  • Material Cataloged Separately

  • Title: Spring Valley Mining and Irrigation Company Records.
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS.015
    Contributing Institution: California State University, Chico, Special Collections, Meriam Library
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 3.0 Linear feet 8 boxes
    Date: 1857-1937
    Abstract: The Spring Valley Mining and Irrigation Company was founded in 1875 as a result of the consolidation of earlier companies and mining claims. Hydraulic mining was carried on by the company until 1887. A. W. Mellon of Pittsburgh bought the company in 1900 and changed the name to Cherokee Mining Company. Neither Mellor nor later owners were able to separate the mines successfully. Included in the collection are deeds, mining claims and patents (1857-1891) correspondence (1884-1886, 1900-1901, no date) a payroll and expense account book, (1887-1888), and two maps (1867, no date).
    creator: Spring Valley Mining and Irrigation Company.

    Usage Restrictions

    No restrictions.

    Access Restrictions

    Collection is open for research without restriction.

    Publication Rights

    The library can only claim physical ownership of the collection. Users are responsible for satisfying any claimants of literary property.

    Existence and Location of Copies note

    Digital forms of maps available.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition note

    James W. Lenhoff

    Preferred Citation note

    Spring Valley Mining and Irrigation Company Records, MSS 015, Special Collections, Meriam Library, California State University, Chico.

    Related Archival Materials note

    Vintin Store Records, MSS 016, Special Collections, Meriam Library, California State University, Chico.
    Cherokee Mining District Records, MSS 017, Special Collections, Meriam Library, California State University, Chico.
    Lois Glass: a self-made man. By Mary Tharaldsen, Archival Research Seminar papers, MSS 193, Special Collections, Meriam Library, California State University, Chico. http://opac.csuchico.edu/record=b1485458~S5

    Other Finding Aids note

    Register of the records of the Spring Valley Mining and Irrigating Company / William A. Jones, Special Collections Librarian. Call Number: Z6601 A1 S67 1979 (Reference)

    Biographical/Historical note

    Spring Valley Ditch and Mining company was formed in 1862. Through land acquisitions and claim consolidations, Spring Valley became one of the largest gold mining companies at Cherokee. These changes in ownership of individual and corporate claims intertwine the history of the Spring Valley Mining and Irrigating Company with that of the other companies and of the area itself.
    Cherokee, located on Table Mountain, north of Oroville, in Butte County, California, became part of gold rush history in the early 1850’s when gold was discovered there. Miners arrived to work claims using rockers, long toms, and other types of sluice boxes to wash the surface gravel. Placer deposits were soon exhausted and miners began to dig drift tunnels to mine the rich gravel layers underneath. Because drift mining required more capital for operation than did surface mining, the miners began to consolidate their claims in order to finance their ventures.
    Another reason for consolidation dealt with the lack of water. The miners’ need for water, used to wash the gold out of the gravel, was a constant problem because Table Mountain did not have a live stream year-round. The miners, forced to depend on the winter rains for the necessary water, built a system of check dams and ditches along the stream beds to catch the winter rains. The amount of water caught was small, and as a result the working season was short, lasting only as long as there was water in the reservoirs. Even so, by 1857 most of the miners at Cherokee were conducting small scale hydraulic operations, that method of extracting the gold from the gravel being the most economical one. Large-scale hydraulic mining was precluded by the small quantities of water.
    A series of dry years in the early 1860’s made the need for a stable, year-round water supply for Cherokee a major topic of concern. Plans were discussed for bringing water from Concow by ditch, pipe, and flume, but capital could not be secured for such a large project. Because water was unavailable, many of the smaller operations closed down. Consolidation of groups of miners intensified and this led eventually to the formation of mining companies.
    One of the first companies to be formed was the Butte Table Mountain Consolidated Mining Company in 1856, headed by Charles Waldeyer. Ten years later, this company dissolved and became incorporated under a new name, the Cherokee Flat Blue Gravel Company. The aim of this corporate maneuvering was to obtain more working capital to create improvements and a larger water supply. The company water supply was still limited in its system of reservoirs on Table Mountain, and hydraulic operations could only be conducted during the winter, rainy season.
    About the same time as the Blue Gravel Company incorporated, a group formerly known as the Sugar Loaf Tunnel Company, claims held by William Gregory, Jenkin Morgan, M.R.C. Pulliam, Henry A. Moore, John Moore, David Gage, W.L. Howard, and Margaret McDanel, formed the Cherokee Mining Company, which became one of the major mining companies at Cherokee.
    Another consolidation was accomplished in 1869 by John Welch, who owned a small, rich group of claims. Welch incorporated his holdings to form the Welch Company, which was purchased in 1875 by the Spring Valley Mining and Irrigating Company.
    The Spring Valley Company recorded its history in Book 6 of the Cherokee Mining District Records, beginning on page 191, and traced its origins from the year 1862. In that year, the first of the companies bearing the Spring Valley name--the Spring Valley Ditch and Mining Company--was formed, with N.A. Harris as superintendent. In 1870, the company incorporated under the state laws of California as the Spring Valley Canal and Mining Company. Then in 1875, reorganization occurred and the company name was changed to the Spring Valley Mining and Irrigating Company.
    In 1870, Egbert Judson, a San Francisco millionaire, became involved with the Spring Valley Company, and his influx of capital enabled the company to construct the ditch, siphon, flume, and reservoir system that brought water from the Concow Valley to Cherokee, making large-scale hydraulic mining possible.
    At the same time the Spring Valley Company was constructing its ditch, the Cherokee Mining Company was working on a ditch to bring water to its claims from Butte Creek when, in February of 1873, the company merged with the Spring Valley Canal and Mining Company. On June 3, 1873, Cherokee Mining Company’s claims were renewed by, and transferred to, Spring Valley. To increase their water supply, water rights and ditches were purchased from Samuel Dewey of Inskip, giving Spring Valley a continual supply of water carried in a ditch system over 60 miles in length.
    As soon as large-scale hydraulic operations began, the problems with tailings and debris increased, resulting in the Spring Valley Canal and Mining Company being brought to court in 1873 by A.J. Crum, who claimed that his orchard on Dry Creek had been destroyed by slickens from the mine on Table Mountain. Crum lost his case, but the company began the expensive process of controlling debris which was a factor in the eventual closing of the mine.
    In 1880, Frank McLaughlin arrived in Butte County. He interested eastern capitalists in the Spring Valley property with the result that both the Spring Valley Mining and Irrigating Company and the Cherokee Flat Blue Gravel Company were purchased and merged into the Spring Valley Hydraulic Gold Company. The mine was considered to be one of the largest hydraulic operations in the world. Charles Waldeyer became the new company’s first superintendent. Electric lights were installed so operations could continue around the clock, and a new transportation tunnel was begun. The expenses of these activities caused the company financial difficulties; frequently there were delays in paying the men’s wages.
    Because of its debris control program the mine had managed to survive the anti-debris controversy, but by the mid-1880’s, this effort was forcing the company into insolvency. Louis Glass, who had replaced Waldeyer as superintendent in 1884, attempted to reduce the company’s indebtedness, but the financial burden of the debris control, in addition to the company’s other problems, forced the mine to close in the spring of 1887. However, the mine reopened in the winter of 1887 with William Gregory as superintendent. Gregory kept an account book for a year, beginning May 2, 1887, which shows that gold was still being mined, the levees and ditches maintained, and bills paid until August 6, 1888.
    The next twelve years saw the Spring Valley property leased to miners who conducted small-scale drifting operations and attempted to crush the hardpan layer for its gold. Anti-debris legislation made hydraulic mining impossible, so drift operations seemed the best way to leach the gold still present. Up to this time, at least $10,000,000 had been recovered by miners in Cherokee Flat.
    The Mellons of Pittsburgh purchased the property in 1900. Their Union Trust Company bought the property, which reopened as the Cherokee Mining Company with L.J. Hohl as manager. He undertook an extensive program of ditch, flume, levee, and dam repair and carried out hydraulic operations for one year. Because of an increasingly thicker overburden, mining began to look less than profitable, and demand was increasing for the power potential of the water rights. The Mellons sold these water rights in 1952 to Eugene de Sabla of the Valley Counties Company. Hohl continued to manage the mine for the Mellons until 1906. At some time during this period the mineral rights were bought by T.L. Vintin and the valley lands by W.P. Lynch. (Vintin had the right to overflow the lands with tailings.) Over the next several decades, attempts were made to mine the Spring Valley-Cherokee property, none long-term or successful.
    In 1934, L.J. Hohl reexamined the property for Alexander Logie and recommended digging new drift tunnels. Logie lost on the project and by 1937, when Norman Stines wrote his report on the property, was ready to sell. Stines considered that money was yet to be made on the Cherokee property; he estimated that at least $7,000,000 in gold could be recovered.
    Adapted from: Register of the records of the Spring Valley Mining and Irrigating Company / William A. Jones, Special Collections Librarian.

