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About the Region:
The American River was the site of the original gold discovery in California. On January 24, 1848, James Marshall discovered flakes of gold at Sutter’s Mill, located along the banks of the South Fork American River. Despite his attempts to keep the discovery quiet, work got out, and by the summer of 1849, hundreds of thousands of hopeful prospectors were coming to California from all around the world.
The river system is divided into three main branches; the North Fork, Middle Fork, and South Forks. They are located in El Dorado, Placer, and Sacramento Counties. The gold bearing parts of the river include nearly all of the headwaters that feed these main forks as well, which originate in the rich high country of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
There are literally thousands of miles of gold bearing rivers and streams that make up the American River drainage. Additionally there are many dry gulches and lode gold deposits that have potential for gold. While many of these deposits have been discovered and are actively being mined, many of them are long abandoned and now open to recreational prospecting. In addition, there are certainly some rich gold deposits throughout the Mother Lode that are yet to be discovered.