PC = "Postcard"
This is a real photo postcard probably copied from two daguerreotypes taken sometime in the 1860s, rather than the 1850s as stated on the card. The St. George Hotel is visible at the far right, and it was constructed in 1863.
A short history of Volcano from www.malakoff.com:
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.
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.
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.
The surface gravels paid handsomely, and to the miners’ surprise, the claims seemed to get richer the deeper they went. Men picked out large nuggets with only their fingers as tools; the diggings were easy. Until they hit a layer of disquieting yellow clay. Sure, there was gold in the clay, but it was almost impossible to get out. Discouraged, several claims were abandoned which later turned out to be worth fortunes when methods of separating the gold from the clay were discovered. Boiling was found to disintegrate the clay, so boilers were built to steam out the gold. Another method was to let the clay dry in the sun, afterwhich it was an easy matter to pound it to dust and extract the gold. One miner is reported to have taken out $8,000 in only a few days, another took out twenty-eight pounds from a single pocket. With returns like these, it’s easy to see how the region produced the $90 million credited to this area.