At the beginning, a warning is due: this is a study of a false trail to real events. Between the years 1883–86, a mixed community sprang up on a side stream of the river Albazikha, a right tributary of the upper Amur. The discovery of gold, in a Chinese territory previously unfamiliar to any but the local Evenki tribes, had brought about a stampede of fortune seekers. Since Russia's annexation of the Amur District by the Aigun treaty of 1858, and its acquisition of the Maritime District by the treaty of Peking in 1860, the Amur and the Ussuri had marked the eastern borderline between the two empires, and the left banks of both rivers were by now dotted with Cossack settlements. Russians thus made up the bulk of the arrivals to the newly discovered deposits of placer gold, opposite the Cossack station Ignashino. However, estimates at different points in time spoke of up to ten percent of Chinese gold-seekers, while persistent reports mentioned the presence among the miners of the representatives of many other nationalities, from Siberian and Chinese native peoples to European and American adventurers. It must have been the Russians who gave the name Zheltuga to the stream along which gold was extracted. The name derived from a tributary of the Shilka river in the Nerchinsk mining area in Eastern Siberia, where gold had been discovered as early as 1860 (and where, in the territory of modern Chita District, the small river Zheltuga still flows today). Soon after its foundation, the rapidly growing gold camp became widely known in the Russian Far East as ‘the Amur California’. It was the need to describe the phenomenon in terms more familiar to readers in European Russia, but also the temptation to project on the miners' assembly such political aspirations that it did not possess, which led later writers to create the fanciful label of a ‘Zheltuga republic’.