Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Sutter's Fort as "First" Calif. Gold Discovery Site
Error Postcard 1905

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Error postcard: "Sutter's Fort, near Sacramento, where Gold was first discovered in California, 1848." Britton & Rey, Lithographers, San Francisco, 1905. (This example is postally unused, but we've seen a 1905 cancellation on another example of the same postcard.) Penny postcard; foreign 2 cents. Back is blank except for indicia, "Post Card" and "This side is for the address."

As every Santa Clarita Valley fourth grader learns in school, the first documented discovery of gold in California occurred in Placerita Canyon in 1842, six years before James Marshall found gold in the raceway of John Sutter's sawmill on the south fork of the American River.

We don't know exactly how or when the myth of Sutter's Mill being "first" got started; apparently somebody missed the reports of the Placerita discovery in the American newspapers during 1842 as seen here.

It's doubly absurd because Sutter and his cohort John Bidwell observed the Placerita gold mining operations in 1845, fully three years before their own discovery. They stopped and watched in Placerita on their return trip north (on horseback) after being imprisoned in the San Fernando Valley for taking the wrong side in an insurrection mounted by ex-Gov. Juan B. Alvarado against his successor, Manuel Micheltorena.

To our knowledge, Sutter and company never personally said they were first. They knew better.

So did many old postcard issuers. Check out this one.

LW2551: 19200 dpi jpeg from original postcard purchased 2013 by Leon Worden.
• California Gold
• Lopez Discovery
• Placerita Post-Lopez
• San Francisquito
• Oak/Dream Dedication 1930
• Oak/Dream



Dissecting the Dream: Fact, Fiction & the Golden Oak, by Alan Pollack


New York Observer 10-1-1842


U.S. Treasury Voucher 1843


Abel Stearns Letter 1867


Francisco Lopez
• Baptism 1802

Pedro Lopez (Brother)
• Baptism 1805

Maria Felis (Wife)
• Baptism 1800

Maria Concepcion (Daughter)
• Baptism 1823
• Death 1825

Francisco Ramon (Son)
• Baptism 1825

Catalina (Pedro's Daughter)
• Baptism 1831

Francisco Garcia's Story 1896

Francisco "Chico" Lopez Obituary 1900


As Told by Jose Jesus Lopez


Sutter's Fort Error 1905


Prudhomme 1922


Engelhardt 1927


Francisca Lopez de Belderrain


Belderrain Story 1930


Who's Who, by Belderrain

• Story: Sutter, Marshall Knew They Weren't First

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