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Prospecting - Coyote Hole

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Coyote Hole Miner

Coyote HoleThe Coyote Hole was named after the den of these common animals. Miners were trying to reach the ancient, buried river channels that held rich deposits. The shafts were as deep as 100 feet. Working inside the hole was the most dangerous type of gold mining, with frequent cave-ins. The gravel, dirt and gold hauled up by windlass, were then carried to a nearby stream for washing. Imagine the task when you're down there. You only have room for a small pick to break through the hard-packed dirt, clay and rocks. It was observed that: These coyote diggings require to be very rich to pay, from the great amount of labor necessary before any pay dirt can be obtained. Accidents frequently occur from the 'caving-in' of these diggings.

What Price Freedom?
One of the miners here is an African American. Many were brought to California as slaves, even though California entered the Union as a free state.

On the mines the Americans seemed to exhibit more tolerance of Negro blood than is usual in the States - not that Negroes were allowed to sit at table with white men, or considered to be at all on an equality. - anon.

Coyote HoleMany African Americans came to California during the gold rush, and some bought something very special for their families with the gold they found - their freedom. William Swain noted in his diary: There are Negroes here laboring for their liberty. On the Louisiana claim one is to pay $120,000 for himself, [and his] wife and child, and yet he is a free man here. His wife, like the wives of others, is held as a pledge of good faith.


Top: Coyote Hole,
Photo by Christopher Richard

Chinese Camp | Arrastra | Miwok Mining Site | Coyote Hole | Long Tom


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