In 1852, while searching for stray horses, Joseph Crook found a gold nugget in Eaglehawk Gully which quickly became one of the premier spots on the Bendigo goldfield. An estimated 20,000 diggers swarmed to the district but, despite some spectacular finds, alluvial gold was quickly exhausted. As early as 1852-3, local quartz reefs were being worked profitably and a succession of mines continued to operate until the twentieth century. Eaglehawk became a municipality in 1862. In 1861, its population was around 345; by 1871 it had risen to 6,600 and in 1901 to 8,370. Since the 1990s Eaglehawk has become part of larger Bendigo.