The village of Rattlesnake is situated on a beautiful flat, on the North Fork of the American River, about seven miles below Auburn. It is located near Manhattan, Horseshoe and Rattlesnake Bars. The mines in the channel, banks and bars of the river were worked in 1849, and were exceedingly rich; and large numbers of miners flocked to that portion of the river to work during the summer and fall seasons, but left again as soon as the winter rains set in, and no permanent settlements were made until after the discovery of the rich diggings in the flat on which the village nosy stands ; which discovery was made by John C. Barnett & Co., on the 19th day of April, 1853. The first pan-full of dirt washed by the happy discoverers, after they reached the bedrock, contained $15 27. They then washed a bucket-full of the dirt, and obtained $20.
The discovery of these rich diggings in the flat created great excitement among the miners in the vicinity on the river, and at Auburn, Ophir, and other towns in the region found about, and hundreds of men were to be seen daily flocking to the place to secure claims. Many persons who visited the claim of Barnett & Co. would obtain leave of the company to wash out a pan-full of the dirt, and were often surprised to find a pan-full of the gravel to contain several dollars’ worth of gold.
The pay dirt in the flat was from twenty to sixty feet deep, and so extensive as to give employment to a large number of men. During the summer of 1853, the travel to and from the place was so great, that a stage line was started between it and Auburn, which ran daily, and did a good paying business. Substantial buildings were put up, and the place grew rapidly, soon becoming one of the important towns of the county: The location being one of the prettiest of any town in the county, it became the pride and boast of its inhabitants. Gardens, orchards and vineyards were planted, and handsome and comfortable cottages were built; showing that, if the people had not confidence in the permanence and. stability of the town as a business place, they were satisfied that by a proper cultivation of the generous soil they would receive handsome returns for their labor. The superior advantages possessed by the place induced many miners to cease digging for gold, and to become tillers of the soil.
The village of Rattlesnake, since its first rise from a river mining camp to the dignity of a town, has ever been considered of sufficient importance to keep up a post office. It is not, however, now considered a brisk business place, and has been gradually declining for several years, but still shows that it was once a place of greater pretensions than at the present day. There are several ditches that convey water to the mines, and those engaged at mining in the vicinity make average wages, there being a plentiful supply of water the year round.