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The Hydraulic Mining Pit at Malakoff
Malakoff Diggins State Historical Park, California

Placer gold occurs in the gravels of most of the streams and rivers of the Sierra Nevada, and the first generation of miners literally picked it up from the river bars. Next they diverted the rivers and sifted through the river bed gravels. Then they discovered that several rivers had changed their courses, and river-bed gravels rich in gold occurred in unlikely places such as San Juan Ridge between the forks of the Yuba River. The problem was how to recover this gold so far from natural sources of water.

The higher tributaries of the Yuba were dammed and the water diverted into flumes, then directed down canvas hoses and iron pipes to the south side of San Juan Ridge. Huge nozzles, known as monitors, blasted water at the cliffs and washed down the gold bearing gravels into devices for extracting the gold. Then the detritus continued downstream, eventually all the way to San Francisco Bay.

The result was a scarp of orange cliffs up to 600 feet high and over a mile long, reminiscent of a man-made Bryce Canyon. The mining at Malakoff began in 1863 and lasted until it was stopped by court order in 1884. By that time the debris had begun to bury towns and rich agricultural areas in the Sacramento Valley, exacerbate flooding of the state capital of Sacramento, and even choking San Francisco Bay.

Today the great Malakoff pit is a peaceful place, forests regrowing and dotted with shallow ponds. In another century it will be hard to imagine what a scene of destruction it was orignally.

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
Wikipedia: Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park

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Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, California

Date photographed: June 11, 2012
See location in Google Maps


Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, California

Date photographed: June 11, 2012
See location in Google Maps


Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, California

Date photographed: June 11, 2012
See location in Google Maps


Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, California

Date photographed: June 11, 2012
See location in Google Maps


Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, California

Date photographed: June 11, 2012
See location in Google Maps


Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, California

Date photographed: June 11, 2012
See location in Google Maps


Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, California

Date photographed: June 11, 2012
See location in Google Maps

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