Placer gold was discovered in Carson Creek in 1848 by James H. Carson, whose name was given to the creek, hill, and town. More importantly, in 1850 the rich quartz lode located on the top of Carson Hill was proven rich, and miners flooded in. By 1851 a large settlement of Mexican miners at the base of the hill was referred to as Melones. In 1854 the Calaveras Nugget – the largest mass of gold found in the U.S. – was taken from the Comstock claim and weighed in at 195 pounds troy.
As part of extensive historical studies conducted prior to filling the New Melones Reservoir, research was focused on the location and character of the town of Melones. This early gold rush town was to lend its name to later mining ventures, a Stanislaus River town, and a 2.4 million acre-foot reservoir. The results were published in Las Calaveras in 1979 and are provided here.1979 Oct Las Calaveras MELONES.pdf