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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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BELL GOLD MINING COMPANY. In 1876 a group of prominent Dubuque residents established a company to mine gold in Plumas County, California. These citizens included Cornelius BAYLESS, J.C. PAINE, and Robert W. STEWART. The property of the company in Plumas County consisted of approximately seventy-five acres of mining ground. By 1870 three mines had already been discovered and examined. The prospectus stated that experts who examined the mines had said they were worth $150,000.

The company was named for the Bell Ledge which was discovered in California in 1873. According to the prospectus, this ledge was the source of deposits in Betsy's Gulch in which "rich surface deposits of quartz gold have been found in years past." Between 1852 and 1879, the prospectus claimed at least $750,000 had been washed from the ravine.

On June 29, 1878 the Plumas National, a newspaper published at Quincy, California near the Bell mines reported:

          Last Saturday one of the richest deposits of quartz ever
          found in Plumas was struck in the upper level of the Bell
          Mine, near Elizabethtown...the rock is so rich that it is
          impossible to find a piece from the vein that does not
          show free gold, and the vein is ten feet wide, and showing
          better every day. (1)

In January 1879, the 1,062 shares represented were used to elect directors of the company. Those elected included Robert W. Stewart, Hugh CORRANCE, George WOOD, G. B. Rand, J. C. Paine, D. L. Oliver, Cornelius Baylies, R. Z. Bell, and F. E. Moser. (2) In 1879 additional shares of stock were advertised for sale. The proceeds were to purchase needed equipment. A Mr. Bell and a Mr. Cragin were said to have sold ten thousand shares in Chicago at $2.00 each, according to Joseph A. RHOMBERG. It was stated, however, that the company wanted to keep the primary ownership in Dubuque. Specimens of the gold-bearing quartz were displayed at the BAYLESS BUSINESS COLLEGE. (3)

In May 1879 the Dubuque Herald carried an article that the mine was averaging a clean-up of gold valued at eight dollars per ton of material mined. This equaled a profit of five dollars with the remainder necessary to keep the mine in operation. (4)

In January 1880 at the annual meeting a report somewhat less encouraging than previous announcements revealed that when the present board took over the company in 1879 there was a debt of $8,000. This had been paid and there was now a surplus in the treasury. Work had been discontinued in the spring of 1879 due to a lack of funds, but it had now been resumed. (5)

A gold brick measuring 3.75 inches long, 2 inches wide, and .25 inches thick weighing four pounds and four ounces and valued at $1,000 was received from the California mine in Dubuque on July 24, 1880. Mr. Bell telegraphed Mr. Bayless, "Hold stock at $10.00, struck it richer than ever. (6)

In November, 1882 Patrick J. QUIGLEY traveled to California to represent the interest of the investors. He reported his inspection of ore and finding gold in quantities worth mining. The company was also actively pursuing government patents on all their claims. (7)

Company stock. Photo courtesy: Mike Vandermillen
The Dubuque investors in the Bell Gold Mining Company were interested in purchasing stock in the Imperial Ledge Gold Mining Company located in Plumas County. While the Bell Mine yielded spotted quartz worth $75,000 per ton, the quartz from the Imperial ledges was "even" and therefore more valuable. (8) No record is known of the mine being purchased.

In January 1895 officers of the company were elected in Dubuque. The Bell Mine was currently leased with a privilege of purchase. (9) The last record of an election of officers was on January 15, 1897. (10)

In 2016 there was a mention of a Bell Gold Mining Company in Plumas County, California and its land status was unknown. (11)



1. "The Bell Gold Mining Company," The Daily Herald, July 10, 1878, p. 4

2. "Bell Gold Mining Company," The Daily Herald, January 15, 1879, p. 4

3. "Bell Gold Mining Company," Dubuque Herald, February 18, 1879, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18790218&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

4. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, May 20, 1879, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18790520&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

5. "Bell Gold Mining Company," Dubuque Herald, January 15, 1880, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18800115&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

6. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, July 25, 1880, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18800725&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

7. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, November 29, 1882, p. 4

8. "A New Enterprise," The Dubuque Herald, January 28, 1885 p. 4

9. "Bell Gold Mining Company," The Dubuque Herald, January 11, 1895, p. 4

10. "Bell Gold Mining Company," The Dubuque Herald, January 15, 1897, p. 8

11. "Plumas County, California Mines," US-Mining.com. Online: http://www.us-mining.com/california/plumas-county