Late in 1879, a large man stepped off the train in Oroville, California, and registered at the Union Hotel as Major Frank McLaughlin. This was the beginning of a fascinating chapter in the state's mining history, and a brief one, lasting from October 1879 to May 1881.
It is an unusual story because it was made possible through the financial backing of the great inventor, Thomas A. Edison, probably the only venture in California in which he was directly involved. It is important to California history, as well as that of Butte County, because of the role in it of Edison's personal representative and resident manager, Major Frank McLaughlin, who became a powerful figure in California politics for the next quarter-century before his tragic end.
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