Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/California
CALIFORNIA, the name originally given to a portion of the region of western North America bordering on the Pacific Ocean, and apparently taken from a Spanish romance (Las Sergus de Esplandian), in which the author speaks of “the great island of California, where a great abundance of gold and precious stones is found.” This romance was published in 1510, and, becoming quite popular, the name of California probably struck the fancy of some one of the officers or companions of Cortez, and was applied by them to the newly-discovered country, perhaps on account of its association with a region fabulously rich in gold, the early Spanish discoverers in America always expecting to find an El Dorado in every new region they entered.
As at first used, the name of California was applied to the coast and the territory at a little distance from it, north of Mexico; gradually it was extended over what we now call the “Great Basin,” and with no well-defined limits to the north. At the present time, the name California means only the State of California, one of the United States of America, and the peninsula is called Lower California. To the Spanish Americans these natural divisions of the country were and still are known as Upper and Lower California (Alta and Baja California), and the two were called “Las Californias”—the Californias.
The first discovery of the coast of Lower California was made in 1534, by an expedition sent out by Cortez, and consisting of two ships, commanded by Bezerra de Mendoza, and Hernando de Grijalva; and later, the gulf now known as the Gulf of California was discovered and navigated by Cortez himself; after whom it was for a time called El Mar de Cortez, and later El Mar Vermejo (the Red or Vermilion Sea), in consequence of the red colour which it has at times, and which is probably due to the multitudes of small animalculæ (crustaceans?) inhabiting its waters. In 1540 the mouth of the Colorado River was discovered by Alarcon. in command of a fleet sent out by Mendoza for geographical exploration. In 1542 the coast of California proper was explored by Cabrillo as far north as Cape Mendocino, in latitude 44°. In 1578 Sir Francis Drake entered the Pacific, and coasted along the shores of the American continent, reaching a point as far north as 48°. Whether he discovered the bay and harbour of San Francisco has been and still is a matter of dispute. By some he is supposed to have tarried and refitted his ships at what is now known as Sir Francis Drake's Bay; by others he is believed to have done this in the Bay of San Francisco itself. The evidence seems to decidedly preponderate in favour of the first of these suppositions. In 1602 the bays of San Diego and Monterey were discovered by Viscaino; but more than a hundred and fifty years elapsed before the latter was visited again, and before settlements began to be made on the coast of Upper California. The peninsula (Lower California) was entered by Jesuit missionaries in 1697, and a permanent mission established at Loreto; where, and at other points, the Jesuits maintained themselves, on the whole successfully, until 1767, when they were expelled from the country by order of Charles III. of Spain, and all their property turned over to the Franciscan monks. Later, the Dominicans obtained exclusive possession of the peninsula; and the Franciscans, not unwillingly, withdrew to Upper California, where they established themselves, built numerous missions, and throve remarkably until Mexico became independent of Spain in 1822; this event was a death-blow to the establishments of the Franciscans, which from that time forward lost ground from year to year, and finally were broken up altogether in 1840. The treatment by the fathers of the natives of the country was successful so far as the accumulation of material wealth was concerned, but not in the slightest degree conducive to their intellectual advancement or development, as the so-called converts were simply the slaves of the “good fathers.” The whole number of the mission establishments was twenty-one,—the first founded in 1769, the last in 1820. They were all on or near the coast or bay of San Francisco, and the fathers displayed most excellent judgment in selecting for their sites the very garden-spots of the country. The number of the aboriginal inhabitants of California has rapidly decreased within the past forty or fifty years. The various authorities agree in fixing their number at over 100,000 in 1823. In 1863, according to the census made by the Indian Department, there were only 29,000; the census of 1870 gave about the same results, namely, 29,025, 5784 being actually enumerated, and the remainder merely an estimate. It is certain that the decrease in the Indian population was at one time exceedingly rapid; it would appear, however, that at present it is much less so. The few that are left are mostly a degraded, miserable set of beings.
During the time of the flourishing of the missions of California, the connection of the country with Spain through Mexico was a very loose one. Gradually a trade of some importance sprang up between the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the continent. Boston had for a number of years an entire monopoly of this business, which consisted chiefly of an exchange of groceries and cotton goods for furs and hides. The voyage usually lasted two years or more, and the profits were large. A few Englishmen and Americans wandered into California from different parts of the world between 1810 and 1830; and some adventurous and daring men found their way across the continent, in the pursuit of the dangerous and exciting business of hunting and trapping. It is estimated that there were, in 1830, as many as 500 foreigners on the west side of the Sierra Nevada. Of all these early pioneers, John A. Sutter is the one who is best known, from the fact that the first effective discovery of gold, by the Americans, was made by men in his employ; and also on account of the generous hospitality with which he welcomed the first comers into California, notably Fremont and his party.
In 1842 Commodore Jones of the American navy captured the fort of Monterey, raised the stars and stripes, and took possession of the country for the United States; but the next day he hauled down his colours, and apologized for his mistake. About this time the attention of the United States Government began to be strongly attracted towards California; and, as is universally believed in that State, the French and the English were also looking in that direction, with a view to a future possible taking possession of the country. All the circumstances connected with the seizing of California by the United States will probably never be known. It appears pretty clear, however, that the authorities at Washington, having determined on a war with Mexico, and fully aware of the importance to the United States of an extension of their territory on the Pacific, resolved to take possession of California, so that after the termination of the war, matters being settled on the basis of uti possidetis, that country would become a part of the United States. At all events, Fremont being accidentally engaged in conducting a scientific expedition on the Pacific coast, received in May 1846, verbal instructions from an officer dispatched from Washington in a national ship, and who had crossed from Vera Cruz to Mazatlan. In consequence of these instructions, he turned back, made his way at once to Sutter's Fort, then to Sonoma, where he organized a battalion of mounted riflemen; and on the 5th of July he called his forces together, and recommended a declaration of independence. On the 2d of the same month a United States frigate had arrived at Monterey, where, on the 7th, the commander hoisted the American flag, issuing at the same time a proclamation, in which California was declared to be, from that time forth, a portion of the United States. This was followed by some fighting with the native Californians, and much bitter discussion and dissension among the different officers of the navy and army, who were concerned in the conquest of the country. The principal result was, that Fremont, who was tried by court-martial, found guilty of mutiny, and sentenced to lose his commission, was ever afterwards considered by the people to have been the real conqueror of California; and, in consequence, he came near being elevated to the Presidency. The country was entirely pacified before June 1847; and in March 1848 a treaty was ratified between the Governments of the United States and Mexico, by which the whole of Upper California was ceded to the United States, just at the moment when the discovery of gold on the American River was beginning to attract attention; and when the news of the ratification reached the Pacific coast, the excitement had already spread far and wide; San Francisco was deserted, and the whole population of the country was at work in the mountains, digging gold. The discussion as to what should be done with California, when acquired, began in Congress in 1846; and the question of slavery or no slavery in the new territory was at once raised. A most furious conflict followed, and nothing was accomplished during that session or the next; even as late as the adjournment of Congress, on the 4th of March 1849, the only progress made towards creating a Government for the new territory, was that the United States revenue laws had been extended over it, and San Francisco made a port of entry. In consequence of this the people themselves got together in September 1849, and a constitution was framed forbidding slavery, and in other respects resembling the constitutions of the free American States. On the 7th of September 1850, a bill finally passed Congress, admitting California into the Union as a State, and without slavery, but leaving New Mexico and Utah open to its introduction. At the same time the celebrated “Compromise Measures” became a law and these were supposed to have settled the question of slavery for ever in the republic; the lapse of a few years proved, however, that this was a problem which admitted of no peaceful solution. By the treaty with Mexico, the United States did not acquire the Peninsula of Lower California, although they had military possession of it at that time. It was probably known to the authorities at Washington that it was a region of little value, as compared with the country to the north of it, or California proper.
Lower California.—Under this designation is comprised the whole peninsula, and it extends from Cape St Lucas to the boundary between the United States and Mexico, which is a line “drawn from the middle of the Rio Gila, where it unites with the Colorado, to a point on the coast of the Pacific one marine league due south of the southernmost point of the port of San Diego.” The breadth of the peninsula varies very much, it being from five to six times as great between the parallels of 27° and 28° as it is opposite the Bay of La Paz. The area of Lower California has been estimated as 58,000 square miles; the recent charts of the American Hydrographic Office, based on original surveys, make the peninsula narrower than it was formerly believed to be, and its area has not been computed since these surveys were made; it will probably not exceed 50,000 square miles.
The interior of Lower California is chiefly known to us, as to its physical and geological structure, from a reconnaissance made by Messrs Gabb and Loehr, of the State Geological Survey of California, in 1867. This exploration was set on foot in order that some information might be obtained relative to the value of a concession made by the Mexican Government to an American company. This grant was expected to lead to a settlement of the country, but the whole thing turned out a failure.
According to Mr Gabb, the peninsula is divided into three distinct portions. The northern and southern extremities have much in common with each other, while the middle division differs decidedly from the others in its physical characters. The most southern division consists chiefly of granitic rocks and high ranges, which with their spurs cover nearly the whole area from Cape St Lucas to La Paz. Within this district, and lying between the spurs of the mountains, are many small valleys, some of which are very fertile, and well supplied with water. According to the American hydrographic charts, there are in this part of the peninsula two well-defined ranges, and the culminating point is given as 6300 feet in altitude. It is in this region, about half-way from Cape St Lucas to La Paz, that the principal mines of the peninsula are situated; and these are the only ones which, thus far, have proved to be of much value. They are in the districts of San Antonio and Triunfo. In 1867 these mines were producing at the rate of about $20,000 in value of silver per month; and, from recent newspaper notices, it would appear that they are still worked with success. The ores are, however, refractory, and not easily treated.
