Close to the South Yuba River in Northern California, Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park preserves and interprets the 1850's - 1880's hydraulic mining era, when gold seekers combed the Sierra foothills and washed away whole mountains looking for the precious metal.
Approx 20 miles NE of Nevada City is this amazing State Historic Park.
Please enlarge to read.
The two photos above show only a little bit of the pit. The pit is about 6,800' long from SW to NE and it ranges from 1,000-3,800' wide from north to south. Landslides and erosion have changed the pit from the days of hydraulic mining. Where Jimmy is standing used to be 100'- 300' deeper! Soil deposits have accumulated on the pit floor, and native vegetation has grown into the once-exposed areas.
Giant high-pressure monitors like the one above directed powerful streams of water to wash the gold from rock at the pit. An 8-inch nozzle could throw water 200 feet in an unbroken mass and wash 50-pound stones 100' downstream. At capacity, the resulting water power could work 100,000 tons of gravel per day. Hard to imagine that kind of power that can wash away a mountain and devastate pristine landscape. Silt traveled all the way to San Francisco Bay! Towns and farms were flooded, lives were lost. This led to the first environmental law enacted in the nation. Fascinating history, worth reading up on.
The miners dug a 7,847' drainage tunnel thru bedrock from the Diggins pit to Humbug Creek in 1872. Most of it has collapsed. Jimmy is standing at an opening near the Diggins. (enlarge sign for the You Are Here arrow).
The Park has more than 20 miles of scenic foothill hiking trails. We hiked into the pit, but the sun was hot. We'll go back when it's cooler to hike around and explore. We only touched the surface.
In what's left of North Bloomfield town, Jimmy peers in a barbershop window. A town tour given by the Ranger took us inside both original and a few restored bldgs. Jimmy and I were the only people in town this day, so we had a long, interesting tour!
Between the Diggins pit and the town of North Bloomfield, we paid a visit to the old cemetery. Many of the graves were marked by simple wooden crosses or boards like the one above. This man died in 1885 at the age of 83.
And then, there's this! These free-range cows were very musical, each one having a jangling bell around it's neck - keeps the bears away, maybe? Too bad we didn't drive Smartie to the Diggins today - it would've been right at home parking next to the Ranger's "Bumble-bee" Smartie!
An Alaskan grizzly bear (donated by a bank!) found a home at the Museum.
I didn't find any gold. I found silver instead!
A good day, indeed!