Sierra Buttes Volcano Lake

Article by James Bridges shared from Auburn chit chat group on Facebook.

A brief history of the Sutter buttes

Did you know that we have an extinct volcano in our local area? 1.6 million years ago, in the pleistocene era, the Sutter buttes were one of the largest volcanoes in this area next to Mount Shasta. they are part of what used to be a long series of volcanic events that created the coastal mountains. Just have a good look at the picture. Clearly this is a volcano. Not nearly as large as its sister Mount Shasta, but at one time equally deadly.
If you were to come into California on a boat 1.6 million years ago, you would find a coastal mountain range that was on fire. The Pacific and northern plate had long been sliding past each other, opening holes in the crust. The resulting eruptions created this land. And those geological forces certainly never went away. The San Andreas fault is still quite active although it has moved across the land finally shutting down this once active volcano.

I have actually been to the top of the Sutter buttes. I went online and found that there is a road that leads to the top of the hill. It has a locked gate so you can’t drive up it and it is clearly marked with private property signs. But I was young and stupid and I walked up this hill with my friends to the very top. By the way, this is a really stupid move and I would never recommend anybody try the same thing. But what I saw up there amazed me. From the top of the buttes, you can see all the way across this incredible valley from all directions. You can see the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains rising in the east and can even make out the entire coastal range that runs straight down California. To the north you can see Mount Shasta, and to the South, the lowlands of the delta.
The top of this ancient volcano is filled with radio towers. They extend high into the sky and you will often see pictures of their incredible views on the news. I literally stood at the base of these camera. But I was breaking a lot of laws. There are motion sensors around all the buildings and cameras everywhere. Again, this was a stupid move.
On the east side of the Sierra buttes is a large extensive canyon that goes down for hundreds and hundreds of feet. From what I could tell, it was filled with all kinds of geological forces which created caves and crevices and pinnacles and rock formations that were Beyond description. This side of the volcano was a treacherous place. It is a place where you could easily get lost, break an ankle or lose your life. In the summer, it is also certainly filled with rattlesnakes. Likely timber Rattlers. The most dangerous of all. It had an incredibly wild and heartless feel. Raw nature untouched by man. It descended before me all the way down into the valley. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.
The Sutter buttes are named after John Sutter who received an extensive land grant early in California’s history. He owned this entire valley from Sacramento and all the way around the buttes.
In those days, thousands of Native Americans occupied this land. They frequently visited the Sutter buttes to hunt but because of the fact that this area frequently flooded in the winter time, they only came here seasonally. During the rainy season, the entire valley around the Sutter buttes would fill with water, oftentimes only leaving islands of land for months at a time. Early cattlemen lost thousands of cattle because of these floods. Their animals would often become stranded on these islands and have to be rescued if at all possible. Oftentimes they starved to death before the waters would recede.
The Sutter buttes also contain a number of natural resources, the most notable is natural gas. In 1927, the Sutter buttes oil company drilled a well 2900 below the surface of the volcano. But it wasn’t until 1932 that the first successful gas Wells were discovered.
Up until 1920 they were known as the Marysville buttes and then in 2003, Parks and recreation purchased 1700 acres around the Sutter buttes with the intent of creating a gigantic Park. But with recent cuts in their funding they gave up on this endeavor. In part because there was little public Access into the area. Further, there were land use issues because a lot of the land was also owned by private ranchers. Some of these ranchers have tried to supplement their income by giving guided tours. But few people want to take a two-day hike on a horse which is really the only way to get up in there. And that will only take you to the base of the buttes. So for now much of this land remains inaccessible except to a few.
So now you know the history of our long extinct volcano. The geological history of California has always intrigued me and learning about this piece of history only increases the fascination I have for Placer County. I hope the same is true for you. Next time you’re driving up highway 65, enjoy the Grand view of what early Spanish explorers called Los tres Pecos. The three peaks. Youtube.com/StevenSchoolAlchemyArticle by James Bridges shared from Auburn chit chat group. A brief history of the Sutter buttes