Proceeding northwardly into the middle section of the peninsula, the granitic masses unite and form one mountain range, which runs parallel with the coast of the gulf, and at a distance of fifteen or twenty miles from it. It is known as the Sierra Gigantea, or del Gigante, and has an elevation of from 3000 to 4000 feet. Crossing this range and descending its western slope, its inclination is found to be very gradual, the granitic mass being flanked on that side by heavy accumulations of sandstone, which has a gentle dip away from the crest of the ridge. This sandstone is quite destitute of fossils, but is believed by Mr Gabb to be of Miocene age. It is cut by numerous volcanic dykes, and also contains great quantities of material of eruptive origin, in the form of interstratified masses. In this portion of the peninsula the settlements are confined to the eastern base of the Sierra Gigantea. Here, at numerous points along the coast, there are small valleys, with good harbours adjacent; and these little patches of country are very fertile and adapted to the growth of tropical and semi-tropical plants. By far the greater portion of the region, however, is extremely barren and forbidding; although occasional deep ravines and narrow valleys offer a marked contrast to the general sterility of the rest of the country. The northern division of the peninsula is considerably broken by mountain ranges, resembling in this respect the southern extremity. The culminating point is put down on the American hydrographic charts at 9130 feet in altitude, and it is called Mount Calamahue. Between the ranges are broad valleys, covered with grass, and said to possess some agricultural value, although as yet almost entirely unoccupied.
The dryness of the climate is the characteristic feature of the peninsula of Lower California; and although there are no reliable statistics of the rainfall it is undoubtedly very small. It is, indeed, very irregular, there being long periods of absolute dryness, in certain regions at least. The yearly average fall over the whole peninsula, for a long period of years, would perhaps not exceed three or four inches. As in the drier portion of Upper California, so here, when the rain does fall, it occasionally comes down in almost destructive quantity, over a very limited area, in the form of what are popularly known as “cloud-bursts.”
Owing to the dryness of the climate in part, and also to the character of the Mexican Government, all the numerous attempts which have been made to settle Lower California have proved failures. The population at present is estimated at from 8000 to 15,000, about two-thirds of whom live near the southern extremity of the peninsula. The harbours on both coasts are numerous, and that of Magdalena Bay is hardly inferior in extent and availability to the Bay of San Francisco itself. Whale-fishing on the west coast, and especially about Sebastian Viscaino Bay, was, a few years ago, carried on very extensively. In the winter of 1848 there were fifty American ships anchored in the bay and lagoons of Magdalena, chiefly engaged in capturing the “California Grey” whale (Rhachianectes glaucus, Cope). The pearl-fisheries of Lower California have also for many years been of some importance; they are conducted by companies, and the divers are chiefly Yaqui Indians. The total value of the pearls obtained, within the last century and a half, has been estimated at five or six millions of dollars; but this, of course, can hardly be considered as being anything more than a rough approximation. On the whole, the prospects of Lower California are not very cheering; dryness and sterility are the dominating features of a very large portion of the country. The emigration schemes have all failed, and not without considerable suffering to the unfortunate people who from time to time have been deluded into the belief that the peninsula was a rich and fertile region. The attempts at mining for copper, which have been made at various points north of Triunfo, have all proved unsuccessful.
The State of California. Area.—This is what is now always meant when the word “California” alone is used. It is in part the equivalent of the “Upper California” (Alta California) of the Spanish,—the present state of Nevada, and also the territories of Arizona and Utah, as well as parts of Wyoming and New Mexico, having been also included under that somewhat vague designation. California extends from the boundary already defined on the south to the parallel of 42°, which is the dividing line between this State and Oregon. On the east, the 120th meridian forms the boundary from 42° south to the intersection of that meridian with the 39th parallel, which takes place within the waters of Lake Tahoe, near its southern end. From this point the boundary runs obliquely in a south-easterly direction to the intersection of the 35th parallel with the Colorado River, and thence down the river to the Mexican boundary line opposite the mouth of the Gila. The whole area thus embraced has been variously estimated at from 155,000 to 188,981 square miles. The last-mentioned figures are those given in the latest document published in connection with the United States census,—General Walker's Statistical Atlas,—as well as in the Report of the Commissioner of the United States General Land Office for 1866. It is believed, however, that the first-named figures are much nearer the truth than the other higher statement, and that the area of California is somewhere between 155,000 and 160,000 square miles.
Topography.—The surface and climate of California, although extremely varied in character, bear everywhere a peculiar impress, very different from that of the Atlantic coast and Mississippi Valley States. The division of the year into two seasons—the wet and ths dry—marks this portion of the Pacific coast in the most decided manner, and this natural climatic area coincides almost exactly in its extension with that of the State of California itself. Soon after crossing the Oregon line, we enter a region of summer and winter rains; and, in Lower California, although the entire precipitation is exceedingly small, it is, on the whole, decidedly tropical in its character.
Before, however, the nature of the Californian climate can be understood, it will be necessary to give some account of the physical structure of the State, and to indicate the interesting and somewhat peculiar character of the relief of its surface. California may be divided into three quite distinct portions, and these are very different from each other in importance,—the central being much the most densely populated, and in every respect the most valuable. This central portion is embraced between the parallels of 35° and 40°, and has, on its eastern side, the Sierra Nevada, and on its western the Coast Ranges, with the Pacific Ocean at their western base. Between these two mountain chains lies the Great Central Valley, which forms so marked a feature in the topography of the state. This valley is drained by the Sacramento River, flowing from the north, and the San Joaquin from the south, the two uniting about midway between the northern and southern extremities of the valley, and entering the Bay of San Francisco through Suisun and San Pablo bays, which latter is, in fact, but the northern expansion of San Francisco Bay itself. Suisun Bay, on the other hand, is rather the partly submerged delta of the united rivers, being shallow, and containing large, low islands covered with a dense growth of “tule” (Scirpus palustris). The entire length of the Great Valley is about 450 miles; and its breadth, which is small in its northern part, and gradually increasing towards the south, averages about 40 miles, including the lower foot-hills, so that the entire almost level area contains about 18,000 square miles. The direction of the valley is parallel with that of the ranges between which it is enclosed, or about N. 31° W.; but it gradually takes a more northerly course to the north of the Bay of San Francisco, in harmony with the change in the trend of the coast beyond the parallel of 39°. From the mouth of the Sacramento to Redding, at the northern head of the valley, the rise is 556 feet in 192 miles; and from the mouth of the San Joaquin to Kern Lake it is 282 feet in 260 miles. A striking feature of the Sacramento River is the fact that for 200 miles north from the mouth of the Feather River it does not receive a single tributary of any note, although walled in by high mountain ranges. Indeed, the whole of the Great Valley is thus surrounded; the only break being at San Francisco, where the channel which connects it with the sea—the Golden Gate—is only one mile wide in its narrowest part. The region thus enclosed, computing it from the divide, or water-shed, of the enclosing mountain ranges, is 520 miles in length, and it has an average breadth of 110 miles. This gives an approximate area of 57,200 square miles, as stated by U. S. Irrigation Commissioners, their estimates having been made on the basis of the State Geological Survey maps. The drainage of this entire area reaches the sea through the Golden Gate. But before noticing the lakes and rivers which belong to the Great Valley, it will be desirable to give some idea of the mountain ranges in which these rivers take their rise; and it should be added in justice, that nearly all that is known of the detailed structure and elevation of the mountain chains of California is due to the work of the Geological Survey.
The Sierra Nevada, or Snowy Range, of California is, on the whole, the largest and most interesting chain of mountains within the limits of the United States. Its scenery is attractive, and in some respects quite unique; its vegetation is unsurpassed in grandeur, unless it be by that of the Australian forests; its mining resources are large, and have been the direct cause of the rapid peopling of the Pacific side of the continent and of the building up of eleven States and Territories in what was before almost an unknown region. In general altitude, the Sierra Nevada does not much excel some of the ranges of the Rocky Mountains proper, although it has one summit higher than any yet ascertained to exist in the United States, not including, however, the Alaskan territory. The length of the chain, from Mount San Jacinto to Mount Shasta, is about 600 miles; but, on some accounts, it would be more proper to consider the Sierra as beginning at the Tahichipi Pass and terminating at Lassen's Peak, in which case its length would be about 430 miles. The breadth of this great mass of mountains varies from 75 to 100 miles; and it narrows towards the north, while its altitude also declines in the same direction. The slope of the range is every where long and gradual on the west, and short and precipitous to the east, in which latter direction, of course, the general level of the Great Basin is attained, and this is from 4000 to 5000 feet above the sea. The highest part of the range is between the parallels of 36° 30' and 37° 30'; here the passes are about 12,000 feet in elevation above the sea-level, and the peaks range from 13,000 to 14,886 feet in altitude, the culminating point, Mount Whitney, being about 600 feet higher than any peak yet measured in the Rocky Mountains. From this peak, going north, the range declines gradually, and at the point where the Central Pacific Railroad crosses it the summit is only 7000 feet above the sea; this is in latitude 39° 20'. The slope of the Sierra in the central part of the State opposite Sacramento is about 100 feet to the mile, the range being there seventy miles in breadth between the valley and the crest; farther south, opposite Visalia, the average rise is as much as 240 feet to the mile, up to the summit of the passes, and 300 feet to the peaks. In this part of the range, the slope on the east is very abrupt, being as much as 1000 feet to the mile from the summit to the level of Owen's Valley, a descent of about 10,000 feet. The western side of the Sierra Nevada is furrowed by extremely deep and precipitous gorges, or cañons, as they are universally called in California. These are narrow at the bottom, where there is usually barely room for the river to run at an ordinary stage of water; their sides slope upwards at a very steep angle, often as much as 30°; and they are sunk from 1 to 3000 feet, or even more, below the general level. These canons become more and more marked features of the range as we proceed north in the Sierra; and where the volcanic formations have spread themselves uniformly over the flanks of the mountains, so as to form a smooth and almost level surface, as is the case over an extensive area, the contrast between the deep and precipitous cañons and the plain-like region, with its gentle slope to the west, in which they have been excavated, is a very marked one.
