Gold Rush In California

987 Words 4 Pages
Why did Americans in California in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries engage in unsustainable relationships with the natural world?
Americans and other immigrant’s to California were driven by the pursuit of gold and wealth which led to unsustainable relationships which they maintained with their natural environment. Having little knowledge of the natural world, they were all out to exploit the resources: Gold without any sense of its availability and implications of mining to the environment. In this paper, I will dwell into various aspects of how the gold rush shaped the future of California.
Colonization of Western North America by Europeans and Americans significantly affected native Indians by altering their natural
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Too much water flow would obstruct access to the gold and too less water would make it impossible to separate/ wash off the impurities mixed with the gold. These unforeseeable situations in the riverine environment impeded the search for gold and search for outside capital investment to support mining in California (Isenberg 27). Although California in the 1850s produced 1/3rd gold worldwide, the region was also chronically short of it. This was one of the biggest ironies of the gold rush. By 1854 most the economy in California was credit based and by 1855 many banks closed down. The investment climate in California worsened. Californian placer mining was considered a “risky venture” by British investors. To increase their prospects, miners in the early/mid-1850s began building reservoirs/canals to control unpredictable river flow. This regularized the river waters and provided easy access to gold deposits. This attracted capital investment in California.
Although the gold rush only lasted for a few years, the long-term gold mining was driven by technology-based enterprise sustained by systematic control of California’s rivers. By the 20th century irrigation and hydropower dominated agriculture and industry. This Hydraulic West of the 20th century had its origins in the industrial landscape of 19th century California gold country. (Isenberg 30). California’s legal environment also tended towards hydraulic
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They invested over 4 million pounds into California’s placer mines (Isenberg 35). Gold mining was considered to be one of the most important industry in California. Along with gold, hydraulic mining also gave rise to other industrial production like iron foundries in California. In the 19th century, Sacramento was one of the largest industrial centers of California. Factories here were most evidently the hub and source of most urban pollution. Solid wastes and exhaust from the iron making process were extremely hazardous as it made its way into the environment. The byproducts of factories not only affected the health of the environment but also adversely affected the health of settlers in the region. As the impacts of mining grew worse, hydraulic mining only grew more in attracting many more investments. Impacts of this kind of mining were numerous. Large amounts of timber, water canyons that flushed debris into public waterways, destroying fish and their habitats are just a few of the many impacts of hydraulic mining. Also, by 1860s the industry consumed over 1 million pounds of mercury annually, the production of which diffused toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. By the 1880s, hydraulic mining had transformed the riverine environment of Sierra and Sacramento Valley (Isenberg 50). In short, Hydraulic mining had environmental, social and health implications that

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