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Copper Creek (California) facts for kids

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Copper Creek
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Location of the mouth in California
Native name Chwuloq'e
Other name(s) Copper River
Country United States
State California
Region Trinity County, Humboldt County
District Six Rivers National Forest
City Orleans (closest city)
Physical characteristics
Main source West Fork Copper Creek
Johnson Spring
5,992 ft (1,826 m)
2nd source East Fork Copper Creek
West Redina Peak
5,416 ft (1,651 m)
River mouth Klamath River
Near Orleans
398 ft (121 m)
41°35′26″N 123°31′20″W / 41.59056°N 123.52222°W / 41.59056; -123.52222
Length 14 mi (23 km), South-North
Basin features
River system Klamath River
Basin size 118 sq mi (310 km2)
  • Left:
    Little Fork Copper Creek, Basin Creek
  • Right:
    Indian Creek (Trinity County, California), Alwood Creek

Copper Creek (also called the Copper River, natively called Chwuloq'e, for chinook salmon) is a southern tributary of the Klamath River in the U.S. state of California. Arising in the Klamath Mountains, the creek drains a narrow watershed of about 120 square miles (310 km2). Historically, Copper Creek was the site of at least one Hupa Native American village, then was extensively mined for gold in the 1850s. The origin of the name comes from the peach-colored cliffs that line the lower few miles of the canyon.


It rises as two forks in the Six Rivers National Forest in Trinity County; the West Fork is the larger of the two branches. The West Fork begins at Johnson Spring on the northeastern flank of an unnamed ridge at an elevation of 5,992 feet (1,826 m). From there, it flows north about 16.5 miles (26.6 km) to its confluence with the East Fork at 40°37′49″N 123°20′48″W / 40.6304°N 123.3466°W / 40.6304; -123.3466. The East Fork rises on the south flank of West Redina Peak at 5,416 feet (1,651 m) and flows northwest for 14.2 miles (22.9 km) to the confluence.

From the confluence, Copper Creek proceeds to flow north-northwest, looping to the southeast at the confluence with Basin Creek. It then turns north again, meandering through a relatively straight valley, and receives in quick succession Graham Creek and Lost Cow Creek from the right. At the confluence with Indian Creek, the creek swings northwest, crossing the Humboldt County line and looping along the east flank of Salmon Mountain. From there, the river proceeds north-northwest through a canyon flanked by the copper-colored cliffs that were responsible for the origin of its name—before receiving Little Copper Creek from the left and emptying into the Klamath River 3 miles (4.8 km) downstream of the city of Orleans. The Klamath flows a further 40 miles (64 km) to empty into the Pacific Ocean.


Historically, the Hupa tribe lived along Copper Creek and the Klamath River around the area of the Copper's mouth. The river was called Chwuloq'e, meaning chinook salmon. One Hupa village was located on the creek, within 5 miles (8.0 km) of the mouth. The river received its modern name in 1851 when miners attracted by the California Gold Rush found the river while traveling on the Klamath in search of gold. The copper-colored cliffs that line the last few miles of the creek's canyon inspired them to give the stream its present name. The miners eventually employed hydraulic mining in order to find deeper deposits of gold in the hillsides surrounding the river. This practice severely hurt the ecology of the creek and its salmon run.

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