Mt. Ophir

Mexican miners found gold here in 1848, and reportedly recovered $217,000 in one week. In 1851, the Merced Mining Company started the Mount Ophir Mine and the town of Ophir was established. By 1852, Ophir had not only a post office, but also a 12-stamp mill, sawmill, general store, assay office, and blacksmith. In 1856, the town and post office name was changed to Mount Ophir, to avoid confusion with Ophir in Placer County.

In 1855 during a survey of John C. Frémont's Rancho Las Mariposas land grant, it was established that Mount Ophir was within its boundaries. In 1857, Frémont leased the land to Biddle Boggs. Meanwhile, the Merced Company continued to occupy the location and claim that Frémont held no mineral rights and a legal battle began. In 1858, the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Merced Company, but the following year during a rehearing reversed the decision and ruled in favor of Frémont and Boggs (a decision upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 1866). Little work was done until the Mariposa Commercial & Mining Company acquired the mine in 1897, operating it from 1901 until 1914.

Of particular note regarding Mount Ophir is the legend of a private mint, operated by John L. Moffat from 1851-53. Supposedly, this mint produced octagon-shaped $50 gold slugs, however there is no evidence to support the existence of such a mint aside from local lore. Moffat, however, was a stockholder in the Merced Company and the principal of Moffat & Company, which *did* produce the slugs at a private mint in San Francisco.

I Visited Mt. Ophir