Advancement of Gold Mining Techniques

Previous to the discovery of the old river channels in the hills, it was the almost universal opinion, I think, that the gold mines would in a very few years be entirely worked out, and all would be compelled to return to their Eastern homes; but by the discovery of the hill gravel mining, the time necessary to accomplish this in was of course extended to a later day, and taken in connection, also, with the fact of the other very important discoveries, that good land was found in some of the other counties, it looked very reasonable to suppose that it would be possible to live here, and establish permanent homes in California.

It was not until about three years later that this opinion became prevalent, and hundreds of families throughout the mining regions came to the conclusion that this might prove to be a pretty good country to live in after all. Steamers were now making regular trips, bringing letters from home and friends semi-monthly. Besides, ships were continually arriving laden with all the necessaries of life, as well as its conveniences, and ladies could appear in the streets of the small, inferior mining towns sporting the latest styles of dress, hats and crinoline attachments, similar to those in the streets of New York or Boston, and what more could they desire? Wages for workers were high in all of the towns and cities; provisions and groceries were reasonable in price, and the whole country assumed the air of a continuation of conditions of general prosperity of a more permanent character. The discovery was further made that, although malaria and mosquitoes were prevalent in certain portions of the country near the river margins, and also in the vicinity of certain flats covered by stagnant waters, and that fleas in swarms infested its chief city, yet the country in general was a very healthy one, the fleas being confined to their native soil and not allowed to scatter around over the State much.



The diverting of the water from mountain streams by means of flumes and ditches for mining purposes, changed entirely the character and general appearance of the gold mining regions , for the eye was soon greeted with the appearance of gardens scattered around among the hills, as well as in various camps. Cabbages raised their shaggy heads in their beds, adjacent to the bed of violets and daisies. Radishes, turnips and horse-radish, etc., could be found profusely scattered here and there, surrounded with rose-bushes, dahlias and the high, lofty and aristocratic sunflower. Beautiful cottages, surrounded with blooming gardens, could be seen dotting the sides and gentle slopes of the hills in the environments of the various mining towns, all denoting the fact of changed conditions, and telling in plain language that now we have come to stay. These changed conditions were not, however, confined to any one particular section of the country, but to all of the mineral regions that at this time were being worked, which included the central counties of the State, as well also as the chief towns and cities. All received the impulse of the change, and moved forward in their course toward a higher improvement of conditions.

With these changes came, also, from the far East, many who had previously returned to their Eastern homes, under the impression when they left that a total collapse here of all mining and business interests generally was a question of but a few short years, and being formed of that material peculiar to the pioneer, too proud to beg their way, would, therefore, be compelled to remain and make their future dwelling places in company with the Indians, amid the ruins of the once thrifty but now deserted mining villages. Many of these men returned, bringing their families with them also, satisfied that they found at last a suitable spot upon the face of the earth for a home, safe from the freezing blizzard and the destructive cyclone ; and a country, too, where at night, after the toil of the day is over and all have retired to rest, and sweet, refreshing sleep is desired, the mercury in the tube of the thermometer hanging by the doer, which has been through the day pretty well up towards the nineties, does not reverse the natural order of things as it does in the East, and continue climbing up during the night, forgetting to fall. On the contrary, here it conforms with the natural law, and gently descends from its lofty elevation of the day, evidencing a more agreeable temperature, necessary to sweet and refreshing slumber.



These things, and many other facts of a similar nature, brought to our State emigrants not only from the East, but from all other countries of the globe, who desired to live under such favorable conditions, and in a short time there could be found in the mining regions, as well as in the chief towns and cities, representatives from almost every nation. But o very small proportion, however, of those who came into the mountains in the year '53 engaged in the business of mining, for previous to this time the very important discovery had been made that, by the use of water for irrigation, the soil could be rendered highly productive, and all kinds of fruits could be raised in the red and apparently barren soil. The German population commenced the cultivation of the grape vine, and from this point in the history of California can be dated the inception of the fruit and wine industries of the Pacific Slope, which in a few years swelled to immense proportions. The little valleys and level places, suitable for orchards and vineyards, were readily located, and everything indicated the fact that all had become convinced that this was the promised land, for which they had so long been searching.

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