Thursday, April 27, 2006

Green Valley, Hours Ago

It so happened that just while Jim the Miner was sending me his missive about Green Valley, as he knew it fifty years ago, I myself was in Green Valley, this morning.

I used the Iron Point Trail, off the Euchre Bar Trail, and lopped myself silly making the descent to the great ditch of the Green Valley Blue Gravel Gold Mining Company. It was already sixty degrees at eight in the morning, and I was in a t-shirt as I strode down the Euchre Bar Trail, still without water bars, by the way, and showing the signs of heavy flow directly down the trail-bed, all the way to the "secret" fork right to Green Valley.

This secret fork is just a few dozen yards above the beginning of the "switchback section" of the EBT. As one descends the EBT, the trail follows a narrow swath of serpentine for a time, and at a certain point, below the serpentine section, the trail almost coincides with the crest of the ridge, and one can see west to Giant Gap through a screen of Kellogg's Black Oaks, just now breaking their buds with fresh new leaves.

What appears to be a game trail leads away west into the oak grove, and becomes better defined as it arcs briefly north before dropping south and west in switchbacks, to the crossing of a vibrant stream, at a small waterfall.

This stream flanks the EBT ridge to the west, and as this ridge of old was named "Trail Spur," perhaps the ravine should be called Trail Spur Ravine.

After the crossing, the Iron Point Trail levels and follows the line of an old mining ditch before dropping to a certain saddle separating East Knoll from the main canyon wall.

From the saddle the IPT drops west into the east end of Green Valley, in multiple trail alignments, of which the principal trail is in the axis of a shallow ravine heading at the saddle. But it remains somewhat badly overgrown in a few places.

Once on the ditch of the GVBGGM, I made good time and was soon on those lovely marble cliffs plunging to the river, at the very eastern end of Green Valley.

Unfortunately, one of the houses out on Lovers Leap Road, on Moody Ridge, looks directly down on this spot, and is painted garishly, and is a mark of shame on Placer County. Although I was in a magnificent area of marble cliffs with masses of yellow Monkeyflowers sprouting from the crevices, and a green lawn of grass covering the old bench cut, and the North Fork raging and swirling below, made large by the warm weather of the day before--although I was in Paradise, I could not abide that gruesome house, and fled up the canyon and around the corner, into the Euchre-Green Valley Gorge.

I wanted to see what Sugarloaf Ravine would look like at river level. This is the stream which makes such a fine high waterfall, across the canyon from Iron Point. My mental image of this ravine is that it enters the Gorge about halfway through. And then, every time I am there, I realize, "Silly me! It is much closer to Green Valley than to Euchre Bar!"

Once again I rediscovered this fact.

I left the ditch and dropped through lush poison oak and scattered dwarfish Canyon Live Oak and Bay Laurel and minor talus, to the brink of the inner gorge itself, directly across from Sugarloaf.

A fine waterfall of maybe sixty feet dashes down into the roaring river. I picked my way up and downstream, taking photographs, fearful of the steep and mossy rocks, still in morning shade, still wet with dew.

I found potholes sixty or eighty feet above river level, incised during the Tioga glaciation, when the gorge was choked with glacial outwash, filled up to some level above these potholes. Similar potholes can be seen in Giant Gap.

Returning to the ditch, I lopped along up the canyon, and passed some rather bold cliffs on the left. I studied them; from their tops, a couple hundred feet up, one would certainly see farther up Sugarloaf Ravine to the big waterfalls above. Should I climb up now?

No. I was sweating and over-exercised, what with all the lopping. I continued along the ditch, crossing Trail Spur Ravine, again, near large waterfalls and cascades, and soon came to the end.

It's not really the end; the GVBGGM canal crossed the North Fork on a flume, and one can find and follow the same ditch on the far side.

If one can cross.

Retreating to Trail Spur creek, I rested and ate half a sandwich. A waterfall above beckoned and I fought my way up to the thing, quite pretty, a broad sort of double falls maybe fifty feet high. The local country rock is part of the Mesozoic "screen" between the Melones serpentine of Green Valley and the Shoo Fly Complex metaseds of Euchre Bar itself and points east. Here, by the falls, the rock was thoroughly folded into little synclines and anticlines of rhythmically-bedded limy sediments. The more calcareous portions would wear away faster, and left a delicate, finely-ribbed appearance to the folds.

