Who the first men were to mine this region is not known for certain, but legend has it that among the earliest were members of Stevenson's Regiment who chanced upon the diggings in 1848. They found the placers exceedingly rich, averaging $100 a day per man, with some spots yielding up to $500. The claims in Soldiers Gulch were paying so well that no one took the time off from mining to build any kind of permanent shelter. So when the first snows began to fly, most of the men packed up their gear and headed for friendlier climes.
St. George Hotel, in continuous use since about 1863, is the second hotel by that name and fourth hotel on this site. Enter Here
A few of the soldiers; however, decided to dig in for the winter, undoubtedly hoping to continue working the rich placers and build up their stakes. But the winter proved cruel, and without substantial shelter from the storm or adequate supplies, the soldiers perished. Their bodies weren't discovered until several years afterward, at which time they were buried on Graveyard Hill.
Volcano Jail, built 1857.The tiny Volcano Jail seems hardly able to withstand a strong gust of wind, let alone hold dangerous criminals. Built in 1872, the secret to its success are the metal plates sandwiched in between the wooden planks which form the walls. The jail is virtually escape proof, and the story goes that its first prisoners were the men who constructed it.
With the melting of the snows and the opening of the trails, it wasn't long before the diggings at Soldiers Gulch were once again jumping. An immigrant named Jacob Cook came upon the valley in 1849, which he described as "a natural beauty spot, covered with leafy white oaks of immense size, and carpeted with grass, three to five feet high, having the appearance of an old English park." While the miners may not have noticed the natural beauty of the spot, blinded by their search for gold, they did notice the strange, burnt-looking rock formations and the fact that the camp seemed to be located in the crater of a huge volcano. Someone dubbed the place Volcano and the name stuck.
Old photos of Volcano
All graphics created and owned by Ray and Cheryl Herndon