Did you know that we have an extinct volcano in our local area? 1.6 million years ago, in the pleistocene era, the Sutter buttes were one of the largest volcanoes in this area next to Mount Shasta. they are part of what used to be a long series of volcanic events that created the coastal mountains. Just have a good look at the picture. Clearly this is a volcano. Not nearly as large as its sister Mount Shasta, but at one time equally deadly.
If you were to come into California on a boat 1.6 million years ago, you would find a coastal mountain range that was on fire. The Pacific and northern plate had long been sliding past each other, opening holes in the crust. The resulting eruptions created this land. And those geological forces certainly never went away. The San Andreas fault is still quite active although it has moved across the land finally shutting down this once active volcano.

I have actually been to the top of the Sutter buttes. I went online and found that there is a road that leads to the top of the hill. It has a locked gate so you can’t drive up it and it is clearly marked with private property signs. But I was young and stupid and I walked up this hill with my friends to the very top. By the way, this is a really stupid move and I would never recommend anybody try the same thing. But what I saw up there amazed me. From the top of the buttes, you can see all the way across this incredible valley from all directions. You can see the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains rising in the east and can even make out the entire coastal range that runs straight down California. To the north you can see Mount Shasta, and to the South, the lowlands of the delta.
The top of this ancient volcano is filled with radio towers. They extend high into the sky and you will often see pictures of their incredible views on the news. I literally stood at the base of these camera. But I was breaking a lot of laws. There are motion sensors around all the buildings and cameras everywhere. Again, this was a stupid move.
On the east side of the Sierra buttes is a large extensive canyon that goes down for hundreds and hundreds of feet. From what I could tell, it was filled with all kinds of geological forces which created caves and crevices and pinnacles and rock formations that were Beyond description. This side of the volcano was a treacherous place. It is a place where you could easily get lost, break an ankle or lose your life. In the summer, it is also certainly filled with rattlesnakes. Likely timber Rattlers. The most dangerous of all. It had an incredibly wild and heartless feel. Raw nature untouched by man. It descended before me all the way down into the valley. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.
The Sutter buttes are named after John Sutter who received an extensive land grant early in California’s history. He owned this entire valley from Sacramento and all the way around the buttes.
In those days, thousands of Native Americans occupied this land. They frequently visited the Sutter buttes to hunt but because of the fact that this area frequently flooded in the winter time, they only came here seasonally. During the rainy season, the entire valley around the Sutter buttes would fill with water, oftentimes only leaving islands of land for months at a time. Early cattlemen lost thousands of cattle because of these floods. Their animals would often become stranded on these islands and have to be rescued if at all possible. Oftentimes they starved to death before the waters would recede.
The Sutter buttes also contain a number of natural resources, the most notable is natural gas. In 1927, the Sutter buttes oil company drilled a well 2900 below the surface of the volcano. But it wasn’t until 1932 that the first successful gas Wells were discovered.
Up until 1920 they were known as the Marysville buttes and then in 2003, Parks and recreation purchased 1700 acres around the Sutter buttes with the intent of creating a gigantic Park. But with recent cuts in their funding they gave up on this endeavor. In part because there was little public Access into the area. Further, there were land use issues because a lot of the land was also owned by private ranchers. Some of these ranchers have tried to supplement their income by giving guided tours. But few people want to take a two-day hike on a horse which is really the only way to get up in there. And that will only take you to the base of the buttes. So for now much of this land remains inaccessible except to a few.
So now you know the history of our long extinct volcano. The geological history of California has always intrigued me and learning about this piece of history only increases the fascination I have for Placer County. I hope the same is true for you. Next time you’re driving up highway 65, enjoy the Grand view of what early Spanish explorers called Los tres Pecos. The three peaks.

Sierra buttes map
Sierra buttes volcano in northern California.

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