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Buck Doft 01-26-2014 12:15 PM

1854 Plumas information
 
I have been remiss in bringing you up to speed on the 1854 “Plumas” ship wreck exploration. Nearby (about 200 yards ) is the 1843 pioneer cabin and grist mill sites of Peter Lassen. These sites have over shadowed the time on the “Plumas“. This with the difficulty of gaining physical access to this area has hindered the search. We have to come in by boat and then the vegetation is very dense. With that all said, here goes.

The “Plumas” was one of two early paddle wheelers lost on the upper Sacramento. The 1850 “California” was the other, in Butte county. All that was known is it was lost on its return trip from the town of Tehama it 1854. It was a smaller craft of about 55 tons .
An eye wittiness to the site, around 1950 or 1960, mentioned that scroll work decorated smoke stack was protruding from the site at that time.

The eyewitness location was plotted onto Google Earth and then overlaid onto 1850 survey maps to confirm that the location was indeed in the proper 1850 river channel. The location of the “Plumas” is on the Peter Lassen 1843 rancho and there is ample survey maps from the proper period to confirm that the ship rests with the 1854 river course. As with the “California’ the shipwreck site is a sink hole formed when the wooden part of the ship rotted and sank leaving the overburden of silt on top. The site in summer is shoulder high grass with an army of ticks guarding the ship. This winter the grass had died back, and the ticks moved to Florida for the winter. Unlike the “California” site, no clear shape of the ship has been ascertained. It was know that the “California” was in the river channel bow pointed down steam. The “Plumas” site is in a more circular shaped depression and we have not determined which way she is pointing. The site is on the inside of a bend in the old river course and would have been lost during high water. The Captain may have intentionally ran the ship aground on the slower moving water side of the river. The Captain was a well known and no ill effects to his reputation to the loss of the “Plumas”. This is rather unusual.

We searched the site for a limited time, with a metal probe. The probe is 4 foot sections of rod that screw together and at the 9 foot level, though out the site, we found a layer of something more solid, but could still push the probe though. At David Dewey’s advice we probed where the we thought the engines might me located. After about 6 attempts for the engines we hit something quite solid. I gave a very large push on the probe and a metal sound was heard and the probe would not go any deeper. At this time the probe’s first four foot section broke off . We are not certain if the metal sound was of us hitting a metal object or the end of the broken probe banging on each other. The day was short and time to get into and out of this area is considerable, so we had to stop.

It appears that we very well might have the site of the “Plumas”, but more searching is needed. A systematic probing of the area is needed next and that will take several days of field work to accomplish. I hope this paints a better picture of events on this search.

Any information or assistance would be more than welcomed.

Dave Freeman


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