Rush Creek History

A gold mine that just didn't pan out!

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Rush Creek had its heyday during California’s Gold Rush. Gold was discovered in 1848 at Sutter's Mill, just 125 miles north of Rush Creek. By 1849 hundreds of thousands of immigrants were flocking to California’s Gold Country in search of their fortunes. History tells us that the Rush Creek property was used for gold prospecting, mining and processing.

A trail for miners reached from Stockton and other areas of the Central Valley to the gold camps of southern Tuolumne County including Sonora, Chinese Camp, and Big Oak Flat. Prospects and mining operations dotted the landscape of the foothills around Rush Creek and Big Oak Flat.

Eventually wagon trails crisscrossed the area, and in 1874 the Big Oak Flat Road into Yosemite Valley was completed, passing through Crocker Meadow immediately southwest of the Rush Creek property. With the increased traffic, Henry Crocker built and operated “Crocker’s Sierra Resort”, which also served as the post office and social center for the region.

While the nearby Santa Maria mine was enjoying great success, the Rush Creek mine was not. In 1888, it was assessed at a value of just $500 for the mine, arrastra and house on the property. Ten years later the value of the mine was so low that the County Assessor dropped it from the rolls. You might say Rush Creek was a mining claim that just didn’t pan out!

Enter Thomas Jefferson Quimby who continued the quest for ore.  The mine was eventually abandoned for several years, and then claimed in 1911 by Thomas Knowles, who also had little luck finding valuable minerals at Rush Creek.  However, the old arrastra and other historic remains from the Gold Rush era still exist onsite at Rush Creek and in the neighboring forest.

Before Highway 120 was constructed in the 1960’s, the main road into Yosemite actually passed right through Rush Creek.  The upper road near Villas 4-7 is in fact that exact road.  Around the time Highway 120 was built, a guest house was constructed at Rush Creek to serve Yosemite visitors.  The guest house also served as a one room schoolhouse for the children living nearby.

We’re always on the hunt for more historic information about Rush Creek, so if you or someone you know has ties to the history of the area, we’d love to hear from you at