Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »

Santa Clarita, California

Oak of the Golden Dream

According to legend it was a nap taken under this tree that kicked off the California Gold Rush. 

Someone had to be the first person to discover California’s gold deposits and as the story goes it was a premonition received beneath this tree that inspired the first successful prospector. 

As the story goes, it was on a spring day in 1842 that mineralogist Francisco Lopez decided to take a leisurely nap beneath the tree now known as the Oak of the Golden Dream. While sleeping, Lopez had visions of being floated along a river of pure gold. When he awoke, he found that he was famished and dug up some wild onions, but discovered flecks of gold (whole nuggets according to some accounts) clinging to the roots when he pulled the vegetables from the ground. All visions aside, this was the first documented discovery of gold in the California region. After Lopez brought his gold to Los Angeles to be appraised, other prospectors began to smell the possibility of riches in the Western soil and the famous California Gold Rush was underway.        

The Oak of the Golden Dream is now an official California Historic Landmark and its gnarled trunk can still be visited in the Placerita County Natural Area. Come sleepy and you may just walk away rich.

Know Before You Go

State Route 14 or Sierra Highway to Placerita Canyon. East on Placerita Canyon to Placerita State Park.