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|Our Journey's To Pilot Hill & Gold Country California 8/15/1
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|Author:||AngelOfThyNight [ Thu Sep 10, 2015 6:31 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Our Journey's To Pilot Hill & Gold Country California 8/15/1|
Our Journey's To Pilot Hill & Gold Country California 8/15/15
Every time I traverse the Sierra Foothills there is a sense of magic in the air. The difference between the foothills of California and Nevada is that these are less steep therefore you have miles of lower hills and back country. In Nevada they are very steep and after a few miles your already up in the high sierras.
Gold Country is a very special place it is full of old boom towns, miner cemeteries, historic ranches and structures that date back to the times of the gold rush days. I absolutely love the Pilot Hill, Coloma and Placerville area. This is the first region in California where gold was discovered which led to the gold rush boom.
As some of you are aware we work with all sorts of paranormal topics this trip was more directed at ghosts of the gold rush. Whether we caught anything will remain to be seen allot of times most places we visit are fairly quiet that does not mean time to time we do not get a good EVP, photograph or credible EMF Gauss readings.
I use to do allot of my investigations at night years ago but by doing these during the day most of you get to physically see these locations and the scenery that surrounds them. But being on west coast is different then the east coast because these locations all offer so much beauty nestled in the foothills of the sierras in California.
Our journey would take us to the Cronan Ranch, Pilot Hill Historic Cemetery and finally Gold Bug Park. All three locations really go hand in hand. The American River area is something I hope to work with often the last time I was out in Pilot Hill we visited the very haunted Bayley Mansion and toured Coloma. Both are locations I hope to work with more in the future.
We would stop for breakfast in the morning then do our drive through the foothills which traverse the lower sierras for over twenty miles. This is what makes them so beautiful is that driving through them is a journey one filled with many gems and smaller communities. In this case one of those gems would be the Cronan Ranch which remains hidden along the American River.
You would never have known this place even exist back in the foothills the woods are very dense and its nothing but countryside. Many of the roads back here are dirt roads and people live very far apart. On occasion you might come out to a vista point but for the most part its nothing but curvy roads through the woods.
When we arrived we parked at a cattle loading area this ranch dates back to the mid 1800's. I chose it for a number of reasons because it does connect with other locations we have done here such as Coloma and the Bayley House. You needed such ranches they were vital in the gold rush to provide local towns with livestock, meat and produce for the miners.
It was already heating up summers in this regions are brutal its hard to believe that so many pioneers came to this area to cool off because I sure did not feel it lol. Then again their is areas with shade and when we begin our hike through the hills whenever it became to hot I just went under a tree for awhile.
We learned about these yellow flowers that grow here I have not seen them anywhere else so I thought that was rather unique in itself. The one thing your going to notice is that whenever I go to different areas of the sierra mountains different types of trees and flowers grow in different parts.
When you hike around the ranch there are many trails they all go off in different directions some traverse over hills. Allot of mountain bikers like this place because of those hills and bike trails. We hiked down the main road that way I did not miss anything historic or get turned around back here.
Today the ranch is still active or at least a part of it as its a free range for sheep. We seen a few herds of sheep one of them was at least 120 to 150 sheep just running down the hill side. Its important not to get close to the sheep they are guarded by dogs I would find out this later on during our hike lol. In addition to the sheep there is quite a few large birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles that just circle overhead looking for small pretty constantly.
After probably a little over a mile you go up over this big hill then come down into this valley where this ranch looking complex exist. Its not really a ranch house or barn but rather a movie set. I had no idea because other sites were not accurate posting there photos or with the details of these structures. The set was designed for the movie called "Love Comes Softly" directed Michael Landon Jr. which boast what an early 1800's ranch would look like. The movie set is a little over ten years old right now pretty cool location.
There was picnic benches so we decided to have a nice break at the movie set while I did my thing. I did get some EMF readings here and take some EVP not sure why but the ranch is very old so you never know. The movie set is made to look very old but its not even though the wood is aged.
There was a ranch house,outhouse,barn,cabin and a few other collapsed wood buildings. The windows were all gone and it was deplorable. I am sure it was in better shape at one time but its not looking good. Allot of the wood is broke,boards on the ground, brush growing around it and half of whatever was standing is on the ground. Granted this was a movie set so it was not built to last and so in a few more years nothing will probably stand. The curtains were sun bleached and blowing in the wind the place actually had a creepy look to it rather then something you would see in a Little House On The Prairie movie.
After we enjoyed the movie set and resting under some old cottonwood trees we headed once again on the trail. There was a dry creek we came across we seen a bunch of cattails but no water just as the hillsides were brown. That was my only regret is that I should have came in the Spring because the ranch during this time is very green and full of wild flowers. But in August with the lack of rain and intense heat everything is brown even some of the trees were already losing leaves.
