In 1855, the miners in Gold Canyon had their best year, to that date. About 200 miners dug up an estimated $100,000 in gold.
Thereafter, the collective annual earnings declined. By 1857, this decline had spurred some miners to prospect upper Gold Canyon and the adjacent areas.
They looked for gold-bearing gravel, which experience had taught them they would find in canyons, but not on plateaus or level ground. The ‘one ledge theory’ then popular in California held that all gold nuggets and flakes came from a single source and were washed downhill by the passage of water in rivers and creeks, and during spring run-offs.
Some of the miners explored and dug in what would soon be named ‘Six Mile Canyon,’ but no sites of great value were turned up. Few of the men there were able to dig up more than $4 worth of gold in a day, and that not on a regular basis.
The first bonanza (good weather or good fortune) was over; the first borrasca (squall weather or bad fortune) had begun.