An Overland Journey from New York to San Francisco in the Summer of 1859

By Horace Greeley | Go to book overview
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1XXVII.
CALIFORNIA MINES AND MINING.

SACRAMENTO, Aug. 7, 1859.

I HAVE spent the last week mainly among the mines and miners of El Dorado, Placer, and Nevada counties, in the heart of the gold-producing region. There may be richer "diggings" north or south; but I believe no other three counties lying together have yielded in the aggregate, or are now producing, so much gold as those I have named. Of course, I have not been within sight of more than a fraction of the mines or placers of these counties, while I have not carefully studied even one of them; and yet the little information I have been able to glean, in the intervals of traveling, friendly greeting, and occasional speech-making, may have some value for those whose ignorance on the subject is yet more dense than mine.

The three counties I have named lie near the center of the state, at the base of the Sierra Nevada, between those mountains on the east and the valley of the Sacramento on the west. They are rugged in formation, being composed of innumerable hills (mainly spurs of the great chain), separated by narrow valleys, usually descending to the west, and gradually opening out into the broad, rich valley of the Sacramento. The three branches or "forks" of the American and those of the Yuba River come brawling down from the Sierra Ne

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