Tag Archives: Keyesville Massacre
Keyesville, CA is located about 2 miles up Keyesville Rd. from its junction with California Highway 155 at Lake Isabella dam.
In 1852 a half-Cherokee ’49er named Richard Keyes discovered gold at would be go on to become Kern Counties first established town, Keyesville. Soon after Keyes discovery, a Captain Matly discovered the Mammoth mine. Between these events and the discovery of placed gold in the Kern River, miners began to flock to the area.
In August of 1855 five arrastras were running, and two years later, 16 were in operation. Between 800-1000 men were employed by the mines.
The first stamp mill was erected in 1856. By 1858 three arrastras, and five mills with a capacity of 22 stamps was working the Keyesville gold. Both 1861 and 1862 brought flooding to the area, between the two floods much of Keyesville’s mining operations were destroyed.
During Keyesville’s peak the town site consisted of 5 or 6 stores, 3 hotels, 4 saloons, a brewery, two livery stables, a wagon-making shop, 2 blacksmith shops, a barber shop, 2 butcher shops, a shoemaker’s shop, express and post office. Many of the individual mines had their own boarding houses and saloons.
On April 19, 1863, the Keyesville Massacre took place not far from the townsite. White settlers and the 2nd California Volunteer Cavalry under the order of Captain Moses A. McLaughlin launched an attack on the Tubatulabal Tribe and the Owens Valley Paiute. They killed 35 tribe members.
White miners began leaving the area in the mid-1860s as the high-grade placer deposits had become exhaused. Chinese miners mover in and worked the gravels in Keyesville into the 1860s.
A short resurgence took place in 1897. A 5-stamp mill was erected at the Keyes mine, and a 10-stamp mill at the Mammoth mine. Both mines operated on and off until World War II. The Keyes mine produced a total of $450,000, the Mammoth about $500,000.
One early era building remains at the Keyesville town site. It is on private property and can not be accessed. A number of private mining claims remain in place.