    Scope and Contents note

    The Spring Valley Mining and Irrigating Company Collection was formerly part of the Vintin Papers, found in the Vintin store in Cherokee, Butte County, California, in 1945. J.J. Madigan, Trust Officer, Bank of America, Chico, acting for the estate of Thomas Vintin et al., presented the Vintin Papers to the Library of California State University, Chico. In 1975, the papers were sorted and cataloged by James Lenhoff as a Community Research Project under the direction of the Political Science Department at California State University, Chico. The papers were ordered chronological arrangement.
    After Lenhoff presented the papers to the Special Collections Department, a decision was made to divide the papers into three separate collections. These collections are 1) The Vintin Store Records, 2) Cherokee Mining District Records, and 3) The Spring Valley Mining and Irrigating Company Records.
    The Records of the Spring Valley Mining and Irrigating Company Collection consists of land grants, deeds, correspondence, survey field notes, diagrams, reports, an account ledger, and maps. The content of that collection are separated into eight boxes.
    Adapted from: Register of the records of the Spring Valley Mining and Irrigating Company / William A. Jones, Special Collections Librarian.

    Arrangement note

    Series 1: Deeds and mining claims
    Box 1: 1857-1872 Box 2: 1872-1875 Box 3: 1875-1891
    Series 2: Correspondence Box 4: primarily to Louis Glass 1884-1886, no date Box 5: Correspondence to Charles Helman, and primarily L. J. Hohl, January 1900-December 1901, no date
    Series 3: Reports and notes Box 6: 1875-1880, 1937
    Series 4: Patents Box 7: 1860-1875
    Series 5: Journal Box 8: 1887-1888
    An index exists for an earlier arrangement of the collection. The item locations and names no longer correspond to the current arrangement.

    Material Cataloged Separately

    Maps cataloged separately: Plat showing the position of two reservoirs and connecting ditch of Spring Valley Ditch and Mining Company on the United States land surveys of 1867. Call number: G4363 B8 B5 1867 P5 (N.E. Cal) http://opac.csuchico.edu/record=b1579668~S5
    Map showing a proposed flume of Spring Valley Ditch and Mining Company on the United States land surveys of 1867. [cartographic material] Call number: G4363 B8 N2 1867 S6 (N.E.Cal.) http://opac.csuchico.edu/record=b2166110~S5

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Spring Valley Mining and Irrigating Company (Cherokee, Calif.) .
    Cherokee (Calif.) -- History.
    Gold mines and mining -- California.
    Hydraulic mining -- California.