The Coast Ranges form a large mass of mountains, almost as broad as the Sierra, but much inferior to it in elevation, and at the same time more complicated in details. The Sierra Nevada is essentially one range or chain, with great simplicity of structure. It is only here and there that, along the crest or near it, a double line of summits exists, with deep longitudinal valleys between, which are occasionally occupied by lakes, as in the case of Lake Tahoe; while the Coast Ranges, on the other hand, are made up of numerous broken and indistinct chains, each of which usually has a distinct name, the different groups of ranges having, however, on the whole a well-marked parallelism with the coast. Near the Bay of San Francisco the culminating summits are about 4000 feet in altitude; to the north and south of the bay the elevation of the ranges increases. Monte Diablo, twenty-eight miles distant from San Francisco in a north-north-easterly direction, is 3856 feet in height, and forms a well-known land-mark, being, from its somewhat isolated position on the north, a very conspicuous object over much of the central portion of the state. The view from its summit is remarkably comprehensive, as is that from Mount St Helena, at the head of Napa Valley, sixty miles north of San Francisco, and 4343 feet in height.
The flanks of the Coast Ranges on the western side of the Great Valley are very scantily provided with forests, and there is not a single stream on that side permanent enough to reach either the Sacramento or San Joaquin throughout the entire year. The only streams which carry water in summer on the west side of the Sacramento Valley are Puta, Cache, and Stoney creeks, and these all disappear during the dry season, soon after leaving the foot-hills. On the western side, however, the conditions are greatly changed. The rain-fall, almost entirely cut off on the eastern slope of the Coast Ranges, becomes considerable on the western side of the more elevated Sierra, and numerous large rivers are fed from the melting snow during the summer, although, towards the close of the dry season, the body of water which they carry has usually become very much diminished. The streams tributary to the Sacramento on the east side are—the Feather, Yuba, American, Consumnes, Mokelumne, and several other smaller ones. The Feather has the largest drainage area of any river having its source in the Sierra. It runs for a long distance parallel with the Sacramento, receiving on the east all the drainage which would otherwise run into that river. There are no lakes in the Sacramento division of the Great Valley; but at its southern extremity there are several, one of which is of large size, having an area of not less than 700 square miles. This is Tulare Lake, which, together with Kern and Buena Vista lakes, receives the drainage of the southern part of the Sierra, by the Kern, Kaweah, King's, and other smaller streams. Tulare Lake is quite shallow, being only 40 feet deep; its banks are low and reedy (hence the name, Tulare, a place of reeds or tules), and in wet seasons it overflows them, and becomes greatly extended in area. At such times the excess of the drainage passes off into the San Joaquin; but in dry seasons the evaporation is so great that there is no discharge in that direction. The northern branch of the San Joaquin heads in the grand group of summits of which Mounts Maclure, Lyell, and Ritter are the culminating points; the southern rises on the north side of Mount Goddard. The united stream issues from the mountains at Millerton; and, after gaining the centre of the valley, it turns and runs at right angles to its former course, receiving three important tributaries and several smaller ones on the east, but not a single permanent one from the west. The area of the Sierra drained by the San Joaquin is only about half that of which the Feather collects the surplus waters.
There are several large mountain lakes in California, some of which are of pure and fresh water, while others are alkaline, being without any outlet. The finest of these is Tahoe, which lies on the very summit of the Sierra, and at an elevation of about 6200 feet. It has a length of about twenty miles, and is 1500 feet deep, its water being extremely pure, as it contains only three grains of solid matter to the gallon. The overflow of this body of water passes off by the Truckee River, and enters Pyramid Lake, where it “sinks,” or disappears by evaporation. Clear Lake is another beautiful sheet of water, in the Coast Ranges, and about the same length as Lake Tahoe, but much narrower and more irregular in shape. Owen's Lake is the “sink” of Owen's River, and is about eighteen miles long. Mono Lake is the sink of the streams rising in the Sierra between Mount Dana and Castle Peak. It is about fourteen miles long, and nine wide, and lies at an elevation of about 7000 feet above the sea-level. There are several other large alkaline lakes in Lassen and Modoc counties, which receive the drainage of the eastern slope of the Sierra, within the limits of the State. Death Valley is the sink of the Amargosa River, and it has evidently been once an extensive lake, although now only a mud-flat in ordinary winters, and a dry, alkaline, desert plain in summer. All these lakes and depressions show very plainly, by the terraces which surround them, that the water was formerly much more abundant, and stood at a higher level than it now does.
North of the parallel of 40°, where the Coast Ranges and the Sierra unite, and the Great Valley disappears, the country is extremely rough and very thinly inhabited. The seven counties which are included within the region north from the head of the Sacramento Valley to the State line had in 1870 a population of only 19,269, and they had all lost in numbers during the previous decade. The counties of Lassen, Siskyou, and Modoc, which are embraced in the north-eastern corner of the State, are chiefly covered with volcanic plains, very dry and barren, lying between precipitous, although not very lofty, ranges. The waters of this region have no drainage to the sea. These three counties, with an area as large as that of Belgium, had in 1870 a population of only 8175, or less than one to the square mile. The north-western corner of the State is also extremely rough and mountainous, and a large part of it quite uninhabitable. The ranges which intersect it, and which are known as the Siskyou, Salmon, and Scott Mountains, seem to be geologically the continuation of the Sierra Nevada. They are from 6000 to 8000 feet in height; but they have never been accurately mapped, and very little is definitely known about them, although gold washings have been carried on for many years in some of the valleys bordering the Klamath River and its tributaries.
That portion of California which lies to the south and east of the southern inosculation of the Coast Ranges and the Sierra, comprising an area of fully 50,000 square miles, is also very thinly inhabited, with the exception of a narrow strip along the coast. Nearly all of San Diego and San Bernardino counties belongs to the Great Basin system, having no drainage to the sea. Los Angeles County, however, has within its borders some of the most fertile lands in the state. These form a strip about twenty miles wide along the coast; the north-eastern half of the county on the other hand, is extremely barren. The region lying east of the Sierra Nevada, and between the crest of that range and the boundary of the State, chiefly divided between the two counties of Mono and Inyo, is also a very mountainous tract of country. Owen's River runs through it from north to south for a distance of 180 miles, emptying into the lake of the same name, lying at the south end of Owen's Valley, and with no outlet. Here the scenery is extremely grand, the valley being very narrow and the ranges on either side elevated from 7000 to 10,000 feet above the lake and river. The Inyo range, on the east, is quite bare and destitute of timber, and its summits are only occasionally whitened with snow for a few days during the winter, the precipitation being almost entirely cut off by the Sierra on the west. East of Owen's Lake are several parallel ranges of mountains; and beyond them, at a distance of about forty miles from the lake, is Death Valley, which is about 150 feet below the sea-level. The name was given in allusion to the fate of a party of emigrants, who perished here, many years ago, from thirst, and perhaps starvation. Between Owen's Lake and Death Valley are the Panamint Mountains, which have lately been the scene of considerable mining excitement. A portion of the extreme southern part of the State in San Diego County is also below the sea-level. Here is a depressed area of fifty miles in length, the width of which is un known; in its lowest part it is over 300 feet beneath the level of the sea. Dry Lake occupies the greatest depression of this area at the entrance to the Coahuila Valley.
There are many fine points in the scenery of California, some of which have already become well known from the descriptions of pleasure-travellers who have flocked to the State from all parts of the world. The granite pinnacles and domes of the Highest Sierra opposite Owen's Lake; the snowy cone of Mount Shasta, rising 10,000 feet above the adjacent plains; the lovely valleys of the Coast Ranges, with their peculiar vegetation,—all these have their charms; but the point which is most attractive of all is the Yosemite Valley. This is situated in the Sierra, about 150 miles in a direct line, a little south of east, from San Francisco. Its elevation is 3950 feet above the sea, and it is hemmed in by cliffs varying from 2000 to 3000 feet in elevation. The principal features of the Yosemite, and those by which it is distinguished from all other known valleys, are—first, the near approach to vertically of its walls; second, their great height, not only absolutely, but as compared with the width of the valley itself; and finally, the small amount of talus or débris at the base of these gigantic cliffs. The waterfalls in and about this valley are also of wonderful beauty and variety. Those of the Yosemite Creek, which descend from the cliffs on the north side, are most remarkable for their height, which is, in the whole, not less than 2600 feet, but divided into three parts, with one vertical fall of 1500 feet. The Nevada and Merced Falls of the Merced River, which flows through the whole length of the valley, combine great height with a large body of water, and are wonderfully grand. The Half Dome is one of the most striking features of the Yosemite, its elevation being 4737 feet above the bottom of the valley, with an absolutely vertical face of 1500 feet at the summit, turned towards the Tenaya Fork of the Merced, above which it rises. The scenery of the cañon of the Tuolumne River, which flows parallel with the Merced, a few miles further north, is also extremely picturesque, and remarkable especially for the great number and variety of the cascades which occur at short intervals in the deep gorge, the walls of which are bare and almost vertical precipices, in places more than a thousand feet high. The river, which is not much less than a hundred feet wide, falls 4650 feet in a distance of twenty-two miles. A few miles farther down, the narrow gorge opens out into a beautiful valley, in many respects a wonderful counterpart of the Yosemite, although inferior to it in grandeur. This is called the Hetch-Hetchy. Above the Yosemite Valley the scenery of the High Sierra is very attractive, immense conical knobs or domes of granite being a prominent and very characteristic feature of this and other portions of the Sierra. Mount Dana, a little over 13,000 feet in height, dominates over the region above the Yosemite; and from its summit, which is quite easy of access, a magnificent panorama may be had of the Sierra Nevada, with Mono Lake, nearly 7000 feet below, spread out like a map, and beyond it the lofty, and, in some instances, snow-clad ranges of the Great Basin, while several well-formed and very large volcanic cones are seen just to the south of the lake.