On our journey we went through some wooded areas but for the most part the hike is very grueling due to the lack of shade. Most of the trees reside further back up on the hillsides not near the old wagon road so your very exposed to the sun. We also seen something movie in the brush its hard to say what it was maybe a bobcat or something. The wildlife does not like to stick around to long due to the herding dogs that guard them. If you really pay attention when hiking around the area you can hear the American River flowing from afar as its a very quiet peaceful location.
We would hike down to the American River now there are multiple ways to reach it and trails. We decided to veer off to the south then go into the woods descending down on the river. We found this private little opening in the woods along the river where my kids could swim and we could have lunch at. Someone nearby however was shooting there shotgun like crazy which became a little annoying. I seen about four Kayakers braving the white water although the rapids were not to strong there were areas that were moving along.
There is allot of wild berries that grow back here in along the river enough to sustain bigfoot, bear or even humans for that matter. One can see why the Mormons and early pioneers of the gold rush spent some time camping on the river in the 1800's at this location. They had water, berries and an abundance of wildlife that they could hunt for if they needed to eat. I also went into the water for a dip the river was low but still at this location it was at least 75' across to the other side with some exposed areas of land you could walk out to.
Our hike back was rough the water cooled me down but I became over heated because by the afternoon the sun was out at full force. There was no other water along the way most seasonal creeks run dry and the river was facing our backs. Every time we found a tree we would rest under it at one point in time one of the trees had a snake coiled on up.
By this time of the day the sheep were spread out everywhere no longer in herds. I had heard hollowing thought hey maybe coyotes or wolves but it was actually the canines guarding the sheep. Some of the sheep were high up on the hills cooling off under trees. I seen this one sheep from afar thought it was a deer had the sun in my eyes. As I begin to stop and take video one of the guard dogs came running at me lol. He did not attack but he was coming and trying to scare me off even though I was on the trail so for those who come up here to sight see just make sure you do not stick around to long to take photos.
I was pretty happy to see the jeep and fill up on ice cold drinks it was about 102 degrees. I brought the cooler so it was loaded with all sorts of food and drinks. I like to make a day of it when it comes to our investigations even if we do not find anything paranormal I operate a para-adventure urban exploration type of site so this will make a nice addition and give you a look into the sierra foothills first hand. I have heard of allot of UFO and Bigfoot sightings in the foothills which sounds very reasonable considering how vast, remote and woodsy they are anything could hide back here I know the sheep did later on during the day.
Our last stop would be at the cattle loading area where I seen a lizard on a fence. You know its hot outside when the reptiles are coming out to sunbathe. I loved the ranch I just wish there was more history to see. I read somewhere there are some old outhouses but I never seen any. There are allot of trails including a ravine, big hills, big valleys and creeks. This was a big ranch at one time and an old one. Its strange how the original Bacchi family sold it in the 1800's and today they purchased it back making use of this land. I wish there was more wildlife on this trip but due to drought its definitely not the ranch the pioneers once knew.We then would head on off just a little ways down the road from here to a place known as Pilot Hill Cemetery.
Pilot Hill Historic Cemetery
If you head north down this woodsy road away from the ranch you will come across the old Pilot Hill Cemetery. Its not a very well visited location and it might just be one of the last remnants of the old early mining gold rush and ranching towns of Pilot Hill. Today most of the area contains more modern homes and most of the history of this location is long gone except to the large mansion on the hill known as the Bayley House and this very graveyard we visited.
The mansion that is up the road is a haunted site it dates back to the mid 1800's as it contains two ball rooms, wine cellar as it made with over 100,000 bricks. The cemetery sits between the mansion and the Cronan Ranch so it had to be done because it goes with our research that we been conducting in the Pilot Hill area.
When you reach the front entrance there is a bit metal sign being supported by two poles and a gate. The fencing is a bit tacky this burial ground deserves a nice wrought iron fence not something you keep the chicken in a coop with. On one side of the cemetery was a ranch the other side a ranch house so its not entirely a desolate burial ground like some of the other ones we visit in the wild west.
Towards the center back of the cemetery is a massive oak tree its a very notable feature. Then again most of the cemetery is very shaded. We heard a CB radio going off the entire time we were in the cemetery. I kept thinking there was a cop parked out near it but we never found out where it was coming from. Maybe the fire department which is about a quarter of a mile down the road was probably the culprit.
The cemetery is not in good condition many of the graves are broken in half, leaning against trees, toppled on the ground, held up by other stones and even in one case a wrought iron enclosure had a bunch of bars that were bent in all directions. As a matter in fact the wrought iron bars were spread apart so wide it look like the hulk was breaking through. I am not sure how someone did this or was strong enough to do this it surely to me is a mystery. Other wrought iron enclosures were in very decent shaped but seem to have been missing some graves within.
