Tuesday, October 13, 2009


On some planes of public discourse (real estate, tourism, Craigslist) the area where we live now is referred to as gold country. Well, there was a huge, deep ( a mile down at the deepest) goldmine here that operated from 1850 to 1956.

this mine shaft goes down 1800 feet on a 45 degree slope.

miners going down into the mine to work.

this is where the mine manager lived.

Enormous chunks of land have been hosed through giant sluice boxes by way oversized streams of water. here are some illustrative pictures.

Miles of canals or ditchbanks, leaping over canyons and side creeks with flumes were built to supply hydraulic mines.

We hiked on the Independence Trail, which is an abandoned canal converted to a wheelchair accessible path above the south fork of the Yuba River. This was called the Excelsior Canal. It ran, nearly level, from the south fork of the yube river to Smartville, 25 miles away. there it was sprayed on hillsides to wash out gold bearing gravel from earlier, higher river beds.

not the easiest place to work.

wheelchair access. a new use for an old canal.

Another area of major hydraulic mining nearby is Malakoff Diggins State Park (yes, that is the official spelling).

You can search for "Nevada City, CA" on Google Maps. Zoom out a bit till you see a whitish blob just north and slightly east of nevada city. that's Malakoff Diggins. in 1884 a federal judge banned hydraulic mining as nuisance because the silt runoff inundated large areas of farmland in the central valley and silted in San Francisco bay at an alarming rate.

Isn't it amazing what humans will do following the lure of riches? I see that gold is getting very expensive again.

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