Chapter Outline

I. Gold Mining in California

Discussion Questions

1. What major differences exist between metallic resources (such as lead, copper, gold and silver) and those previously studied: furs, timber, and soils? Discuss each. Is ownership of mineral rights the same as ownership of land? What major difference exists and how does it influence resource use?

2. What is meant by a renewable resource? A nonrenewable resource? A recyclable resource? Biodegradable? Are some of these categories anthropocentric or too simplistic? Explain how.

3. How did Indians interact with their environment before the Gold Rush? What impact did the Gold Rush have on their way of life?

4. Compare and contrast the kinds of opportunities and problems that existed for black and Chinese miners in the Gold Rush.

5. Describe and assess the 19th century environmental effects of panning, river bottom, hydraulic, and hard rock (or tunnel) mining technologies.

6. What economic and environmental controversy underlay the encounter between miners and farmers over hydraulic mining in California? How did the protagonists use the legal system to resolve the dispute?

7. How does Sarah Royce characterize the mining camps? Discuss the roles of men and women in western mining camps. How do you account for gender role differences?

8. Compare the social factors involved in each form of gold mining. Consider individualism, class and social stratification, democracy, and the role of minorities.