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.