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Petersburg, an Important Mining Area on the Salmon River

Between the 1850’s and 60’s, the former settlement of Petersburg, Calif., was the largest mining town along the 16-mile stretch of the South Fork of Salmon River between Abrams at Big Flat and Cecilville.

Built on a sunny gravel bar, it had a hotel, stores, saloons, a butcher shop, a blacksmith, a sawmill, corrals, and many residences.  Water from nearby gulches and ditches supported orchards and gardens. J. P. Jordan’s ranches at Rush Creek and Garden Gulch supplied fresh beef.

Others who ran businesses or pack trains through town included Arnold Nordheimer, W. P. Bennett and his partner Peter Miller, Kist and Davis, George H. Sightman, George Green Brown, George Wohlfert, Francis Abrams, and Thomas McGinnis Brown, who was the sheriff of Klamath County for 14 years.

A substantial Chinese community expanded at the lower end of Petersburg, the only section of the community to survive after the Salmon River Hydraulic Mining Co. closed in 1900. 

Several Chinese mining companies located near Petersburg, as well as above the East Fork. There also were Chinese operations on the South Fork of Salmon River, Matthews Creek, Cecilville and Know Nothing Creek.

Sources: Wells, Harry L. History of Siskiyou County. Oakland, D.J. Stewart & Co, 1881, pp. 196-97. Fiorini-Jenner, Gail L., and Monica J. Hall. Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams. Charleston, Arcadia Publishing, 2001, pp. 33-35.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.