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was W. C. R. Smith, rounded the point and found the entrance to a harbor which they believed to be the long-sought Trinidad. The Cameo was compelled to sail on account of the stormy weather, and proceeded to Point St. George, where she landed her passengers, unaware that the men in the boat had discovered the bay. The deserted men explored the bay, near the head of which they found a tree with the following inscription :
Lat. 41° 3' 32"
Dec. 7, 1849. J. Gregg. This was the record left by the other party, and proved the truth of their story about having seen the bay. Some twenty miles north of the bay they discovered a river entering the ocean, which they supposed to be the Trinity. They were on shore eight days and were nearly starved, when the Laura Virginia arrived in the offing and was piloted in by the hungry explorers, being the first vessel to enter the harbor. She was soon followed by the James R. Whiting and California. The California sailed for San Francisco on March 28, with news that the bay had been found and the Cameo supposed to be lost.
Late in March, Selim Franklin, C. E. Gordon, Captain McDonald and G. Chandler, with two sailors, left San Francisco in a whale-boat in search of Trinidad. Early in April they came to the mouth of Eel river, which they supposed to be the Trinity. The schooner Jacob M. Ryerson appeared a few hours later, and the two companies united in exploring the stream a distance of forty miles, finding deep water. A town was laid out, and some of the men went over to Trinidad to get goods that had been shipped to that point. Franklin returned from there to San Francisco to procure supplies and to advertise the new town, which he did by assuring every one that the river led direct to the mines, though he had no evidence of the fact beyond his hope that it was true.
A few days prior to this, however, Eel river had again been discovered and named. Samuel Brannan had fitted out the schooner General Morgan, commanded by his brother John, and, on the fifth of April, anchored off the mouth of Eel river; the Laura Virginia, which had left Trinidad, also coming to anchor there. Two boats, each commanded by a Brannan, entered the river, which they named Brannan river, followed by a boat from the other vessel, which was swamped in the surf, and Julius S. Rowan drowned. The Laura Virginia sailed north, and entered a fine bay, which Captain Ottinger named Humboldt in honor of the renowned traveler, and located the town of the same name. The Brannans explored the river some distance, and the next day crossed a neck of land at the front of a high bluff, which they named Brannan bluff, dragging their boat after them, and entered Humboldt bay. This they called Mendocino bay, after the cape not far distant, apparently forgetting to apply the name Brannan to it, also. They went to Trinidad, commenced to lay out a town there with R. A. Parker's company, quarreled about the division of the lots, and returned to San Francisco in disgust.
About a dozen men from the different vessels were drowned by the upsetting of boats in the surf, among whom were Lieutenants Bache and Browning, of the United States coast survey, and John H. Peoples, the man who had gone to the relief of the suffering emigrants on the Lassen route the fall before.
When news of the discovery of the long-sought bay of Trinidad reached San Francikce, there was great excitement, and vessels were at once advertised to start thither with freight and passengers. Nor were these enterprises confined to ventures by sea, for, even before the bay was found, parties had started overland for the Trinity mines, and when word was received of the discovery of the bay that many
had begun to believe mythical, a new impulse was given in this direction. Men went from all over the state, and by various routes, generally through Napa valley or up the Sacramento river and by way of Shasta.
After the discovery of the bay the geography of that section of the country was soon settled by the indefatigable prospector. The Trinity was discovered to be only a tributary of the Klamath, which stream was at first supposed to be Rogue river. Within a few weeks gold was found on the Klamath, Salmon and Scott rivers, and at the celebrated Gold Bluff, which caused such an excitement the following winter. The towns of Trinidad, Humboldt, Eureka, Uniontown, and Klamath City were laid out, and during that and the next season the whole northern portion of the state was opened up and added to the gold-fields of California.
HARRY L. WELLS AND W. L. CHAMBERS.
Notwithstanding that it has been mutilated on all sides and shorn of some of its richest mining and agricultural sections, losing in all about four times the territory now remaining within its limits, Butte county is one of the most prosperous and populous in the state.
It contains now 1,746 square miles, or 1,117,440 acres, of which a large portion lies in the fertile valley, the grain-field of California, while thousands of acres lie in the auriferous belt of the Sierra and have been yielding their millions of golden treasure for a third of a century. The land is divided into 552,960 acres of mineral land, 368,640 of timber, and 195,840 of agricultural. Many acres laid down in the map as mineral or timber are in reality fit for and much of them used for agricultural purposes, the total number of acres assessed in 1881 being 658,382, or more than one-half the county.