The big story with this place is there are allot of angel statues that are placed all over the cemetery looking down at certain graves. Some of them are broken, weathered and if you ask me a bit creepy looking. I found a few sea shells on some stones, broken glass and a few stones missing off its predators throughout. I also seemed to get very high EMF readings at these locations.
I had no idea but I did suspect that the Bacchi family was buried here the same family who started the Cronan Ranch in the mid 1800's for the miners of Coloma, Placerville aka Hang Town and Pilot Hill. It appears that the earliest pioneers who came to these foothills are found here although most of them ranchers and miners these people braved this unknown frontier.
It was not a very large cemetery maybe a 100 graves if not less but it will make a beautiful addition on our site. Many of the graves have beautiful epitaphs are etched with precision. Some of the stones are very large and a wooden gravemarker is leaning against a tree. The other wooden grave was made into a cross which is something I have not seen before. Its a bit of an eerie dismal place although wild flowers appear to grow everywhere throughout more so then the ranch up the road which seemed to be brown.
There were some family plots surrounded by old stone which moss grew on. There was a bench here held up also by stones and what appeared to be left over gravestones. Many of the stones were just missing that were surrounded by what appeared to be limestone walls or family plots. Near the entrance of the cemetery is a granite memorial with a husband and wife both were involved in politics in the region.
This truly was a serene wonderful cemetery was a bit taken by the vandalism here then again it does not surprise me. The Bayley Mansion is in similar shape at the top of Pilot Hill it just seems like anything historical does not seem to last very long here. This might be due to the fact its so close to the city of Sacramento as if you were to stand on Pilot Hill you could see the valley and city below.
Jarrod and I did this place alone but we found many different names that were relevant to the history in the area especially some of those who were affiliated with the Cronan Ranch up the road where we just visited. I like when I can put the pieces of the past together then when we put these locations on our site people get the full story not just half of one.
We were pressed for time and needed to make our way through the foothills to Placerville's Gold Bug Park. So it was time to leave Pilot Hill behind but we hope to return again. I especially want to check out more of the Bayley Mansion which is already on our site but I do believe there is more to see of that ranch.
Gold Bug Park aka Hang Town
The last time I tried to visit Gold Bug we just did not make it in time. Do not get me wrong I have hiked in the woods above Gold Bug and the Priest Mine. But I have never been able to actually investigate the mill, mines, historic sites or property. This is because this mining park closes very early and today its more or less a museum. I had to drive through the curvy roads of the sierra foothills which ate up allot of our time even through Placerville just to get here.
Those that are not aware of it literally when the gold rush begin days later miners begin to flood the canyon the park is located at today. When I arrived the creek was dry but back in the day they were pulling out thousands of dollars worth of gold nuggets shimmering on the creek bed which is known as placer gold.
The town was named Hangtown at the very location Gold Bug Park is located today. It was called this because as many as 1000 hangings may have transpired near Gold Bug Park at a place called the hanging tree. However I always felt that in the west they hung you wherever they seen fit so its quite possible that when the miners who came to this camp did wrong they were given a speedy trial and hung in the woods found in this canyon.
When I arrived here I did not have allot of time to do everything I wanted to do and if I did it had to be brief. Therefore we would start our investigation at the Gold Bug Mine. Keep in mind there are four mines two of them are sealed up and two of them are open to the public. However the Priest Mine which resides on the hill above the Gold Bug is limited as you have to schedule an appointment to see it.
The Gold Bug Mine sits behind the museum which boast all sorts of mining artifacts of the 1800's ranging from pick axes to ore canisters and various minerals. The museum to me was a bit small and besides everything they were showing off in it I have seen quite a few times on my investigations. As most of you know I visit allot of mines and ghost towns some of them abandoned so I always get a first hand look at relics of the past so I am no stranger to them. However there are some good historical reads found in the museum.
Behind the museum you can check out the mine its not the oldest mining operation found here but it is historic in every way. The mine is only a few hundred feet in length it had lights or lanterns lit. You could see wood stopes an other areas that mining was done. When you get near the end of the mine the tunnel continues straight or veers to the right. Both tunnels were blocked off with ore carts from proceeding further and a portion of it had ore cart tracks. I have seen ore cart tracks in some mines but not every one of them has these.
I happened to enjoy the mines they were in the 50's thus it was a well deserved cooling down that I needed. Nothing beats natural air conditioning and trust me it was very hot outside so I was dying to get in this mine lol. I mean granted it mines are great for EVP so I definitely focused on that as well. My kids were screwing around allot and everyone thought it was funny that my tall ass kept banging my head on the low ceilings. Back in the day if you were a miner you were thankful for being short lol
When we left the mine we walked the grounds if you tour the grounds there are some relics of the past such as an old dyke, wagon wheel, gold sifting machine, saw blade and a few other pieces of old mining history including another ore cart. But again you have to look there is also allot of nature in the canyon such as birds, butterflies and flowers.