From the falls area I noted a game trail leading away and upwards, and having from the beginning planned to reascend the East Knoll by some cross-country route or another, I decided there was no time like the present, and began the climb.

The game trail seemed suspiciously broad and well-graded, and I was reminded that vestiges of an old human trail had been seen up by the Saddle, near East Knoll; it was not impossible that this trail connected to that.

I climbed slowly west and down the canyon, and soon enough found myself atop the view-cliffs I had passed earlier, and paused to photograph the various waterfalls in Sugarloaf Ravine.

Above me, a narrow band of serpentine supported scattered Digger Pines and too much buckbrush, and I began to have some trouble. The sun was bright and the day was warm, surely eighty degrees in the sun. I had laid off the lopping but, having spent too much time at my desk for these past seven weeks, I was maybe a little out of shape; for I rested often.

At a certain point, panting, sweating, trying to break free of the buckbrush, I stepped onto a little cliffy outcrop, and immediately stumbled, my right foot tangled in brush.

No problem, set the left foot down, transfer weight, ... oh oh! My muscles were too weak, and my stumble became a slow-motion fall forward, over the little cliff. At that moment I withdrew my right foot from the brush and thought to make a little jump, down four feet, and be glad it's over, but, no.

My right foot stabbed down to the rock, seeking only a platform (no purchase, just push off), and got stuck in a deep crack!

All this happened in less than a second.

I had a choice: swan dive or somersault. Somersault looked a lot better. But there was a chance, a slim chance, I could prevent either, and so, while falling, I collapsed my knees and reached below my feet with my hands, grabbing the rocks and just by an ace keeping myself from going over.

At that instant, a severe cramp tore into my right calf and I screamed.

Fortunately I held on, and in another second or two had extricated myself from the rock trap. My calf felt like it was on fire and I could not walk except in agony. I collapsed into a puddle of shade and the agony continued.

After a few minutes I stood up, and for a moment, thought, "This is serious; I am far from the car, and this leg is almost unusable; maybe I should drop back down to the ditch, and take the trail back?"

But a little slow climbing and patience saved the day. I surely did not want to give up the five hundred feet of elevation I had just gained.

Just above the trouble section, I entered a marvelous Black Oak-Ponderosa Pine woodland, on the south- and east-facing slopes high on East Knoll, and soon came upon scattered garbage of a hunters' camp. They had left camouflage tarps, a plastic water barrel of perhaps thirty gallons capacity, and various odds and ends. It looked as though they may have stayed there one night in November. I gathered up what I could, and continued, angling through the forest on a nearly level line, and soon I was back in the Saddle, which meant, more climbing, much more climbing.

But, I took it slow, and slogged on up to the car, reaching it at 1:00 p.m.

It had been a brief hike of five hours, looping around East Knoll and getting some very good looks at the waterfalls of Sugarloaf Ravine.

Green Valley, Fifty Years Ago

Today I rec'd this interesting missive:

I was searching the web in hopes of finding some of the old books that detailed the tertiary channels around the Gold Run and Green Valley area and came across your fantastic essay regarding the placer mining history of the area.

I had five placer claims along the North Fork of the American between Green Valley and Euchre bar during the second half of the nineteen fifties. I lost all heart for mining after my wife "wisely" divorced me over my addiction to the life away from all people in the canyon. :-)

Those days were hard times and the only way in and out was by walking and packing everything on ones back.

I became fascinated by what little history I could become aware of and would spend hours visiting and talking with George Veach the man who built the cabin on the south side of the river just short of Giant Gap. I also spent hours talking with the fellow named Stewart who lived in the Gold Run Diggings. He told me many stories about his father the mining engineer and the Chinese who worked in the tunnels under his property.

I and my partners would spend hours walking through the tunnels and even camped over night a few times in them on sand bars along side the flowing water.

I don't know about now, but in the nineteen fifties Chinese people would come every year in a group and hike down to Hayden Hill and hang paper tributes and set off fire crackers in honor of those who died during the land slide. Old George claimed there was thousands of dollars in gold in the part of the sluice that no one ever found. Once crawling on hands and knees under the manzanita brush, I came across the old Hayden Hill blacksmith shop. Nothing of wood remained but there were hundreds of placer mining hand tools and monitor parts. They all disappeared with the coming of helicopters.

