Gold and Lumber: Two Papers on Northern California History and Archaeology

Author(s): Trudy Vaughn; Eric W. Ritter; Dottie Smith

Editor(s): Eric W. Ritter

Year: 1992


This report is a compilation of two papers on the history and archaeology of the Shasta County area in Northern California. The two papers are:

1) Historical and Archaeological Investigations of the Horsetown Mining Complex, Shasta County, California

2) The Historic Blue Ridge Flume of Shasta and Tehama Counties, California

Paper One: In the spring of 1991, historical and archaeological investigations were conducted on approximately 40 acres of federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in southwestern Shasta County. The project area l1es in the vicinity of the historic community of Horsetown, settled in 1849. The study area, BLM Site CA-030-475, represents a microcosm of gold mining history in northern California. Physical remains from all major mining techniques in the north state are present. Features recorded include an extensive system of trenches and associated rock work, a rock dam, ditches, a granite quarry, adits, and tailings.

The trench system includes 24 trenches cut by hand through a soft geologic formation known as Nomlaki tuff. While drainage systems for placer mining are common, this geologic structure within gold-bearing beds facilitated construction of this web of narrow trenches. The miners took advantage of these soft tuffaceous beds to carve narrow, sometimes very deep trenches; and it appears the miners used these beds to good advantage, economizing their use of water and perhaps accelerating local gold production.

The site area has the potential for eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places under criteria "a" and "C"i and it possesses good integrity of location, design, setting,materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. The trench system, in the context of its temporal placement and cultural associations, appears to be an unusual feature, one unique or at least rare in the region and, perhaps, in California. Should other tuff-cut drainage trenches be located, it is felt that this system will probably remain as an outstanding example due to the local mining history and unique geologic situation, coupled with the topographic setting, the large number of trenches, and the good integrity of the trench system.

Paper Two: The Blue Ridge Flume was a 42-mile V-flume initially constructed in 1872 to transport rough-cut lumber quickly and safely from the remote Manton and Viola area sawmills of Shasta and Tehama counties to a Red Bluff planing mill. From the time it was built, and throughout its short history (1872-1878) before its abandonment and eventual destruction by lumber and hardware thieves, it was looked upon with awe and wonderment.

Today, the Blue Ridge Flume is largely a memory. There are no standing remains of this massive structure, although scattered remnants can be found along its route, including rock piers and scattered boards, hardware and other artifacts.

The Blue Ridge Flume played a very important role in the development of the north state's lumber industry, Tehama and Shasta counties, and the city of Red Bluff. It appears to be part of a system of National Register of Historic Places quality. Management of portions of the system's route by the Bureau of Land Management will help in presenting the story of this flume's history and value to the public through eventual interpretive displays and other means.

Cite this Record

Gold and Lumber: Two Papers on Northern California History and Archaeology. Trudy Vaughn, Eric W. Ritter, Dottie Smith, Eric W. Ritter. Cultural resources publications - history/archaeology. Redding, CA: Bureau of Land Management. 1992 ( tDAR id: 394046) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8V989D6

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -122.601; min lat: 40.434 ; max long: -122.249; max lat: 40.811 ;

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