Climate.—The climate of California presents many features of interest, differing considerably from those obtaining in the Eastern and Mississippi Valley States, which have furnished a majority of the immigrants to the Pacific coast and Great Basin. There can be no doubt that emigration to California has, especially within the past few years, been greatly stimulated by the desire of people at the East to escape the sudden changes, the intense heats of summer, and the bitter colds of winter, which characterize the climate of the whole country east of the Rocky Mountains.
The climate of California is very different in different parts of the State, according to distance from the ocean, situation with reference to the mountain ranges, and altitude above the sea-level. But there are certain peculiar features which obtain all over the State. In the first place, the division of the year into two seasons—a dry and a rainy one—is the most marked general characteristic of the Californian climate. But, as one goes north, the winter rain is found to begin earlier and last longer; while, on the other hand, the south-eastern corner of the State is almost rainless. Again, the climate of the Pacific coast, along its whole length, is milder and more uniform than that of the States in a corresponding latitude east of the mountains. Thus, we have to go as far north as Sitka, in latitude 57°, to find the same mean yearly temperature as that of Halifax, in latitude 44° 39. And in going south along the coast, we observe that the mean temperature of San Diego is six or seven degrees less than that of Charleston and Vicksburg, which are nearly in the same latitude as San Diego, and situated, one on the Atlantic, the other on the Mississippi River. But, in addition, we notice that the means of summer and winter are much nearer the mean of the year in California than in the east. Thus, comparing Washington and San Francisco, we have—
| Mean of
| Mean of |
This condition of things is not so marked as we advance into the interior of California; but everywhere in the state the winters are comparatively mild, and the heat of summer is much less disagreeable in its effects, because the air is exceedingly dry and the evaporation proportionately rapid. The climate of San Francisco is indeed wonderfully uniform; and the bracing, cool air which sweeps in from the ocean during the afternoons of the summer, although not favourable to persons with weak lungs or sensitive throats, is the very breath of life for those who are in vigorous health. One great drawback to the enjoyment of the delightful climate of California, however, is the dust of summer, which seems, until one becomes accustomed to it, quite unbearable. A more serious difficulty in this State is the extreme variability in the amount of rain which falls from year to year; and this uncertainty is something which must always be present in the mind of the farmer as likely seriously to influence his future. Some years are so dry that the crops are almost an entire failure, except directly on the coast, or where artificial irrigation is practised; other years are so wet, that serious inundations occur. During the interval from 1850 to 1872, the yearly rain-fall ranged, at San Francisco, from 7.4 inches to 49.27 inches. In going southward from San Francisco, the mean rain-fall decreases along the coast, and at San Diego it is only about 10 inches. At Fort Yuma it is a little over 3 inches. In the Sierra the annual precipitation increases as we rise in altitude; it is almost entirely in the form of snow at elevations greater than 6000 or 7000 feet; and this snow, as it melts during the summer, furnishes a store of water of immense importance to the State, supplying, as it does, the numerous ditches or small canals, which have been built, in connection with great reservoirs high up in the mountains, for supplying the miners, and which are more and more utilized for agricultural purposes, as the placer-mining claims cease to be worked. As there is no fall of rain or snow of any consequence on the Sierra during the summer, the accumulated stock of the previous winter melts gradually, and after a succession of dry seasons, it almost entirely disappears from the summits of the range. If, on the other hand, two or more rainy winters follow each other, the crest retains a large amount of snow to add to the next year's stock. The climatic conditions are such, however, that there are no true glaciers formed anywhere in the Sierra, although the traces of former ones are everywhere visible along the highest part of the range. These ancient glaciers once covered the summits and extended quite low down in some of the valleys,—notably in that of the Tuolumne, where the ice-flow may once have been from thirty to forty miles in length. The walls of the Hetch-Hetchy Valley are beautifully scored and polished by former glaciers, which once entirely filled the upper portion of this grand canon. The nearest approach to a glacier which at present exists in the Sierra is to be found on Mount Shasta, on the north side of which, and almost at the summit, are large masses of ice having many of the characteristics of the genuine glacier.
The winds of California are, during the summer, exceedingly regular in their movement. As the interior becomes heated by the sun, the air rises, and a current of colder air rushes from the sea to take its place. Wherever there is an opening, therefore, in the Coast Ranges down to the level of the sea, there the wind will blow through it fiercely during the hottest part of the summer day, towards the interior. Thus, in going from the Bay of San Francisco towards the mountains, or up either the Sacramento or the San Joaquin Valley, the wind will be with the traveller. In fact the current spreads out fan-shaped from that point, and reaches far up from the ocean. A very strong wind and cool and bracing weather at San Francisco are indications of exceptionally hot days in the interior. At night the breeze slackens, and usually ceases altogether, a light mist often enveloping the city of San Francisco. At the same time, the cooler air draws gently down the mountain slopes, in opposition to its direction during the day. In the interior, the days, in summer, are extremely warm, the thermometer sometimes rising to 120° in the shade, and 160° or 170° in the sun. The farther one goes from the Bay of San Francisco, the hotter it becomes. At night, however, the radiation is rapid, and the temperature falls, so that a warm covering is almost always needed. The south-eastern corner of California is exceedingly dry, and has a very high temperature. At Fort Yuma the mean of the year is 76°, and the heat in summer is almost intolerable, the thermometer ranging above 90°, sometimes for weeks, both by night and by day. Among the peculiarities of the Californias this is not one of the least striking, that, as one leaves the Sacramento and San Joaquin plains, and travels into the mountains, it becomes quite perceptibly warmer, at least for the first 2000 or 3000 feet of ascent. Thus, the mean temperature of the year at Colfax, 2400 feet above the sea-level, was, for 1871, 1°.6, and for 1872, 1°.4 higher than that of Sacramento, which is only 30 feet above the sea. As high up as 8000 or 10,000 feet the days in summer are comfortably warm, and even on the high peaks of the Sierra, at 12,000 or 13,000 feet of altitude, at mid-day it is usually so warm that an overcoat is not needed. At night, however, at these elevations, it is almost always so cold that frost occurs, although occasionally it is very warm all night long, even at as great an altitude as 8000 feet. It adds very much to the pleasure of travelling in the High Sierra that the weather is, by day, almost all summer long, delightfully mild and clear, and without rain; so that one of the greatest discomforts to which tourists are exposed in Switzerland and most other regions of pleasure-travel is here entirely unknown.
Geology.—The geological structure of California is comparatively simple, although the extreme paucity of fossils in the rocks of the gold region for a long time rendered it impossible to ascertain the age of the auriferous belt. It is also true that, for similar reasons, the formations which make up the main body of the Coast Ranges were not easily made out. A geological survey was authorized by the legislature in 1860, and continued, with occasional stoppages, until 1874. In the published volumes and maps which have been issued in the course of this work, almost all that is known with accuracy in regard to the geology and mineral resources of the State may be found.
The Sierra Nevada first claims attention, as being the dominating range, It has a central core or axis of granitic rock, which forms almost the whole body of the range in its southern portion, diminishing in width as it is followed towards the north. All the higher points of the Sierra, in its most elevated portion, are of granite. Farther north there are a few high peaks of metamorphic rock, and many of the summits are capped with volcanic materials. Flanking the granite is a very heavy mass of slaty metamorphic rocks, commonly known as the auriferous belt of the Sierra. This consists chiefly of argillaceous, chloritic, and talcose slates, with a great variety of other metamorphic rocks in smaller amounts, and some large, apparently isolated patches of limestone, which succeed one another in the line of direction of the axis of the range. The strike of the slates is usually parallel with that of the axis of the range, and their dip is, in general, at a high angle towards the east. Low down in the foot-hills, sandstones of Tertiary and Cretaceous age occur in considerable quantity. From the Stanislaus River towards the south, these strata are Tertiary, and they form quite a broad belt on White River and Pose Creek. On the American River, and north of it, the Cretaceous rocks are occasionally well developed and full of organic remains. All these beds rest in almost horizontal position on the upturned edges of the auriferous slates, showing that the elevation and metamorphism of the chain of the Sierra took place previous to the Cretaceous epoch. These beds are of marine origin; but there are very extensive masses of sedimentary materials higher up in the Sierra which are fluviatile and fresh-water deposits, and they are associated with great quantities of volcanic detritus and solid lava which has evidently come down from the higher portions of the chain. The eruptive materials do not usually lie where they were ejected, but seem to have been carried far from their original position by currents of water, as they are made up, in great part, of rolled or brecciated masses, and are interstratified with gravels and finely laminated clays. These latter often contain impressions of leaves and whole trunks of trees, usually silicified, as well as bones of land and aquatic animals. The character of these fossil remains indicates that the formation is of late Tertiary age, and it may be considered as Pliocene. Although the crest of the Sierra is frequently crowned by large masses of volcanic materials, there are no indications of present activity along the range, and only occasionally can remains of ancient crateriform openings be seen. In Plumas County, however, and especially in the neighbourhood of Lassen's Peak, there are several solfataric areas and well-formed cinder cones, some of which exhibit very marked appearances of recent action. From here northward, volcanic masses cover more and more of the higher regions, and almost the whole of the north-eastern corner of the State is exclusively occupied by rocks of this character. Lassen's Peak (10,577 feet) and Mount Shasta (14,440 feet) are both extinct volcanoes, and the latter has, near its summit, hot springs and indications of solfataric action. The auriferous slates of the Sierra contain occasional fossils; and, in quite a number of localities, these have been found in close proximity to well-marked and productive veins of quartz, which are now, or have formerly been, extensively worked for gold. These fossils are of Jurassic age, and no Silurian or Devonian forms have ever been discovered anywhere in the Sierra. In Plumas County, Triassic fossils have also been discovered, but only in one locality of limited extent. These are, however, identical with species belonging to the Alpine Trias, which have been found in large quantities, and in numerous localities, on the eastern side of the Sierra, and which prove that this interesting group of rocks has a wide distribution on the Pacific side of the continent. The limestone belt, already mentioned, appears to be entirely destitute of organic remains, except in the extreme northern part of the State, where, in one or two localities, it has been found to contain well-marked carboniferous types. Farther south, this rock has become much metamorphosed, and is in many places converted into marble, while its organic remains appear to have become entirely obliterated.