Besides working by hand, we had some of the early suction dredges and we worked under water a lot. Once we found under many feet of gravel, a French silver coin dated 1852.

Jim O

So, there it is again, the Chinese of Hayden Hill. But this begins to ring a little truer.

I hope to talk with Jim soon.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Mist Walking

Yesterday the clouds hung thick over and within the great canyon, and a slow brightening evoked the concept of a sun. It was time to take a walk, and from near the head of the Green Valley Trail, I dropped away east into the hidden valley of the Nary Red Channel.

This Nary Red Channel is a tributary of the Eocene-age Dutch Flat Channel, itself a tributary of the Eocene South Yuba Channel; but the Nary Red is much in the news right now, as last Friday a sinkhole opened up over in Alta, and swallowed a young man alive.

This sinkhole is without any doubt related to some old tunnel, perhaps fifty feet below the house, its outlet in Little Bear River long collapsed and hidden from view. There are dozens of such tunnels in the greater Dutch Flat area.

The experts clustered around the sinkhole should ask me what's what. The place to look for the outlet of the collapsed tunnel is away down the Little Bear, where bedrock starts to crop out. That's where the miners of days gone by would have started their drift or drain tunnel (it might have been either one which triggered the sinkhole). For, the basic scheme was, drive in horizontally through the bedrock, under the channel, then make an "upraise" and tap the gravels from below, with the help of gravity.

It is also possible that a vertical shaft, opening to a drift or drain tunnel at depth, was bulldozered over a few decades ago, when whoever owned it, decided to put up the property for sale. The shaft may have looked like a broad shallow hole in the ground, with some garbage, old washing machines etc., embedded in it. For it was a commonplace to dump garbage into mine shafts, in this area. The owner or bulldozer operator might have thought, "I'll just fill in this hole, bury the garbage."

Fast forward a few years, the lot has sold, a house is built. Now, wait; wait for a very very rainy rainy season. The old tunnel below always has water in it, and someone near the collapsed entrance, a couple hundred yards down the Little Bear, might notice a year-around spring issuing from a hollow in the bank. But when the water table becomes over-charged, a lot of water is in the tunnel. It fills the tunnel, and pressure builds at the collapsed outlet; water begins to break through, and finnaly succeeds. The tunnel drains, and as it does, a portion of its roof collapses. Over a period of weeks, more and more of the roof (soft Eocene river seds) falls into the tunnel and is washed away.

The exact courses of the sources of the Nary Red are not known or knowable, as our huge modern canyons have been incised deeply into the landscape, erasing most of the various older river channels in the process. For instance, the North Fork canyon cuts off the Nary Red where I was walking, yesterday, and one has the channel exposed more or less in a pure cross section.

One can follow right along the base of the Nary Red, which was incised into the serpentine of the Melones Fault Zone. There does not seem to have been a deep accumulation of Eocene channel gravels, here, for weakly welded rhyolite tuff beds occupy some of the deepest parts of the channel, not far above bedrock. Like, maybe less than fifty feet. But the Nary red is notable for the thickness of its "intervolcanic" channel sediments, intermixed rhyolite ash and hard cobbles of chert and quartz robbed from some Eocene channel upstream and to the east. These intervolcanic gravels can be seen in the railroad cuts a quarter-mile east of the Casa Loma Road crossing.

When one is directly across the North Fork canyon, one can look back at the Nary Red and see the serpentine bedrock sloping from east and west into the axis of the channel.

I was at that point yesterday, where Indians once flaked their arrowheads, as one sees in the fragments of chert exposed wherever pocket gophers have churned up the meadowy turf. The place is a paradise of giant pines and ancient oaks. All through the woods one sees collapsed shafts, mining ditches, collapsed tunnels, and so on. One of the open shafts is full to the surface with ground water, and bears use it as a swimming hole.

Near the deepest part of the channel are huge chunks of the rhyolite tuff, ten feet through, which are identical to the quite anomalous tuff boulders down in Green Valley, just east of Moonshine. I suppose that one of the two Tahoe glaciations sent enough ice down Canyon Creek that a tongue split away and scoured tuff beds out the Nary Red Channel. Certainly the more recent Tioga glaciation did not reach this far down Canyon Creek, and may not have even entered its headwaters. Thus the tuff boulders in Green Valley have been there for perhaps 65,000 years, or maybe 120,000 years.

