Latitude / Longitude:
33°01′23″N 114°36′40″W / 33.02306°N 114.61111°W / 33.02306 -114.61111
203 ft (62 m)
Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
Picacho is an unincorporated community in Imperial County, California. It is located on the Colorado River 29 miles (47 km) south-southeast of Palo Verde, at an elevation of 203 ft (62 m).
Picacho, now a ghost town, was an early mining town on the Colorado River. It was named Picacho (Spanish for “big peak”) after a nearby mountain of the same name.
The original townsite itself is beneath Imperial Reservoir, but remains of some of the ore mills are above the lake level. The area is within Picacho State Recreation Area. The site is now registered as California Historical Landmark #193.
Spaniards probably mined placer gold in the area as early as 1780. The area became very active when prospector Jose Maria Mendivil discovered gold veins in the nearby hills in the early 1860s. Prospectors originally used the dry placering method because the scarcity of water did not permit regular gold panning methods. Dry placering consisted of shoveling sand and gravel onto a blanket and shaking the blanket until only the heavier gold particles remain. A “blanketful” of gold could yield over $20 in gold at 1860’s prices.