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In remembrance of our state’s golden roots

Community: Locals gather for reading by the Oak of the Golden Dream for 169th anniversary sicovery

Posted: March 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Volunteer naturalist Judy McClure, kneeling, reads the story from the memorial plaque of gold being found at the site of the Oak of the Golden Dream on March 9, 1842, to a small group who took the guided nature tour at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center in Santa Clarita on Saturday.

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About 150 feet from two dozen SUVs and cars parked in front of the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, eight people gathered Saturday around a 500-year-old oak tree with a hole through its fat trunk.

“This is why you’re all here,” volunteer naturalist Judy McClure said to the crowd, pointing her hand at the oak tree. “This is why all the schoolchildren come here: This is the story of the first discovery of gold in California.”

Last week marked the 169th anniversary of the first recorded gold discovery in the state near The Oak of the Golden Dream.
That’s six years before gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Northern California.

On March 9, 1842, Francisco Lopez feel asleep under that oak tree and dreamt he found gold.

When he awoke, Lopez dug a wild onion out of the ground, gold nuggets were stuck to the onion’s root.

“I had always learned in school that gold was first discovered at Sutter’s Mill,” McClure said. “(Lopez’s) discovery started a mini-gold rush.”

The legend of “The Oak of the Golden Dream” is probably embellished: Lopez had degrees in minerology and geology from the University of Mexico and likely knew before his fortuitous dream that there was gold in the area, McClure said.

As McClure explained the history of the oak tree, the adults in the group stood listening intently and asking questions.

Duke Meyer, 8, sat cross-legged near the tree and poked at rocks and dirt with a twig.

It was Meyer’s first trip to Placerita Canyon.

His grandmother Annette Uthe said Duke had learned a lot on his trip to Placerita Canyon.

“He’s going to go home and tell his brothers about all the things he learned,” Uthe said. “They’re going to be jealous.”

Duke nodded his head in agreement.

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