There are also some Tahoe-age (?) glacial outwash deposits in Canyon Creek, scattered all the way down to the Oxbow, near the Old Wagon Road. And high on Moody Ridge, 400 feet above Canyon Creek, back in 1976, I found one granite glacial erratic, a boulder some ten feet long and four feet thick.

I think these are all local vestiges of the Tahoe, either Tahoe I or Tahoe II. One cannot speak with much assurance of these vestiges. It would be helpful to identify moraines, if any such still exist. None are obvious, I have looked.

I dropped over the edge into a lovely mixture of serpentine cliffs and steep, grassy, flowery glades. Rather than drying and warming and clearinging, a light rain began to fall. I passed one of the tunnels, out of view above, but I could see the steep bench-cuts which must have once supported some kind of sluice boxes or undercurrents. Their steepness is puzzling and reminds me of the Giant Trails over by Iowa Hill, leading away from Town Ravine. These too I think supported sluice boxes of some sort. It could be that they were just splitting the tailings stream, and diverting some portion of it down to the North Fork, where it would be run through ordinary sluice boxes.

A descending traverse led me to MoonShine ravine and a pretty waterfall, forty feet high. I recalled that somewhere below me was an old tunnel, and continued to descend. Eventually I spotted the "secret" trail down from the railroad tracks; marijuana growers had occupied the tunnel, back in the 1980s, and I have yet to finish carrying their garbage up and out.

The tunnel proved elusive--I had not been there in ten years--but I found it at last, and after a pause to look around, I crossed a small tributary of Moonshine and began a slow slog up the grassy cliffs.

It was tempting to drop right on down into Green Valley--I was a thousand feet below the canyon rim, almost--but the rain had slowly intensified, and I was getting wet. So I wound my slow way up the flowered cliffs, and soon enough, was home and changing out of wet clothes.

Such were a couple pleasant hours walking in the mist.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tripping Up the HOUT

Tuesday morning dawned clear and cold, with icicles here at 4000', and it seemed a mite early to be rushing off to meet Catherine O., lo and behold before my second cup of coffee; but I so rushed, and soon enough we reached the Canyon Creek Trail, in Potato Ravine, near Gold Run.

Word had reached us that a new bridge was built at the old crossing, and we were eager to see, eager to cross into that wonderland of gorges within gorges, waterfalls every which way, 2000-foot cliffs, and so on. Did I mention flowers? Many, very many; but for all that, a retarded, light-starved biota, dressed like February tho it's getting late in April.

Why, we saw a poor starved bat winging around at noon, hoping against hope for an insect, after six long weeks of storm.

Give us a week or three of hot weather, and there will be an explosion of flowers like this world has rarely seen.

Right here in River City. I mean, the American River Canyon.

We saw Houndstongue, Mosquito Bills, Blue Dicks by the thousand, by a thousand thousands, Tufted Poppies, some few Brewer's Monkeyflower, Blue Bush Lupine, Brewer's Rock Cress, much in the way of yellow Biscuit Root, False Rue Anemone, Canyon Nemophila, Bride's Bower, Brown Bells, and more.

Canyon Creek was raging high and fast, thundering along in a menace of surging white water, and the bridge had already, only days old, been glancingly kissed by the high waters of two days past. Kissed, and left in peace. It was wet with spray and we crossed without incident. A fine bridge, tho endowed with a hazardous central crack, a problem with the blocking, as I see it.

The creek thundered along under blue skies and rapidly warming temperatures, so soon, layers were shed, and I went bare-chested down the sunny trail, admiring the many waterfalls.

The first big waterfall, a few hundred yards below the bridge site, a fifty-footer, maybe, will show four separate channels when the creek is high enough; it was barely that high today, quite a rare sight.

All the creek was thundering, yes, but the waterfalls were thunder upon thunder, with big bombs thrown in for good measure, and thrown constantly, so that there was a stuttering thudding which shook the very earth, as massive concussions of water slammed into solid metavolcanic rock of the late-Paleozoic Calaveras Complex. These deeply-seated thuds punctuated the constant thunder upon thunder. Then too the cliffs beside the trail will throw the sound back upon you, so there seem to be waterfalls on all sides.

