Nelson Point - Portrait of a Northern Gold Rush Town

You won't find it on any contemporary maps. Not so much as a historical marker notes its location. A few building foundations are the only reminders that it ever existed. Virtually nothing is known about this colorful part of Plumas County history. Yet Nelson Point was one of the most significant gold rush towns of the northern mother lode. Now, through this detailed portrait of Nelson Point as the quintessential northern mining town, you can discover for yourself the fascinating gold rush experience...

An intimate, detailed account of the rough-and-tumble gold rush existence.

In a sense, this thorough history allows Nelson Point to speak for itself. Painstakingly researched contemporary diaries, journals, letters and other accounts, along with government and public statistics, provide the foundations for the volume.

Twenty-six colorful chapters provide intimate details of life in Nelson Point throughout its existence. Helpful appendices include integral statistics, such as Mining Locations and excerpts from the Register of Mines and Minerals, as well as exotic artifacts of the time, such as "Cock Fighting Rules." Plus bibliography, index and 49 rare illustrations.

It is a fascinating investigation of a period and a place that exemplify the rough-and-tumble gold rush experience.

One of the most miserable cut-throat looking places within the range of the mining regions.

Hittell's History of California, 1897

Some towns flourished, while others were destined for oblivion.

The California gold rush began with James Marshall's discovery at Sutter's Mill on the American River. Sutter's closest associate, James Bidwell, speculated that the Feather River might contain the same hidden treasures. He was right. In March of 1848 he discovered gold at the Hamilton Bend on the Middle Fork of the Feather. The rush quickly spread, and within a few short years tens of thousands of goldseekers would establish camps throughout the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada.

Mines of the Feather and its tributaries proved to be among the richest of the mother lode. Plumas County developed in the northern portion of the region. Some 188 principal locations were cataloged in the county; many fizzled, while others developed into thriving camps. Those that lasted evolved into towns which, when the gold played out, either survived on their own merits or were abandoned and left to fade into oblivion in the Sierra wilderness.

Nelson Point was one of those northern mining camps. Its evolution into one of the most prominent towns of the region and its eventual decline offer a virtual case study of the gold rush experience.

Though tranquility generally prevailed in the camps, violence regularly erupted. Often fueled by the consumption of alcohol, claim disputes generated much of the hostility. However, the occasional senseless act of violence was responsible for marking Nelson Point as a camp more hostile than most.

Ordering Information

Nelson Point Reviews

Mr. Matuszak has, through skillful narrative, woven together the fabric of history that is Nelson Point…His decade of devoted research has paid off in a rich treasury of Gold Rush fact and lore. This is not just a run-of-the-mill history…Matuszak brings to life the many varied characters who made Nelson Point the metropolis of the mines it once, however briefly, ruled. The weft weaves the twenty-seven descriptive and well-researched chapters together through tracing the thematic development of life in a mining camp, from politics to culture derived from written accounts, diaries, journals, letters, government and public statistics, Register of Mines and Minerals and historical photographs…This brand-new release is a readable, information-packed account of one of California’s "wickedest" gold camps is a must for California history buffs, researchers and students of Californiana.

Pat Gilbert, Sacramento History Museum

This piece is handsomely bound…and illustrated well. I like the mix of documents, photos, maps…the short chapters allow the reader to make only a short commitment of time to make his way step by step through the book…[Matuszak] relates Nelson Point to the wider themes of California history, such as travel to California in the 1850s and the ethnic dicrimination in the gold fields in the 1850s and beyond. I especially liked the chapter on the rare women of Nelson Point…Matuszak is to be commended for producing a work that will be useful to both present and future historians trying to make sense out of the gold fever craze of the 19th century.

Ward McAfee, Professor of History, California State University San Bernardino

Nelson Point is GREAT!

Jack Rose, Professor, California State University Long Beach

...solidly based on primary source research.

Western Historical Quarterly

...every aspect of life at Nelson Point has been explored…The book’s primary importance is the picture it gives of all gold mining towns in Northern California.

Lois H. McDonald,California HISTORIAN


For more information about Pacific Sunset Publishing or its books,
or to place an order, email David F. Matuszak at