The Coast Ranges are made up almost entirely of Cretaceous and Tertiary marine strata, chiefly sandstones and highly bituminous shales. The Cretaceous rocks occur from the Cañada de las Uvas northward along the east side of the Coast Ranges, gradually occupying more and more f-pace in a northerly direction. After passing the Bay of San Francisco, this formation makes up nearly the whole mass of the mountains, which grow more elevated and rougher towards the north, the rocks being much metamorphosed and broken by granitic intrusions. In the vicinity cf Clear Lake (latitude 39°) there is a belt of volcanic materials, accompanied by hot springs, and solfataric action, crossing the ranges from east to west. The Coast Range mountains have been much disturbed, and in part elevated during the most recent geological epoch, as large masses of strata of Pliocene age are found in various localities to have been turned up on edge; but volcanic activity seems to have been more general and continued to a later date in the Sierra than in the Coast Ranges. Some of the granitic masses along the shores of the Pacific are more recent than the Miocene Tertiary, as strata of this age have been uplifted and turned up on edge by the protruding granite. Indeed, everything in the Coast Ranges points to great geological disturbances as having occurred at a very recent date. Among the illustrations of this condition of things, the changes produced by earthquakes in modern times may be cited. Like all the rest of the Pacific coast, California is liable to these disturbances, and this circumstance has undoubtedly had considerable influence in retarding the settlement of the State. No year has been known, since the conquest of the country by the Americans, so disastrous as were the spring and summer of 1812; the destruction of life at that time would probably have been large if California had been as thickly settled as it now is. During the whole of May of that year the southern part of the State was violently agitated, and the disturbances continued with more or less severity through the entire summer. So frequent and violent were the shocks that the people abandoned their houses and slept on the ground. In September the missions of San Juan Capistrano and La Purisima were destroyed, and thirty or forty persons killed at the first-named place; also a considerable number at Purisima, but how many was never ascertained. At Santa Barbara a tidal wave rushed into the interior; but the inhabitants, having observed the previous recession of the sea, had fled to the adjacent high ground, and thus escaped destruction. In the year 1808, in the months of June and July, there were numerous shocks at the Presidio of San Francisco. On the 8th of October 1865 the whole region adjacent to the Bay of San Francisco was violently disturbed, and many buildings thrown down, while hardly one of brick or stone within the city itself escaped injury; but few lives were lost, although great alarm was felt. Since that time there has been no severe shock having its focus near the coast; but in 1872 the whole Sierra Nevada, and the adjacent State of Nevada, were most violently shaken, the centre of the shock having been along the axis of the range, from which the waves were propagated east and west with about equal velocity. Immense quantities of rock were thrown down from the granite pinnacles in the Highest Sierra, The small settlement of Lone Pine, in Owen's Valley, at the east base of the mountains, was completely demolished, and between twenty and thirty persons killed. Luckily the heaviest part of the shock was limited to a region hardly at all inhabited, so that the destruction of life was insignificant in comparison with the extent and violence of the disturbance. Lighter shocks continued to be felt, for two or three months after the first severe one, through the whole extent of Owen's Valley. The extinct or dormant volcanoes, of which there is a fine group midway in the valley between its two extremities, showed no signs of being affected by this exhibition of the seismic forces. There are in the Coast Ranges long and very straight fissures in the rocks, which have been produced by earthquakes in modern times; and these have, in some instances, been accompanied by changes in the relative level of the ground on each side.
Mining.—California was for many years chiefly known to the world as the region where gold was obtained in extraordinarily large quantities. The excitement occasioned by the discovery of the precious metal was very great through out the United States, and this and the finding of an equally important auriferous region in Australia, only two or three years later, produced an immense effect on the commerce of the world, stimulating emigration in a way never before dreamed of. The existence of gold had long been known in California, and washings had been carried on in the southern part of the country, near the San Fernando Mission, for several years, having commenced there as early as 1841. No discovery had been made, however, which attracted much attention, or caused any excitement, previous to the occupation of the country by the Americans. In January 1848, a piece of native gold was picked up in an excavation made for a mill-race on the South Fork of the American River, at a place now called Coloma. It was several months, however, before the number of persons brought together by this discovery had become large; but, by the end of December, washing for gold was going on all along the foot-hills of the Sierra, from the Tuolumne River to the Feather, a distance of 150 miles. The first adventurers came from Mexico, the South American coast, and even from the Sandwich Islands. The excitement extended to the eastern Atlantic States in the course of the autumn and winter succeeding the discovery and, in the spring of 1849, the rush of emigration across the plains, and by way of the Isthmus of Panama, commenced; and it was estimated that 100,000 men reached California during that year, among whom were representatives of every State in the Union. The emigration to the land of gold was continued, with but little abatement, during the three succeeding years; but the excitement fell off in a marked degree in 1854, at which time there was a decided reaction throughout the United States in regard to mining matters. The Californian discoveries had given rise to a general search for metalliferous deposits in the Atlantic States; and this had been followed by wild speculations, a great deal of money having been sunk in opening new mines, and in attempting to develop old ones which had never yielded anything of value. How many miners were actually at work in California at the time of the greatest excitement can only be a matter of conjecture. It is generally believed that not less than 50,000 men were engaged in mining for gold at the close of the year 1850. Those who had good opportunities for observing think that there were as many as 100,000 at work in 1852 and in 1853. At the time of their greatest productiveness, the yield of the Californian gold washings reached about sixty-five millions of dollars in value a year; this was from 1850 to 1853. If there were 75,000 miners actually employed at this time, the average amount obtained must have been fully $8 a day per man. The average is thought by many to have been as high as $20 a day during the year following the first discovery. At this time the diggings for gold were chiefly along the rivers. These were “flumed,”—that is, the water was taken out of the natural channel by means of wooden flumes,—and the accumulations of sand and gravel in the former beds were washed. All the small “gulches” or ravines leading down the sides of the steep and narrow valleys, or cañons, were worked over, either with or without the aid of water. These were the first and richest “placers,” and in them the precious metal was most unequally distributed. Those who first got hold of the rich bars on the American, Yuba, Feather, Stanislaus, and the other smaller streams in the heart of the gold region, made sometimes from one to five thousand dollars a day; these rich spots were chiefly very limited in area, and after one was worked out, it might be days or weeks before another was found.
During the year 1851 the miners, not finding any longer room for employment on the river-bars, began to extend their “prospecting” to the higher ground, and it was not long before it was discovered that the so-called “high gravels”—that is, the detrital deposits of Tertiary age—contained gold, although the quantity was so small that washing it in the ordinary way was not profitable. This led, in 1852, to the invention of the “hydraulic process” of working the auriferous detritus, the idea of which is due to E. E. Matteson, a native of Connecticut. This process has now received an immense development, successive improvements having been made in the method and the machinery for applying it, until the results have become indeed wonderful. The “sluice” which is used with it, and, in fact, in all gold-washing in California at present,—almost without exception,—is also a Californian invention. Previous to its introduction, first the “rocker” and then the “tom” were employed. During the first years of the Californian excitement there was much wandering about within the State and in the adjacent territories in search of new “diggings,” the miners seeming to have the fixed idea that somewhere an auriferous centre or focus would be found, vastly richer than any thing previously discovered. They were an excitable body of men, and frequently left valuable localities in search of something better, always hoping that deposits of unheard-of richness would be developed. Occasionally a kind of frenzy would seem to seize on them, and thousands would flock to some new and perhaps distant locality, on the strength of newspaper reports, where many would perish from disease and starvation, the rest returning in poverty and rags. Thus, in 1855, the Kern River fever raged through the State, at least 5000 miners going to that distant region of the Sierra, only to find that the gold deposits were limited in extent, and already worked out. In 1858 the “Fraser River rush” occurred; and this was more disastrous to California than the most deadly pestilence would have been; for it caused a terrible amount of suffering. Nearly 20,000 men left the State for that remote region, where few met with even moderate success, while all suffered great privations, and many died, the survivors coming back in a state of complete destitution. The shallow “placer diggings” of California are now pretty well worked out, and the gold at present is chiefly obtained from the hydraulic mining operations and from the quartz veins. The deep or high gravels, as they are indiscriminately called, and which are worked by the hydraulic process, lie chiefly in Nevada, Placer, and Sierra counties, in the region extending between the branches of the American and Yuba rivers. These gravels are usually associated with heavy deposits of volcanic materials, and, indeed, they are often entirely covered by immense flows of lava, under which the workings are carried by means of tunnels.
