Hydraulic mining was the worst ecological
disaster to ever hit California. The entire valley you see here is a giant hole in the
ground left where mountains were washed away downstream to get at the gold. River valleys
were buried under hundreds of feet of gravel. In the 1860's, the towns of Marysville and
Yuba City were buried under 25 feet of mud and rock, and Sacramento flooded repeatedly.
- Your view is from the middle of a giant hole in the ground. In the direction you are
looking the hole extends all the way to the far bluffs. Since mining stopped in the 1880s,
erosion has filled up the valley 250 feet. Producing the flat valley floor below you.
- Even though left undisturbed for over a hundred years, only sparse shrubs and stunted
trees have regrown on the exposed rock and mining tailings.
- To your right, the chiseled bluff is eroding slowly, but at least it is stable. Straight
ahead, the relatively featureless bluff is an active landslide slipping and eroding
significantly each year.
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