Hydraulic Mining
As more money was put into the effort to extract gold in California mining techniques changed from those involving individual and small groups of miners to the efforts of large companies and the evolving technology of hydraulic mining. Large water canons, or monitors, were used to rip free millions of cubic yards of placer material for processing in nearby mills. In this activity you will trace the impact of this technology down stream and across time.
The Hydraulic Method Middle English Dam Yuba River Delta Yuba River Delta Yuba River Delta Yuba River Delta The Hydraulic Method The Sawyer Decision

Down the Yuba

Travelogues were one of the more common literary forms in the 19th century. Often composed like a diary, travelogues were aimed at providing readers with a colorful account of the writer's experiences in exotic places. Much of our knowledge of the early days of the California Gold Rush is through travel accounts like that of Dr. William S. McCollum that appeared on his return from the gold fields in his book, California As I Saw It.

Your assignment is to use McCollum's narrative as an example and to write a travelogue of a trip down the Yuba River from the North Bloomfield mines in the Sierras to Marysville in the Sacramento Valley. Your trip will not only take you down the river, but through time as well. The links in the aerial view of Marysville and the Yuba River above begin up river with an 1860 description of the "Hydraulic" Method and take you down the river through time to the Yuba River "Delta" today. Begin your trip with the description of hydraulic mining and work your way downstream. Take careful notes including locations, dates, and details about what you see and learn at each site.

Writing guidelines are provided. Remember, though, that your job is not only to present an accurate narrative of your trip, but to entertain your reader as well.


background image from the Aerial View of Marysville, San Francisco: Britton & Rey, 1871 in Calisphere.

Last modified in June, 2019 by Rick Thomas