Situated on historic mining land since the 1850s, Blue Mountain Minerals was part of the gold rush near Columbia. While famed for gold, its real treasure was limestone and marble, used notably in a gold-adorned marble block for George Washington's monument, reflecting the area's rich mining legacy.
Mining Limestone in Columbia, CA since 1850
The land on which Blue Mountain Minerals is situated has a long tradition of mining activity. It first began to attract gold prospectors in the spring of 1850 following the opening of placer mines at nearby Columbia in late March of that year. While the area was not as productive for placer gold as was the Columbia basin to the south, the gravel deposits, overlaying limestone bedrock, still drew a great deal of attention during the years from 1850 to 1858. The limestone and marble quarrying industry of Tuolumne County probably dates back to the early 1850’s. An early example of this mining was the contribution of a marble block to the monument honoring George Washington. A block of marble four feet long, two feet wide and eight inches thick was cut and adorned with quartz gold specimens.
At Columbia’s 1857 Fourth of July parade the finished Washington Monument block was given a place of honor and then exhibited at the California State Fair held in Stockton before it was en route to Washington D.C. The block’s trip was interrupted when the clipper ship, named the Flying Dutchman, that was carrying it sank. In 1860, a salvage firm raised the ship’s cargo and the marble block was sent on to the monument committee. However, for some unknown reason, it was rumored not to have been incorporated into the obelisk.