Jerry Brady's Annual You Bet - Old Red Dog Tour

By Bonnie Wayne McGuire



Did you ever take Jerry Brady’s annual You Bet ~ Old Red Dog tour? If you're interested, the 2009 tour will be September 26. We did it Saturday, October 10, 2000. It was a beautiful day for a hike. We took a lunch, folding chairs and met the group around 8:30 at the Vets building in Nevada City. From there we hopped into our cars and headed for You Bet road off Colfax highway. 



Here's Jerry, so we'll follow him to the first site.

It's the old You Bet cemetery, where Jerry gave us a little history about some of the people buried there. In those times...a big mouth, or insulting attitude got you shot, or tar and feathered and run out of town. Next we stopped where the town of You Bet used to be. There isn’t even a trace of it left. Sometimes you see traces of myrtle, or an old orchard where people used to live, but nothing at all here. 

Will King’s grocery store used to be on this site where Jerry put a picture of it and some of the town’s characters and sketches of the town below.

The former town site and the main street.

The stores and houses of You Bet used to line this road. The town was named after a bartender who always had the habit of saying “You bet.”

Pictures of You Bet school children.

The old Brady home (pictured) was just behind this Cedar tree that bears the burn marks from when the BLM burned it down. Later they discovered it wasn’t on BLM land after all.

Here are some of the hydraulic diggings below and to the left of... 

...this tree barely hanging onto the steep cliff. Before hydraulic mining, the terrain was almost level. 

Jerry's relating Nelson Waggoner's story at his grave. "On November 4, 1877 Nelson Waggoner met his business partner Pascal Varnum at Mammoth Bar on the middle fork of the American River about 8 miles from Auburn. They were there to sell a piece of property to a third party. A mutual price was agreed upon but the buyer wanted time to make payments. This was all right with Waggoner but Varnum wanted an extra $1,000 for an extension of time. Waggoner was very upset with Varnum and told him to 'Go to Hell!' Varnum reacted immediately and told Waggoner to 'take that back or I'll shoot you!' Waggoner surely must have thought that Varnum had no intentions of following through on such a threat, as he answered, 'Fire away.' Unfortunately, that is precisely what Varnum did. Waggoner was totally unarmed and thus didn't have a chance when Varnum started shooting. One bullet hit Waggoner in the temple, killing him immediately. Varnum gave himself up and went into custody."

The Waggoner's had one son (Jay) at the time of his death, and his wife Sarah was expecting a second child. George Nelson Waggoner was born three months later. He bore a birthmark the size diameter of a bullet on the same spot on the temple where his father had been shot.

Not far away was the town of Red Dog. All that’s left is the cemetery. In 1852 the mining town of Red Dog suddenly came to life after a man named Wilson and two companions (from Nevada City) were poking around the area and discovered gold. News about this brought crowds of miners seeking their fortunes. By the Spring of 1853 the town had two hotels, three or four stores, several saloons and about thirty dwellings.  During the sixteen years of it's existence, Red Dog suffered from terrible fires. In June 1862, a fire burned the Chinese portion of the town, and in August the town was completely destroyed in less than half an hour. The brick store of J. Heydlauff was the only building standing. The town was quickly rebuilt and the population at that time numbered about two hundred. Soon after the mines became exhausted, and the people began moving away. By 1880 the only places left in the town were the unoccupied brick store and one other building. Here's what it looked like in the 1930's. Thomas Brady's in the bottom photo.


We ate our lunch under this tent while other Brady family members treated us with pictures, mining and family history.

This picture shows Thomas Brady aiming the powerful hydraulic monitor on the hillside at Red Dog. The Brady's gave everyone taking the tour a tiny refrigerator magnet bearing this picture. 

Here are the remains of some of the drain tunnels near our tent

...and of course, here’s Jerry’s older brother Ken who was in Mel's cooking class at school. Mel’s favorite memory was when a new teacher asked the kids where they were born. Ken answered “You Bet," so she asked him a couple more times and got the same answer. She sent him to the office for being a smart aleck, and shortly thereafter the Principal returned to class with Ken to assure her that he was indeed born in the town of You Bet.

I haven’t gone into much history, because it’s more fun to find out on the tour. We purchased Jerry’s wonderful book "You Bet, California Gold Fever" when it was published. Some people take the tour every year, because it’s like a pleasant outing with old friends. When we left they said, “See ya next year!” We haven't gone on the tour since, although Jerry sends us an invitation every year. One of these days we plan on going again. It's a wonderful experience. Some of the kids and went spelunking in a tunnel the following year. Sue and Cheryl remembered going through it many years earlier, but  had trouble finding it again. Some people target practicing in the area told us where it was.

Check out Laura Brown's "Mining The Mysteries of Chalk Bluffs" story about this area.