We picked our way down the Rockslide, still hazardous, especially to anyone below, say, at the Big Waterfall, which is where we went next, abjuring the trail for the open moss-bound clifflets and terraces, all threaded with game trails. The rapid descent of a few hundred feet brought us near the base of the falls, which were of course spectacular in might and majesty, with so much water, but still tombed in shadow. In minutes, or half an hour, rainbows would glow in the billowing spray.

But we aimed for the HOUT, and the deeper and the farther east, the better. So we left the spray-drenched area near the falls and dropped to the Terraces and Lower Terraces Trail to return to the main trail, and the secret entrance to the HOUT.

The High Old Upriver Trail is a thread of a thing. It was hacked into the canyon wall about 1900, along the line of survey for a proposed Giant Gap Canal, diverting the waters of the North Fork to Crystal Springs Reservoir, and San Francisco. All this is explained in a treatise published at that time, found today in the State Library at Sacramento; a treatise, then, by the projectors of this Giant Gap Canal, and addressed to the Supervisors of the City of San Francisco.

The treatise stated that the projectors had already "broken grade" from Green Valley on the east, to Auburn on the west. The Canal was surveyed in with a slope of ten feet per mile, very flat. A fall of one inch in five hundred and twenty inches is scant indeed.

On Lower Terraces Trail I found myself alone. Catherine had discovered some flowers, and had whipped out her camera, and the Whole World came to a halt while she was at such work. So I stood and waited.

It occurred to me that right there, right exactly where I stood, was the projection of the line of the HOUT, towards the Terraces and Canyon Creek. I had never seen evidence of any continuation, west of Canyon Creek. Gazing up the HOUT, and then down, I saw that I stood somewhat higher than I had ever stood before, in years past, when I would strain to see some plausible figment of a trail, across Canyon Creek.

I scanned the correspondingly higher, then, region of the steep canyon wall across the thundering torrent, hidden in a waterfall-infested chasm right below the Terraces.

To my amazement, I saw something. A level line, great for squirrels and mice and lizards, but arrow-straight, level as a lake. It could not be! But, it was.

Eventually, Catherine appeared. We were almost immediately on the HOUT proper, making good time eastward. At a certain projecting point of rock we halted for a snack and I wandered a few yards west, gaining a view across Canyon Creek to the steep walls of Diving Board Ridge. A confusion of cliffs and moss and Canyon Live Oaks littered the steeps. And there! A level line--and a second, at the same level--and now a third--totaling a hundred yards or two. I hurried back for my too-powerful binoculars, sat myself down and rested elbows on knees, and slowly gained control and brought the area into good focus.

A dry-laid stone wall supported a portion of the central level-line.

It was the HOUT, and west of Canyon Creek!

I hurried back to Catherine and relayed the exciting news, and had her look and verify that, yes, it was a dry-laid stone wall.

So that was interesting.

Continuing east, we saw many threads of waterfalls in the shallow ravines scarring the cliffs across the North Fork, making a spectacular show; in some places the little falls were a hundred feet high. I have seen these falls set up strongly during or right after big rain storms, but on a dry and warm and sunny day like today, they seemed exotic, and were.

The North Fork was a monstrous torrent, a heaving, lacy torrent of emerald and snow, full bank-to-bank, almost too bright to look at under the brash and blazing sun, and the "banks" being sculptured bedrock.

In quite a few places, trees had fallen across the trail during the severe storms this winter. We cleared those we could. But the others? Perhaps the already knotty problem of hiking the HOUT should become thorny as well, by permitting all manner of obstacles to intervene, and force one through hoops and into hops.

We finally made the climb around the base of Big West Spur, the Pinnacles rising high above us, across the gorge, and the Pinnacles Waterfall, call her Athena, breaking into existence with a roar of her own, fully formed, from the base of a vast talus field.

The Big West Spur flares into huge almost blade-like sub-spurs which plunge many hundreds of feet into the heart of Giant Gap. So the trail winds in and out around these sharp buttresses. In the ravines, the view becomes intimate, a dizzy plunge of three hundred feet or more into some maelstrom of white water, and then across the way, some one of the many little waterfalls which inhabit the gorge.

But on the blades, the buttresses, the view widens and one suddenly sees for miles.