All the operations connected with the exploitation of the large hydraulic “claims” are usually on a grand scale. As much as twenty-five, or even fifty, tons of powder are sometimes used in a single blast to loosen the gravel, so that it can be acted on with ease by the jet of water thrown from the “pipes.” To give an idea of the force of the agent thus employed, it may be stated that, when a six-inch nozzle is used, under a head of 300 feet, as is sometimes done, not less than 1600 cubic feet of water are discharged in one minute, with a velocity of 140 feet per second. The water, as it thus issues from the nozzle, feels to the touch like metal; and it retains its cylindrical form unbroken until it strikes the gravel bank at a distance of a hundred or more feet. The detritus, thus powerfully acted on, crumbles rapidly, and the disintegrated material is carried by the current into the sluice-boxes, where it leaves its auriferous particles in the “rifles,” which are chinks or cavities between the bars or blocks of wood or stone with which the bottom of the sluice are lined. Gold-mining in the solid rock—or quartz-mining, as it is usually called, because the gangue or vein-stone which carries the gold is almost exclusively quartz—is also extensively carried on in California, having been begun as early as 1851. The mines are scattered over the State from San Diego to Plumas counties; but the most important and productive ones are in Amador and Nevada. The distribution of the gold in the veins is exceedingly irregular, and, consequently, the business of quartz-mining has been, in most cases, a very uncertain one. A large number of the principal workings are on, or in the neighbourhood of, what is known in California as the “Great Quartz Vein,” or the “Mother Lode,” an immense development of quartz, which has been traced from Mariposa County to Amador, over a distance of eighty miles,—not continuously, but in a series of nearly parallel belts, or lenticular masses, with barren intervals between them; these have very nearly the same direction, and are parallel with the axis of the Sierra. It is on the Great Quartz Vein that the celebrated Mariposa mines are situated; which, however, have not, on the whole, proved successful. In the same position are the mines of Amador County, among which the one formerly called the Hayward Mine is the best known, and for a long time one of the most profitable. The mass of quartz worked in this mine was of great size, although of low tenure in gold. It was, for some years, the deepest mine in the country; but several of those on the Comstock Lode in Nevada have now attained a considerably greater depth.
Silver-mining has been attempted in many localities in California, and much money spent in trying to develop the argentiferous lodes which have from time to time been discovered. A few years ago, there was a great excitement on the very summit of the Sierra in regard to supposed valuable silver-bearing veins, and particularly at a locality called Meadow Lake, in Nevada County. Quite a number of mining camps and towns were built up, one of which had for a time several thousand inhabitants. Nothing permanently valuable was discovered, however, and the region was soon entirely abandoned. The most persistent efforts have been made, for the past ten years, to work argentiferous deposits in the volcanic rocks near the summit of the Sierra, in Alpine County, at and near Silver Mountain. Although it does not appear that any mine in this region has been successful, the expenditure is still kept up. Slate Range, a little to the east of Owen's Lake, was the scene of considerable excitement some ten or twelve years ago, rich silver ores having been discovered there; but it was found that mining could not be made profitable in that distant region destitute of water and fuel. Quite recently, the Panamint Range, in the same vicinity, has attracted much attention. The only paying silver mines in the State seem, however, to be those in the Inyo Range, at Cerro Gordo, where the ore is chiefly galena, rich in silver, and also containing considerable gold. The yield of this district in the year 1872 was nearly a million of dollars in value, six-tenths of which was silver.
Quicksilver has been extensively mined in California, the mine of this metal at New Almaden, Santa Clara County, having been worked previous to the gold excitement. All the workable deposits of cinnabar thus far known to exist are situated in the Coast Ranges, and they are chiefly limited to the metamorphic Cretaceous group of rocks, in which they are associated with serpentine, imperfect jasper, hornstone, and chalcedony. By far the most important mines are those at New Almaden, a few miles west of San Jose. These produced, in their palmy days, during the years 1853 to 1857, and 1861 to 1869, from 2,500,000 to 3,500,000 ℔ of quicksilver per annum. In 1870, the production had fallen off to 1,000,000 ℔. The total production of the New Almaden mines between 1850 and 1870 was a little over 40,000,000 ℔. The New Idria Mine is in Monterey County, about ninety miles south of New Almaden. This has also been, for some years, a quicksilver-producing locality of considerable importance. Cinnabar also occurs in considerable quantity at numerous places north of the Bay of San Francisco, in Napa and Lake counties. The most important mine in this region is the Redington, near Knoxville, in Lake County. The export of this metal from California was, in former years, very large, reaching, in 1868, the amount of 44,506 flasks, or 3,404,709 ℔; in 1870, it was only 6,359 flasks, although the production for that year was estimated at 28,600 flasks, or 2,187,900 ℔, of which 12,000 were the product of the New Almaden mine, 7600 of the New Idria, and of the remainder, about one-half was from the Redington, and the rest from various smaller mines north of the Bay of San Francisco.
Copper ores occur in a great many localities within the limits of the state of California, and at some of these a large amount of work has been done, although at the present time there does not seem to be a single locality where the ores of this metal are now mined. Quite large masses of nearly pure native copper, mixed with the red oxide have been found in the north-western corner of the State, and also farther south in the Coast Ranges. No permanent mine has, however, yet been developed at any point on the west of the Great Valley. In the foot-hills of the Sierra, at a place known as Copperopolis, in Calaveras County, there is a very extensive deposit of copper ore, which was actively mined some ten years ago, producing very largely for a time. The mass of ore here was, in places, as much as 30 feet wide, although not of high grade. In 1864 the value of the shipments of copper ore from California was a little over a million dollars; this was almost all from one mine, the Union, at Copperopolis. Tin has been discovered at one locality in the southern part of the State, in the Temescal Range, about forty miles south-east of Los Angeles; and mining was attempted here, but the locality has been for some time abandoned. Zinc and lead occur, in the form of the sulphuret, in a great number of the quartz veins of the gold-bearing belt; they are generally present, however, only in small quantity, and have not been made the object of mining enterprise. Iron ores are also found, in several localities, in large quantity; the want of suitable cheap fuel has prevented these ores from being utilized, and all the iron consumed on the Pacific coast comes from the Atlantic States or from Great Britain. Coal of the true Carboniferous period does not occur anywhere on the North American continent west of the eastern base of the Cordilleras; but there are, at various points, extensive deposits of lignite and imperfect coal; in some of these, the woody structure is entirely obliterated, and the substance may with propriety be called coal. It is rarely the case, however, that it does not contain a large percentage of water. These deposits are both of Tertiary and Cretaceous age; but at the localities extensively worked in California and on Vancouver Island, the beds belong exclusively to the last-named group. The only mines of coal of any consequence in California are those of Monte Diablo, so called because situated on the north slope of that mountain, and a few miles from the entrance of the San Joaquin River into Suisun Bay. The coal raised at these mines is of tolerably good quality for domestic use; but it cannot be used for ocean steaming or for making gas, as it contains a large amount of sulphur, and from 10 to 12 per cent. of water. These mines have yielded of late about 175,000 tons per annum. There is also a large deposit of about the same quality, and the same geological age, on Eel River, in Mendocino County. This is too far from navigable water to be utilized at present, as it cannot compete with the more accessible deposits on Vancouver Island, and at Bellingham and Coos bays, or with those more recently opened near Seattle in Washington Territory. Petroleum was thought likely, at one time, to become of great importance as a product of California, and several millions of dollars were expended in boring and searching for it, but almost entirely without success. The great bituminous slate formation, of Miocene age, which stretches along the coast from Monterey to Los Angeles, does, indeed, contain a large amount of combustible matter, which may at some future time become of economical value. At present there seems to be no immediate prospect of this; and it is certain that the geological conditions are such that flowing wells, like those of Pennsylvania, will not be found on the Pacific coast. Borax is one of the mineral productions of California, which is becoming of some importance. The value of the exports of this article from San Francisco in 1873 was over $400,000. Of this, however, a considerable portion came from the adjacent State of Nevada. Sulphur has been mined in several localities, to some extent, for the manufacture of sulphuric acid. Marble occurs in many places in the Sierra Nevada, and is quarried for ordinary architectural purposes. Granite and freestone are abundantly distributed; the former exists in inexhaustible quantity on the line of the Central Pacific Railroad, the latter near San Francisco and in many other places in the Coast Ranges.
Fauna.—Somewhat over a hundred species of mammalia
have been found in California. Among the most interesting
are the grizzly bear (Ursus horribilis), formerly very common,
but now only met with in out-of-the way localities;
they are especially abundant in the Coast Ranges south of
Monterey—the Santa Lucia Range. They are savage and
powerful animals, but do not care to attack men unless
suddenly intruded upon, or when with their young. The
black bear (U. americanus) is still pretty common in the
higher parts of the mountains; and the so-called cinnamon
and brown bear are supposed to be varieties of this species.
