Auburn History

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Old Train



There is evidence to suggest man's presence in the Auburn area dating back to 1400 B.C. However, the first known people were the Nisenan, an offshoot of the Maidu Tribe. There is documentation of well established villages in Auburn. The Nisenan, living in the midst of what would become the heart of the Gold Rush, were eventually pushed out of their land within two to three years of the discovery of Gold in Coloma, a Nisenan village called "Cullomain."


Auburn 1852It wasn't until the 1840's that the first Euro-American settlers, hunters, trappers and fur traders appeared in the Ravine. They were soon followed by explorer/surveyor John Fremont in 1843 - 44, John Bidwell in 1844 - 45 and Theodore Sigard in 1845. As the first settlers started appearing in the early wagon trains, a young Frenchman named Claude Chana came west settling in at Sigard's Ranch on the Bear River.


Flume in the Auburn Ravine



Chana, still at Sigard's Ranch, learned of Marshall's discovery at the Sawmill in Coloma and set out with a party to try his luck. On May 16, 1848 Claude Chana found gold in the Auburn Ravine. By April 1849 North Fork Dry Diggings had become a well established mining camp. The camp went by many names including Rich Ravine and Wood's Dry Diggings of Auburn Ravine. In August of 1849 the camp was officially named Auburn. Because Auburn was just a wagon trip from Sacramento, centrally located in the gold country and just below the snow line it became known as the "Jumping off" spot for the miners. However, it was on May 13, 1865 when the Central Pacific Railroad officially made Auburn one of its stops that Auburn truly became a city. By the turn of the century the population of Auburn was a little more than 2,000.


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