If you take an off chute from the main canyon you can go up to the old Hendy Stamp Mill. This is where the gold was processed at once it came out of the mines. One of the caretakers was locking up but let me in briefly to snap a couple photos wish I had more time to look more into the mill. But he did show me a small stamp machine which resembles the large stamps that reside in the mill. The small model was very loud as they pounded up and down. I can only imagine how loud the original stamp machine sounded when it crushed the ore. I heard that the residents of Placerville could hear them back when the stamps were operable no less the smaller scaled model was still very loud.
There was also a mercury processing tube he showed me as some of you are aware they used mercury to separate the gold from the crushed ore back in the early mining days. I also seen a few guns in cases found inside the mill. Like I said though did not really get to take photos or video in the mill as I had planned but I do have plans to return here and work with Gold Bug Park more I just wanted to get some tid bits on our site to open up a case. Outside of the mill are some mining relics including a hydraulic iron jet or giant nozzle.
The road that the mill leads to gets gated so we had a minute to leave and I had to peel out of here. But we were far from done as I took my family to another historic site known as the Meagher House. This is a cabin that came later on when mining in the area tapered off. Its owner built it for his family while he ran his mine a few hundred feet from the home. That mine today has bars across the entrance but the home remains standing with a wrap around porch.
The large wooden house remains abandoned out back there is just piles of debris and junk. Most of the home is boarded on up. I heard they want to make this a nature center I would love to see them do this so I can learn about the different flowers and birds in the area. You cant go inside the house there is fencing around the porch which you can go up on but that is about it.
Something strange did occur here and I have no explanation for it. But there is a driveway with a locked gate in front of it. This driveway leads to the backyard where there is allot of junk including a collapsed storage shed. You cant move the gates they have a chain and a lock on them besides the fact that they appear to be unable to move when I pulled on the gates as if they were stuck in the mud. Yet the gate moved all on its own when my back was turned like something came flying through them hitting the lock and chain. I heard it and Tammy seen it. I went to investigate trying to pull on the gate it would not budge yet something with ease had no issue making the gate move.
I had gotten some mediocre readings here not sure if ghost were the culprit but the house in my opinion was more active then the mine or the mill. Maybe the Meagher family haunt the property its hard to know for sure. Everyone pays more attention to the museum, mill and mine but the house does not get many visitors. Unless you are aware of the parks history you will never even know the Meager House existed. The Meagher children use to hike, swim, roller skate on the veranda and explore the woods within the canyon.
Eventually we zipped back checked out this bridge which had no water under it because this creek no longer flows thanks to the drought. There is a picnic area which we decided to rest up at. You can picnic then do some nature trails around the park. Unfortunately they were getting ready to lock down the park so I did not get to hike. But I managed to do one small hike to the top of the canyon to the entrance to the Priest Mine which was pad locked. I hope to eventually explore this mine when I can arrange something with the caretakers. I been above the Priest Mine last year ago hiking in the woods above Gold Bug which also contain some old relics of the past if you explore them good enough.
I spent the last remaining amount of time checking out some gem panning area and sluice. You can pay to pan here I did not do so but its great if you have kids. I really want to see more I felt a bit rushed but at the same time this is a two part project and part two will look much more in depth into the park itself. My main goal was to check out the Gold Bug Mine which we did get to do and visit some of the sites found in this canyon. I do believe more remains to be seen and experienced here. Next time I go ill try to do an investigation of The Priest Mine.
All in all it was a strong day for us we completed The Cronan Ranch, Pilot Hill Cemetery and Gold Bug Park. In some way, shape or form these places all have connections to one another. Believe me a couple people who mined this canyon are found in the cemetery just as some of them received the goods ranched at the Cronan. This entire area has deep roots dating back to the 1840's therefore they all were intertwined with one another. Your looking at one of the richest gold mining areas that took place after the Coloma gold strike so this is a very relevant location to cover on our website.
After are hard days of exploring, hiking, research and investigating we went to have dinner at In & Out Burger. They have some of the best old fashioned burgers on the west coast and everything is made fresh. Its all natural therefore nothing beats a cold shake, fries and a tasty burger for the drive home. We try to always integrate a little fun into our trips and always will. These locations we visited in gold country may or may not be the most haunted of sites but for years to come they will provide an educational opportunity for the public to learn about the relevancy they played during the gold rush!
PS Reports are subject to change these are rough drafts that eventually get added to our website and finalized along with all evidence, media and research gathered!
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