Did you know that the first documented discovery of gold in California happened in 1842? The discovery was made in a place called Rancho San Francisco, located in Southern California. As the legend goes, Francisco Lopez was resting under an oak tree and fell asleep. While he was sleeping he dreamed that he was floating in a pool of gold. When he woke up, he pulled some wild onions out of the ground and found flakes of gold in their roots! The tree he sat under still exists, it is a California Historical Landmark and called the “Oak of the Golden Dream”.
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The discovery of gold at Rancho San Francisco happened about six years before the larger Californian Gold Rush in 1849. While the legend likes to romanticize the situation and paint is a fortunate event, Francisco Lopez had knowledge of mineralogy and was using that knowledge to search for gold deposits.
While the news of the discovery of gold remained in the, then, Mexican territory, the news did cause a small ‘gold rush’. About 2000 people came to mine the gold from other Mexican territories. During the Mexican-American war, the mine was destroyed to prevent it from coming under control of the United States government.
Most of the modern city of Santa Clarita lies within the boundaries of Rancho San Francisco.