Gold Rush Barons Give Away Last of Their Land
300 acres donated to San Francisco park authorities
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jun 8, 2014 6:51 AM CDT
A gold rush family has donated its last 300 acres to the public.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A single family has controlled large swaths of Bay Area land since the Gold Rush, but that era ended this week, the San Francisco Chronicle reports: The Pattersons have donated the last of their land—almost 300 acres—to the East Bay Regional Park District. The $10 million donation is the most valuable the district has ever received, the newspaper notes; developers put the value at closer to $500 million. Wilcox Patterson calls Tuesday's donation "bittersweet. I used to tramp around here as a boy, hunting pheasants and ducks. But we inherited this land, and with inheritance comes an obligation to give back. ... I'm thrilled to see this land go to public use, for public enjoyment."

Indiana farmer George Patterson headed to California's goldfields in 1849—but it was his farming operation that really took off, the Park District notes. At one point, the Pattersons owned some 8,700 acres of land in the area. After 14 years of argument between locals, developers, the government, and the family, some 296 acres of the new donation will remain as open land. Another 100-acre tract will be developed. "This is an amazing example of benevolence," says an official. "It was a tortuous route to get here, but nothing great ever comes easily," adds the district's general manager. (Meanwhile, drought is fueling a modern day Gold Rush.)

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Showing 3 of 7 comments
Jun 8, 2014 7:55 PM CDT
And the Koch brothers think tipping a dollar is generous....them good old job creators!
Jun 8, 2014 7:52 PM CDT
You can't take it with you so you might as well leave a legacy of kindness for the history books.
Jun 8, 2014 12:47 PM CDT
I wonder if George Patterson is rolling over in his grave because of the loss of his family property?