Lost Treasure in El Dorado County!
© 2004 by Anthony Belli
What we know today as the Wild West with its robust and often violent history was sparked by a single event… When James W. Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill on January 24, 1848. This event became a corner stone in western Americana heritage. What followed Marshall’s discovery brought forth the greatest migration of humanity to the western slopes of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, marking the Gold Rush as a global event. So ask yourself, how many buried treasure cache’s, lost mines, old mining camps and ghost towns can be found in El Dorado County today?
The Kanaka (Hawaiian) people of El Dorado County were among the very first settlers to establish a town with permanent structures here, long before the 49er’s ever saw California. Like everyone else they manned the Gold Rush but worked as farmers selling produce to miners in Coloma. They named their town after the village chief, Kenao. To the Kanaka the place was known as Kenao Village, to the Americans it was called Kanaka Town.
One of the Islanders was a miner known as “Kanaka Jack.” Exactly when he joined his countrymen at Kanaka Town is unknown, however he was the last living Hawaiian at the village when he died at the County Hospital in 1912. For decades Jack had worked the Kanaka Jack Mine, along Irish Creek not far from town. Its location like that of the gold he’d cached for decades are secrets he took with him to the grave. Today treasure hunters still go in search of the lost Kanaka Mine and the secret cache of Kanaka Jack.