One of the fading plaques in Volcano, 12 miles upstream from Sutter Creek, tellingly calls it a place of ‘quiet history.’ Even though the little L-shaped village on the bank of Sutter Creek yielded tons of gold and a Civil War battle, today it slumbers away in remote solitude. Only a smattering of patinated bronze monuments and some characterfully battered buildings attest to Volcano’s lively past.
Large sandstone rocks line Sutter Creek, which skirts the center of town. The rocks, now flanked by picnic tables, were blasted from surrounding hills by hydraulic mining before being scraped clean of their gold. The process had dire environmental consequences, but generated miners nearly $100 of booty a day.