Map of the United States, the
British Provinces, Mexico, etc. showing the routes of the U.S. Mail
Steam Packets to California, and a plan of the Gold Region.
This map was drawn and engraved by J.M. Atwood and published in 1849 by J.H. Colton. It shows relief, drainage, place names, Indian locations, railroads, trails, and steamship routes.
Inset maps include the "Gold Regions of California" and "South America". The illustration at the left depicts the recently discovered Pyramid Lake in upper California. The work portrays Capt. John C. Frémont and his party at the lake's edge.
Capt. Frémont likely traveled through the area during his second expedition to map the west and locate convenient railroad routes. Frémont's mappings of the west guided thousands of people in the late 1840's to Oregon and California. His reports and maps were used in the 1849 published work, "Emigrants' Guide to California", which was highly used by "Forty-Niners" during the California Gold Rush.
The California Gold Rush began in 1848 with the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill, in Coloma, California. As news of the find travelled, California saw a massive influx of people, and California cities boomed. Some of the earliest gold seekers were able to find gold quite easily, and were able to pull thousands of dollars worth out of the rivers daily. Capt. Frémont himself became rich from a mine he owned in the Sierra foothills near Mariposa.
However, as more and more gold seekers arrived, many more left empty handed. The effect that the Gold Rush had on the American west coast cannot be understated. With a population of 15,000 before the discovery, hundreds of thousands left their homes for the "Golden State", and the territory saw it's cities chartered, a state constitution drafted, and it's admittance to the Union in 1850.
There are several tales of lost treasure surrounding Pyramid Lake. There is a tale concerning Paiute Indian Johnny Calico who reportedly buried gold coins under a large rock at Pyramid Lake, and another story about a group of Paiute Indians abandoning two chests of gold coins, that they had stolen from a group of prospectors, at the lake's edge under a steep cliff.
As recent as 1916, prospector John Durkin purportedly found convincing clues to a rich mine in a canyon at the north end of Pyramid Lake. Brownish colored float rock at that location was found to contain valuable amounts of gold, silver and mercury. Durkin worked the site for some time, discovering parts of the float occasionally, but never finding the ore’s source.