The sea lions (Eumetopias stelleri) are of little value
commercially, but they excite a great deal of interest on account
of their size, their strange gambols and extraordinary
noises; they abound on the coast, and especially on the
Farallones. Visitors to San Francisco from abroad rarely
fail to go to the beach opposite Seal Rock, an isolated point
near the city, and almost always crowded with these
animals, whose curious habits can be watched from the
mainland at a short distance. The beaver (Castor
canadensis) was formerly very common in the State, and many
are still left. The spermophiles, or ground squirrels, are
extremely abundant, and great nuisances; the ground is
often honey-combed for miles with their burrows. The
large hare-squirrel and the tiny pine-squirrel are common
in the mountains. Gophers are very troublesome to the
farmers; there are five species of them, the largest
(Thomomys bulbivorus) being abundant in the central
portion of the State near the coast. The elk (Cervus
canadensis), formerly found in great numbers in California, is
now almost exterminated, unless it be in the northern
counties, in the recesses of whose forests they may be still
occasionally seen. The deer (C. leucurus) is quite common,
at a distance from settlements, and especially in the
southern High Sierra. A few antelopes are still met with;
but when the Americans first entered California, these
animals were seen in immense herds all over the plains of
the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys. The mountain
sheep (Ovis montana) is also nearly exterminated. Of
birds, over three hundred and fifty species have been
described as occurring in California. Some of the most
characteristic of this State are the road-runner (Geococcyx
californianus), nearly allied to the cuckoo, but like a
pheasant in its habits of running and inability to fly; the
California woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus), which
has the curious habit of boring holes in the bark of trees
and filling them with acorns, which fit most accurately and
closely in the cavities thus made. The object of this
arrangement appears to be, to allow the grubs to fatten
inside the acorns, which thus in time are found to contain
a nice meal for the provident bird. The California vulture
(Cathartes californianus), the largest flying bird in North
America, is not limited to this State, but is common there.
The sage hen (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a fine game
bird, found in abundance on the east slope of the Sierra,
among the “sage-brush.” Two species of quail are very
abundant, and very characteristic, in the State,—Oreortyx
pictus and Lophortyx californica. They both have elegant
crests of long narrow feathers, in one species turned
backwards, in the other forwards. Fish are very abundant on
the coast; salmon are caught in great numbers in the
Sacramento River, and are an important article of food,
especially in Oregon. Sturgeon are also abundant; and as
their flesh is sold at a very low price, it is much eaten by
those who are obliged to be economical. The salmon is also
in this respect a very valuable fish. The so-called
“rock-fish” are among the fish most abundant in the San
Francisco market, and perhaps the most characteristic. They
belong to the genus Sebastes, and there are several species of
different colours. Smelts are abundant; but they are not
true smelts, and are inferior to them as an article of food.
There are several fish of the flat-fish family, and called soles
and turbot, although in no case are the species identical
with tnose found on the Atlantic coast or in Euro
Tom-cod is abundant in the winter months, and although
small, it is one of the best of the fishes of the coast. The
barracouta (Sphyræna argentea) is decidedly the
best-flavoured fish found on the coast; but it is not at all
common. The oysters of the Californian coast are small;
but foreign ones are planted in the Bay of San Francisco,
where they grow rapidly. Hard-shell clams and mussels
are abundant, and are eaten in considerable quantity. The
haliotis called Abelone is taken in great numbers, but
eaten exclusively by the Chinese. Crabs, lobsters, and
shrimps, are abundant on the coast; and they are used to
some extent as food. The variety of species of the crab
family is very great, and some of them are very large.
Quite serious attempts have been made, under the auspices
of the United States Fish Commissioner, to introduce some
of the eastern fishes into Californian waters, especially the
shad; but these trials have not yet led to any satisfactory
Flora—The vegetation of California has many features of interest. The great extent of the State and the varied character of its surface are strongly impressed upon its flora. A great number of botanists and professional seed collectors have visited California from time to time; but no general review of all the species has ever been made, although such a one is now in progress under the auspices of the Geological Survey. The entire number of species found in the State is estimated at about 2500. There is not so great a variety of forest-trees as would naturally have been expected; and many of the most useful varieties are entirely wanting. The forests have, in places, and especially along the Sierra, at an elevation of from 2000 to 6000 or 7000 feet, a character of grandeur hardly surpassed in any part of the world. Many of the trees are of gigantic dimensions. Coniferous trees greatly predominate in the densely wooded portion of the State. Of the pines, the sugar pine (Pinus Lambertiana) is perhaps the finest tree, reaching occasionally 300 feet in height. Its wood is valuable for inside work, and it is much used in the Sierra, where the tree is chiefly found. This, and the Pinus Coulteri, have cones of great size. Pinus sabiniana, the digger pine or nut pine, is the characteristic tree of the foot-hills of the Sierra, where it occurs associated with the black oak (Q. sonomensis), sparsely scattered over the hillsides, and never in dense forests. This is the foot-hill arboreal vegetation. Rising a litle higher, at an elevation of 3000 to 5000 feet, the pitch pine (P. ponderosa), the sugar pine, the white or bastard cedar (Libocedrus decurrens), and the Douglas spruce (Abies Douglasii) are the predominating and characteristic trees. Still higher, the firs come in, namely the Picea grandis and the amabilis, as well as the tamarack pine (P. contorta). This belt ranges at from 7000 to 9000 feet elevation in the Sierra, through the central portion of the State. The big tree (Sequoia gigantea) belongs to the same belt as the sugar pine, Douglas spruce, and pitch pine. This tree occurs in groves or patches from latitude 36° to 38° 15', nowhere descending much below 4000 feet in elevation, or rising above 7000. There are eight or nine of these patches of big trees, and by far the largest is that one which extends along the tributaries of King's and Kaweah rivers, about thirty miles N.N.E. of Visalia. This belt is probably over ten miles in length , the trees are, however, not grouped by themselves, but stand scattered among other species. The tallest big tree yet discovered measures 352 feet in height. The circumference of the largest, near the ground sometimes reaches nearly 100 feet. Many are over fifty feet in circumference, at 6 feet above the ground. One in the Calaveras Grove, which was cut down, measured 24 feet and 1½ inches in diameter, without the bark, at 6 feet above the ground; this would probably have measured about 27 feet with the bark. Its age was a little less than 1300 years. As the big tree is exclusively limited to California and to the Sierra Nevada, so the only other species of the same genus, the redwood (S. sempervirens), is peculiarly a Coast Range tree. It is found chiefly in the counties north of San Francisco Bay, where it forms magnificent forests, exclusively limited to this one species. A few of these trees may be found beyond the line dividing the State from Oregon; but this species, as well as the big tree, is peculiarly Californian. The wood, although brittle and splintery, is durable, and much used for building purposes in San Francisco. In size, this tree is very little inferior to the Sequoia gigantea. It appears that this species cannot thrive except where it is frequently visited by the ocean fogs. Another characteristic Coast Range tree is the California laurel (Tetranthera californica), which has a beautifully grained wood much valued for cabinet-work. Some species of Coniferous trees occurring in the Coast Ranges are very limited in their range; as, for instance, the well-known ornamental tree, the Pinus insignis, which is found near Monterey, and the Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa), of which there is a magnificent grove at Cypress Point, near Carmelo Bay. The Abies bracteata is another of these trees of singularly limited distribution. The Douglas fir, or spruce, on the other hand, is spread over a vast area in California, Oregon, Washington Territory, and through the Rocky Mountains. Of shrubs, the manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens) is a very characteristic one, being found all over the Sierra Nevada in dry places; the California buckeye (Æsculus californica) is another low-spreading tree or shrub, abundantly distributed through the Sierra and in the coast valleys; and another shrub, called by the Spanish the chamiso (Adenostema fasciculata), is widely scattered up and down the Sierra and Coast Ranges. The chamiso and the manzanita, with a variety of shrubby oaks and other thorny plants, when combined together in a dense and sometimes quite impenetrable undergrowth, form what is called by the Spanish a “chaparral.” If the chamiso occurs alone, the thicket is known as a “chamisal.” The oaks are very characteristic trees of the California Valley, to which they often give by their graceful grouping in isolated clumps a wonderfully park-like character. The burr oak (Q. lobata) is the most striking of these trees, growing to a great size, and having peculiar, gracefully-drooping branches. The elm, the hickory, the beech, the chestnut, and many other of the most characteristic and useful trees of the Eastern States, are entirely wanting in California. One valuable variety of the ash occurs, but only in limited numbers, and there is no species of maple which is suitable for use. Indeed, there is no wood on the Pacific coast from which any part of the running-gear of a good waggon can be made; consequently there is a large importation into the State, from the Atlantic side, of timber for this and similar purposes; while, on the other hand, the ornamental forest-trees of California are already widely spread over the world.
