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Gold Rush Panorama

The 1848 discovery of gold in California initiated the development of a variety of techniques for extracting gold from rivers and hillsides. Hydraulic mining featured huge nozzles that washed away gravel hills, releasing the heavier gold particles that settled in sluice boxes, while the mud and debris washed downstream.

"Hydraulicking" boomed in the Sierra Nevada foothills from 1852 until it was halted by Judge Lorenzo Sawyer in 1884 after farmers filed suit over the devastating effects of debris on the valleys below. Malakoff Diggins State Park, in Nevada County, where the panorama below was taken, was the site of the North Bloomfield Mining Company where hydraulic mining once flourished.

As you view the panorama, identify the effects of gold mining on the land and on the people who lived and worked in the region. Use the linked quotations to assist you in your interpretation.

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Gold Rush Panorama

Credits: Photographs by Carolyn Merchant; panorama assembly and web page by Rob Weinberg.