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Map of Narbo, CA
What do you know about Narbo?

History Mystery #80: Narbo

By Don Grove

In the late 1800s, Narbo was a mining town located on Quartz Mountain. As the stories go, it was created by a French company, with a French orphanage as one of their biggest investors. Some stories say that the town had fine homes and a mansion residence for the company president. Others say that there was one large building there, a three story French castle-looking structure that was actually a hotel, a place to bring French people to wine and dine them, to get them to invest in the mine. According to this account, the rest of the town was shack housing for the miners.

The company built one of the largest stamp mills in the state, rumored to have been between fifty and eighty stamps. They built either a flume or a canal, depending on the story, from Willow Creek to Narbo to provide water. Unfortunately, they barely had the mill operating when Miller and Lux Cattle Company, who claimed the water rights in the area, shut the water off and filed an injunction against the mine forcing them to cease operation.

E Clampus Vitus is considering placing a monument nearby, but we would like more information. What was actually located there…a hotel? A palatial mansion? A deluxe town or ramshackle miner’s shacks? Are there any photographs still in existence? Was this a legitimate mine, or was it just a money grabbing scheme? Does anyone have any stories about Narbo? Any help would be thoroughly appreciated.

A map of the area is included to help in our search.


Thanks to those who left comments on Facebook.  

Dawn Lee Rock hammer.

Susie Dooman Could it be hung as a chalk balance. Dave has one similar to this.

Will Champion The last train to Daulton was in March of 1953. It was a special passenger trip. The silos were still standing at the time.

Bob Edmiston common body shop tool

Glenn R. Crosson Body man tool or metal worker hammer




One comment

  1. Comments transferred from SNO Facebook – History Mystery #80.

    Shane Herold

    • Dan Carrion It’s interesting that they called it Marbo, not Narbo. Where did this article come from? Lots of good info there. I need to go scout the area. I heard it was not accessible private property, but assumed it was Indian land. I didn’t realize the school district owns it. Thanks so much for posting this.

    • Shane Herold Dan Carrion it is from an old Madera county publication. I think “as we were told” has some info too Indian land.

    • Shane Herold Dan Carrion The stamp mill is on private property

    Shane Herold I know of both sites very well.
    • Jeremiah Tompkins Shane Herold lets go
    • Shane Herold Jeremiah Tompkins let me know
    • Rob Stapleton Shane Herold can you include Dan Carion? He is our Historian for the Madera County Chapter of E Clampus Vitus, we may be interested in a possible monument for its history.
    • Shane Herold Rob Stapleton Dan can DM me anytime. I’d love to help out with this.
    Bryant Platt There are multiple Quartz Mountains in Madeira County. Which quad is this one on?
    • Russ Marks Bryant Platt the elevation shows as near 2700′ so I would guess coarsegold

    Mary Flores I visited the Quartz Mountain near Indian Lakes thirty years ago. Found a few mine shafts, a slight cave that at one time had been part of a miners shack. And lots of loose quartz crystals laying around. Don’t recall any building foundations.

    Frank Messina Are there ruins of the old chateau? Can you drive to them or is it private property?
    • Shane Herold Frank Messina there are signs around saying the property belongs to the school district. There is lots of brick, square nails, and olive trees. Some gates are open. I always walk
    • Kevin Lockwood Are you describing the site above Indian Lakes, or somewhere else?
    • Shane Herold Frank Messina Indian lakes
    • Shane Herold Kevin Lockwood this is the area with the stamp mill etc
    • Kevin Lockwood I’ve walked up there many times but haven’t seen anything. =(
    • Shane Herold Kevin Lockwood DM me I’d be happy to show you around
    Lydia Somerville Robertson Jodi Van Valkenburg

    Michael Jarrell

    Michael Jarrell

    Michael Jarrell

    • Dan Carrion Thanks so much for sharing this. I read somewhere that the mine was worked for at least 11 years after the French left, victims of Miller and Lux and their water rights to Willow Creek drainage.

    Kayla B. Armstrong-Tilden Daniel Tilden Adriana Armstrong Tilden

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