Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Spanish Caballero Credited With First Discovery In California on Ranch Near Newhall

Click image for full view | Original caption reads: Long hidden by soil and brush, a mound of granite boulders believed to have been erected 87 years ago marking the actual site of what is declared to be the first discovery of gold in California in 1842 has just been uncovered in Placerita canyon near Newhall. This historic monument and the interesting canyon are having unique appeal to touring motorists, reports the Automobile Club of Southern California.

A mound of granite boulders marking the actual spot where gold was first discovered in California has just been unearthed, after being covered with brush and debris for 87 years, in Placeritos Canyon, near Newhall, about 22 miles northwest of Van Nuys.

The monument on the site of the first gold discovery on March 9, 1842, by Francisco Lopez, a caballero and cattle rancher of that period, was uncovered by F.E. Walker, owner of a ranch surrounding the canyon.

After clearing the ground around he notified the Native Sons of the Golden West which, with other civic clubs co-operating, caused the placing of temporary bronze placques [sic] upon the mound and an aged oak tree nearby to commemorate the finding of gold.

The association also planted three trees about the site during the dedication ceremony, and plans to erect a magnificent, permanent monument of granite in the near future.

Indisputable documentary evidence assembled serves to refute definitely the claim of historians and the belief of most Californians that James Marshall's gold discovery at Sutter's Mill in 1849 was the initial finding in California. The honor belongs to Southern California and Don Francisco Lopez, descendant of an early Spanish family.

The discovery by Lopez makes dramatic history. While on a ride over the vast San Francisquito Rancho to inspect his stock, he paused for nourishment and a noon-day siesta in a shady spot beneath an oak tree. His servant served lunch after which Lopez stretched out and fell asleep.

For this reason the oak, which is now believed to be the oldest in Southern California and approximately five hundred years in age, has been titled “The Oak of the Golden Dream” on the placque [sic] placed on its trunk.

Upon awakening he recalled a promise to his wife that he would gather some wild onions. Walking to the nearby bank, he pulled one and curiously gazed at some yellow particles clinging to the roots. Hopefully and hastily he dug into the soil and found it thickly filled with gold.

Rushing back to the ranch, Don Francisco and his family celebrated their good fortune. The event was duly recorded and in the following year Lopez made a second discovery. Several other findings followed in this section and historians estimate that between $80,000 and $100,000 were gleaned from the mines of the Placeritos during the first two years alone after the discovery.

• California Gold
• Lopez Discovery
• Placerita Post-Lopez
• San Francisquito
• Oak/Dream Dedication 1930
• Oak/Dream

Placerita Canyon 1930

Belderrain Affidavit 2-23-1930

Walker Affidavit 3-1-1930

Event Program 3-9-1930

Rivera's Speech 3-9-1930

Sen. Del Valle's Speech 3-9-1930

Perkins' Speech 3-9-1930

Dedication 3-9-1930

Dedication 3-9-1930

Tree Plaque 1930

Lopez Plaque 1930 x2

Van Nuys News 4-25-1930

Correspondence 1934

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