This is the story of one community and two towns: Hammonton & Marigold, company-owned
dredger towns located 10 miles east of Marysville, California. Their founding was
a direct result of the gold rush of 1849 and the subsequent hydraulic mining that
followed. The towns’ history was wrought by the families who inhabited them and the
many men and women who would build their community together through the years. In
Hammonton and Marigold, there was no upper or lower class; the people were all working
for dredging companies and considered equals. Although the company towns were shut
down and the families all displaced, in 1957, the community itself carried on to
the present day, holding annual reunions and even publishing a quarterly newsletter.
Robert “Bob” Criddle Jr. is a third-generation product of two sets of grandparents
who settled in the two towns. The towns’ unofficial historian, he has received thousands
of photographs and conducted hundreds of oral history interviews with former residents.
Bob’s wife and coauthor, Ruth Criddle, plays an integral role in the publication
of these interviews and has authored a local ethnic cookbook herself. Together they
are ensuring that the story of Hammonton and Marigold’s community lives on for future
Smartsville and Timbuctoo (California State Landmark Nos. 321 & 320) are essentially
one place with two names. As worked-out claims and floods forced placer forty-niners
up from the sandbars into the hills above the Yuba River, and as word spread around
the world about gold in the California hills, towns and communities formed. The Smartsville
and Timbuctoo area was once the most populated place in eastern Yuba County. Black
Bart, Jim “The Timbuctoo Terror” Webster, and other desperadoes haunted the local
roads. Eventually fires, worked-out diggings, and the Sawyer Decision succeeded in
driving out all but the most dedicated residents. Neither town, though, is ready
yet for the dustbin of history; the population might once again explode – this time
not with gold seekers but with long-distance commuters, turning the former boomtowns
into future bedroom communities.
Authors Kathleen Smith and Lane Parker have collected images and stories from numerous
Northern California libraries, museums, archives, and from local residents and historians
to reconstruct the past of this unique place. Smith has genealogical ties to Smartsville
and Timbuctoo. Parker has been researching Timbuctoo since 2005.
The Yuba and Feather Rivers flank a rugged portion of the Sierra Nevada as they rush
south. Gold in creeks and streams here attracted thousands of treasure hunters who
panned, dug, or scoured the hills with hydraulic jets of water. At the height of
the rush, mule teams loaded with supplies and stagecoaches filled with miners passed
through every few minutes, heading from Marysville or Oroville to the high Sierra
camps. Thriving towns sprang up along the way, one boasting five hotels and seven
saloons. Later others came to log the massive pine and fir or make their home in
a land they valued for its beauty. Ten towns survive today: La Porte, Oregon House,
Rackerby, Strawberry Valley, and Woodleaf. Although siblings at birth, over the last
150 years, each has developed a unique character and charm.
Historian and publications editor Rosemarie Mossinger, author of several other books
including Woodleaf Legacy: The Story of a California Gold Rush Town, is the director
of the Yuba Feather Museum in Forbestown. Drawing from public and private collections,
as well as the museum’s extensive archives, she carefully selects and annotates the
photographic treasures that document this scenic and historic region.