Agriculture.—The amount of land in California, which can properly be called tillable, cannot be stated with any approach to accuracy; and the estimates would vary, according as the peculiarities of the climate, and the possibilities of artificial irrigation, were taken into consideration. A large part of the State consists of barren deserts or precipitous mountains, either too rough, or too elevated, or too dry for cultivation under any circumstances. A considerable portion of the Great Valley will not yield sufficiently to pay for cultivation, unless a thorough system of irrigation should be adopted. Extensive districts produce valuable crops when the season has been wet enough; and an excess of rain which is injurious in one part of the State is of great benefit in another. The number of acres of “improved land” in the state, as given by the census of 1870, was 6,218,133; but Mr Hittell, in the third edition of his Resources of California, published in 1867, estimates the amount of cultivated land at only 1,000,000 acres. The same authority says, “Not more than one acre in ten could now be tilled profitably.” Allowing the census returns to be correct, the proportion of improved land would be about one-eighteenth of the whole. Owing to the peculiarities of the climate, and especially its mildness in winter, and the dryness of the summer, the whole system of cultivation is very different in California from what it is in the Mississippi Valley and the Eastern States. If the season is favourable, that is, if rain falls in abundance by November, so that the ground becomes soft enough to plough, then sowing is begun at once, and the best crops are raised when the “latter rains,”—as they are usually called,—which fall in March and April, are tolerably abundant, and yet not so much so as to cause inundations. June and July are the harvest months, and the grain can remain out of doors during the whole summer without injury, or until it can be conveniently carried away, barns being little used. Almost everything, except ploughing, in connection with agricultural work, is done on a large scale, with the help of machinery; and the profitable farms are usually of great size, comprising many thousand acres. According to the census of 1870, the amount of the principal productions of the soil was in that year as follows:— wheat, 16,676,702 bushels; barley, 8,780,490 bushels; wool, 11,391,743 ℔; potatoes, 2,049,227 bushels; wine, 1,814,656 gallons; butter, 7,969,744 ℔. Barley is the most certain crop raised, and wheat and wool are the most important for exportation. The Californian wheat is of the finest quality, and is largely shipped to foreign countries. In 1873, according to the statistics of the San Francisco Commercial Herald, the shipments of wheat and flour were as follows: to Great Britain, of flour, 245,708 barrels, and of wheat, 9,152,303 quintals; to China, flour, 125,891 barrels; to Central America, flour, 42,835 barrels; to Japan, flour, 9566 barrels; to Panama, flour, 12,777 barrels; to Australia, wheat, 22,400, bushels; with other smaller amounts to numerous ports in and about the Pacific. The total shipments for the years 1871-1873 were as follows:—
|Flour, barrels.||Wheat, quintals.||Barley, quintals.|
Fruit is an item of great importance in the agriculture of California, the quantity raised being very large, and the quality excellent. The pear, plum, apricot, and grape are especially good; and large quantities would be sent to the Eastern States if the distance were not such as to make it difficult and expensive to transport this bulky and perishable commodity. A large amount of capital has been invested in the manufacture of wine. As early as 1861 a million of gallons were made in that year, and in 1870 the product was estimated at 2,500,000 gallons. The principal wine-producing districts are in the vicinity of Sonoma, north of the Bay of San Francisco, and in the region about Los Angeles. The value of the exports of wine has not increased much in the last three or four years; in 1873 it was $356,373. The quantity of wine which might be produced in California, if there were a market for it, would be very large; but the quality is not all that could be desired, although the persons engaged in this business are sanguine in the belief that, with time and experience, the difficulties will be overcome, and their products be largely in demand in the Eastern States where at present there is scarcely any sale for them.
California is a country particularly adapted to raising sheep, and the wool interest is a very important one. The winters are so mild that shelter for the flocks is not required, and they have no other food than that which they pick up for themselves on the lower plains in winter, and in the higher mountain valleys in the summer. The summit valleys of the Sierra are literally alive with sheep during the months of July, August, and September, countless herds being driven there from the parched-up plains at the base of the range. In 1873, according to the Commercial Herald, about 30,000,000 ℔ of wool were exported from San Francisco, and 3,000,000 ℔ consumed in the home manufactories.
Manufactures.—The value of the manufactures of California is given, in the census report of 1870, at $66,594,536 the increase having been rapid within the past ten years; previous to 1860 almost every manufactured article used in the State was imported from the East or from Europe. The great distance of the Pacific coast from the manufacturing districts of the world offers a heavy premium for the establishment of various industries, especially for those which furnish bulky and inexpensive products, such as wooden wares, agricultural implements, machinery, coarse articles of clothing, and vehicles. The drawbacks are, the high price of labour, where the Chinese cannot be employed; the absence of good coal, and the scarcity of other fuel; the distance of the water-power from the principal markets, and its high cost at all points, which is due to the necessity of building long canals, dams, and other appliances for storing and utilizing the water; and the absence of those woods which are most needed for the innumerable uses to which this material is put in manufacturing. There are certain articles, however, which have to be made in California, because the people of other countries find it difficult to ascertain exactly what is needed to meet the requirements of the Pacific coast. Thus, mining machinery is a very important article of Californian manufacture, and many improvements have been made in this department, called out by the peculiar wants of this State and of Nevada. The manufacture of heavy woollen goods, especially blankets, is an item of importance, there being three large establishments of this kind in San Francisco. Leather is tanned in considerable quantity in the coast counties, and the exports of this article amounted in value, in 1872, to the sum of $258,692. Boots and shoes are manufactured in large quantity for home consumption and from native leather.
Population.—The population of California is concentrated in and around San Francisco; and it becomes rapidly less dense as one recedes from the centre. The extreme northern and southern counties are very thinly inhabited. The central part of the State, embraced between the parallels of 36° 20' and 40° including only one-third of its whole area, contained in 1865 over ninety-five per cent, of the population. A region of 4000 square miles adjacent to the Bay of San Francisco includes probably half of the entire number of inhabitants in the State,—San Francisco alone, by the last census, having 38 per cent. of the whole. The reasons of this concentration around the bay are not difficult to find; the climate is more agreeable and healthier, and the valleys which open out to its waters are the most delightful and most fertile portions of the state. The desire of concentration is strongly felt in a region where the country is so thinly settled, and where the facilities of communication are not great, and schools and churches far apart, or wanting altogether. Those who have made fortunes in mining come to “the Bay” to spend them; those who have lost their all, or become “strapped,”—to use the miner's phrase,—go to the great city to find employment. And San Francisco is not only the metropolis of California, but of the whole Pacific coast. There is not another city or town having one-tenth of its population anywhere from Alaska to Panama. It has the only really good harbour along the entire line of coast from Lower California north to Puget Sound, that of San Diego excepted, and this has a desert region behind it, where settlements cannot be made. The population of San Francisco, by the census of 1870, was 149,473, having increased to that number in the previous decade from 56,802, the gain of the city being relatively considerably greater than that of the State itself. Sacramento city, the capital, is the only other town in California which has as much as one-tenth of this number. It is claimed, indeed, that the present (1876) population of San Francisco is not less than 250,000, the increase having been unusually large during the past year, which has been, on the whole, a very prosperous one for the State. The other large towns are—Sacramento, 16,283; Oakland, 10,500; San Jose, 9089; Grass Valley, 7063; and Los Angeles, 5728,—all these figures being those of the census of 1870. The population of the whole State, according to the same authority, was, in 1870, 582,031, an increase of 53 per cent. since the previous census of 1860. The growth of California has not been in the years from 1860 to 1870 as rapid as in the decade preceding that, when the increase amounted to 310 per cent. Remarkable as has been the development of this State, it does not equal that of some of those of the Mississippi Valley during the same period. Thus Iowa gained more between the years 1860 and 1870 than did California, although having only one-third of the area of that State; and in the decade previous to that her gain was relatively nearly equal to that of the Golden State, and actually twice as great. The actual increase of population in Massachusetts, with its area of only 7800 square miles, was greater in the years 1860-1870 than was that of California.
The brilliant discoveries of metalliferous deposits in Nevada, wholly developed within the past fifteen years, have added much to the wealth and resources of California, for the ties of business are nearly as strong between the two States as if there were no political line of division between them. Nearly all the capital invested in the region at the eastern base of the Sierra came from the Pacific side of the mountains, and most of the machinery used there has been constructed in San Francisco. Nevada takes a large amount of the surplus agricultural products of California, and gives bullion in exchange, that being the only thing she produces for exportation.
The Chinese element in California is a peculiar and interesting feature. By the last census there were 49,310 of that race in the State. They are settled in great numbers in San Francisco, where they are house-servants, and operatives in the manufacturing establishments, which could not be successfully carried on with white labour. They also work the abandoned placers, although the amount of their gains in this operation must usually be very small, as they are only allowed to occupy spots supposed by the white men to have been quite worked out. “The white miners have a great dislike to Chinamen, who are frequently driven away from their claims, and expelled from districts by mobs. In such cases the officers of the law do not ordinarily interfere; and, no matter how much the unfortunate yellow men may be beaten or despoiled, the law does not attempt to restore them to their rights or avenge their wrongs” (Hittell, in Resources of California, 3d ed. p. 375).
General Considerations.—Finally, California has in its favour its immense extent of area, its variety of physical configuration, the fertility of a portion of its soil, and, above all, the mildness and attractiveness of its climate. Its position on the Pacific is one which justifies the confident expectation that the commercial interests of San Francisco will continue to increase in magnitude, since it must always concentrate the trade of an immense area. There are some conditions which may eventually operate powerfully to retard the development of this State. Of these the most important is, perhaps, the wastefulness of the present method of agriculture, by which crops are continually taken from the soil, and nothing restored to it. Another serious matter is the constant wholesale destruction of the forests going on in the Coast Ranges and in the Sierra; there is reason to fear that this will eventually have a disastrous effect on the regimen of the rivers, causing inundations in the spring and excessive droughts in summer. The danger from earthquakes has already been alluded to; and there is no question that it has had and will continue to have an influence in retarding the growth of the State, as there is not the least doubt that it similarly affects the whole South American Pacific coast. The facility with which the legislature can be manipulated, and brought to sanction schemes fraught with injury to the people, is not a circumstance peculiar to California; although, in several instances, heavy blows have in this way been struck at the prosperity of San Francisco. The distrust of the legislature often leads the people to reject that which is good, from the fear that an undertaking which looks well at the start may be so managed as to result in ruin. Thus, it seems impossible to carry out any general system of irrigation, or of forest culture and preservation, desirable as these things may be, because the people have no confidence in anything which has to be managed by the legislature, or which can be interfered with by that body at any time, and diverted to the subservience of private ends, to the injury of the public. (J. D. W.)
[Compiled according to Census of 1880 and latest surveys.]
|ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, NINTH EDITION|