The county of Butte, so named from the Butte mountains, those specimens of the caprices of nature which once lay within its limits but now form a portion of Sutter county, and which have been previously described in these pages (see Settlement of the Sacramento Valley], is situated in the upper Sacramento valley, and lies between 39° 17' and 40° 9' north latitude, and 121° and 122° of longitude west from Greenwich. It is bounded on the north by Tehama county, on the east by Plumas, on the south by Yuba and Sutter, and on the west by Colusa and Tehama, to each of which, save the county of Yuba, it has contributed generous slices of its territory. Originally the Sacramento river formed its complete boundary line on the west, but now the river borders it but a few miles, the balance of the old boundary lying within the limits of Tehama and Colusa counties. Butte creek flows from the extreme northeastern corner of the county to the extreme southwestern, empting into the Sacramento river, and forming for a few miles above its mouth a part of the western boundary line. The Feather river, celebrated for the richness of its gold deposits, lies partly within the eastern portion of the county, branching within the county into three forks, each of which finds its source high up in the mountains of Plumas county. Honcut creek, a small tributary of the Feather, forms for a distance the boundary line separating Butte from Yuba county. Other small streams, tributaries of those already mentioned, follow their tortuous courses in every portion of the county.
Through the richest agricultural section of the western end of the county runs the Oregon division of the Central Pacific railroad, offering facilities for transportation that, combined with the great fertility of its soil and the waterway of the Sacramento river, have made Butte county the first in the list of grain-producing counties of California. The California Northern railroad from Marysville, in Yuba county, to Oroville, the county-seat of Butte, and the shipping point for the products of the foothills and mountains, has also played an important part in the development of the county.
Towns with their hum of busy life, fields of waving grain as far as the eye can reach on the vast plain of the valley, vineyards on the sloping sides of the sunny foothills, and rich mines of gold in the recesses of the timber-covered mountains—these are the general characteristics of Butte county, each of which will be specially considered in another portion of the volume.
Until the magic wand of gold was waved o'er the land, drawing hither in a wild, tumultuous rush thousands and tens of thousands of eager adventurers from the four corners of the earth, that portion of California now under our consideration was but little known, save to the rude natives who had called it their home for ages. A few land grants and settlements had been made in the valley, but the mountains that bordered it, robed in green and crowned with snow, were as yet trackless, and as perfect as when they were issued from the great workshop of nature.
Capt. Louis A. Argüello, by order of the governor of California, explored this region in 1820, passing up the Sacramento river and penetrating to Fort Vancouver, on the Columbia river. He was, heyond a doubt, the first Caucasian to enter the limits of Butte county.
As has been seen elsewhere (see article on the Great Fur Companies), trappers penetrated this region at least as early as 1828. The party of Jedediah S. Smith, in 1827, passed up the valley to its head, then over the mountains to the coast, and thence to Oregon, though it is by no means certain they were within the limits of this county. The next winter a party under McLeod, trapped the upper Sacramento and its tributaries, including, no doubt, the Feather river and Butte creek, and came near perishing on the McLeod (McCloud) river that winter, which stream then received, and has since borne the name of that unfortunate leader. It is, then, extremely probable that the first representatives of English-speaking nations to view the flower-carpeted valley and pine-covered mountains of Butte county, were a party of American trappers, led by Jedediah S. Smith, or a party of Hudson Bay Company men, under the leadership of Alexander Roderick McLeod, in the winter of 1827-8.
From that time till 1845, when the Hudson Bay Company withdrew beyond the Columbia river, scarcely a year passed by without representatives of that vast corporation, or parties of American trappers, setting their traps in the streams of this region, camping beneath its noble oaks, and hunting the antelope, elk and deer that thronged the valley and mountains.
In the year 1838, the United States government sent out a fleet of vessels, under the command of Com. Charles Wilkes, on an extended voyage of exploration that lasted five years. In the month of September, 1841, a detachment of the expedition started on an overland trip from Vancouver to Yerba Buena (San Francisco), passing down the Hudson Bay trail and the Sacramento river. The party consisted of :
Lieut. George F. Emmons in command, Past Midshipman Henry Eld, Past Midshipman George W. Colvocoressis, Assistant Surgeon J. S. Whittle ; Seamen, Doughty, Sutton, Waltham and Merzer; Sergeant Stearns, Corporal Hughes, Privates Marsh and Smith ; T. R. Peale, naturalist; W. Rich, botanist ; James D. Dana, geologist ; A. T. Agate, artist ; J. D. Breckenridge, assistant botanist ; Baptiste Guardipii, guide ; Tibbats, Black, Warfields, Wood, Molair and Inass, mountaineers.
All this, however, 'tended not to develop the valley, nor to make it other than it then was, save by