The last blade is climbed and crossed in a tight and tiny arc and then the trail takes a plunge into an elfin forest of dwarf Canyon Live Oak, clinging to the cliffs in a welter of moss and ferns. Soon a point is reached where a few steps brings one to the edge of a nearly sheer three-hundred-foot drop to the river, and an outstanding view of Lovers Leap, rising maybe 2400 feet from the river, and Lovers Leap Ravine, my name for the ravine heading up on the Moody Ridge uplands, in a broad crease between the island of pre-volcanic, Eocene-age bedrock land surface exposed atop Lovers Leap Spur, and the Miocene andesitic lahars to the west, of the Mehrten Formation. There are many slow springs around the head of this ravine, just west of Lovers Leap itself.

But in a year like this year, on a day like today, when snow still mantles the uplands beside the canyon, and the springs are flowing like seldom before, Lovers Leap Ravine made a spectacular series of waterfalls on its descent to the North Fork, one of the falls being about three hundred feet vertical, I'd say. Quite a display. This is indeed our Yosemite.

We lingered long at this overlook, but deepening shadows and a sudden chill in the strengthening breeze awoke us to the need to start back to the Unreal World, which others call the Real World.

So off we went, and wound our tortuous way west on the good old HOUT, and I talked about the song, A Felicidade, from the movie, Black Orpheus, and Catherine herself proposed to make a movie about food. At last we were at the car and soon enough, on I-80.

A great great rarely fine day in the great canyon.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Vulture Houses

Inspired by Mike Case and Jay Shuttleworth, I sent the following to the Editor of the Auburn Journal.

Editor of the Journal:

It is long past time to stop building houses overlooking the American River Canyon. Not only are such houses at desperate risk from wildfires (it is as bad as building in floodplains), but they mar the view for all the rest of us.

We are very lucky here in Placer County, to have some of the most beautiful terrain on earth. Lake Tahoe; the Sierra Crest, with Mt. Lincoln, Tinkers Knob, and Granite Chief; and, of course, our many canyons.

The North Fork of the American River canyon, in particular, is Placer county's own Yosemite, for miles over three thousand feet deep, rife with waterfalls and trackless gorges. This was once called the Great American Canyon, or The American River Canyon. It was famous nationwide, being visible from the Central Pacific Railroad in many places; why, the trains used to stop, at American View, above Alta, so the passengers could enjoy the view of Giant Gap, that incredible chasm portrayed by Thomas Moran in an etching.

That incredible view stirred our forefathers' souls, and for a time, it was called Jehovah's Gap. But the old Gold Rush name stuck.

That incredible gorge, now lined with houses. Some of the worst are out on Lovers Leap Road, and a new one is a-building at Bogus Point.

They are a blight on our landscape and a curse on our children.

If we had done nothing, thirty or forty years back, we would now have houses and "no trespassing" signs lining every inch of California's coast. We need to take care of our scenery, our wild places and open spaces, and our very remarkable American River Canyon.


Russell Towle

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Booth Trail

This morning son Greg and I met Ron G. at Colfax and drove across the North Fork at Mineral bar, to Iowa Hill.

From the 1861 "Directory of Placer County" I find that Booth Garrett, miner, and
Booth R. J. miner, were Iowa Hill residents.

A few dozen yards east of the store is an old hydraulic mining reservoir, with an open area just south of the road and above the reservoir, where we parked. The Stevens Trail leads away west from the store; but we were in search of the Booth Trail, which Ron had heard mention of; supposedly one merely dropped down a certain driveway north, and soon peeled away east into the woods.

We followed these vague directions, and found a welter of game trails leading every which way. We maintained a course north towards the river, hoping we would strike something unequivocal.

But no.

After a time, scouting west, I struck an especially strong bit of trail, and hollered to Ron and Greg. The thing dropped us gently down into the canyon before disappearing amid more game trails. In such cases one makes a choice, and it well may be wrong. One missed switchback is enough. Dropping lower, we struck an amazingly broad trail, four feet wide, often chopped out of rocky, steep, and difficult terrain.

This was a Giant Trail.

But this too came to an abrupt end.

So we scattered widely across the canyon wall, out of hearing of one another, searching for The Booth, but without result. Always we let ourselves drop towards the river.

It was all Canyon Live Oak, Douglas Fir, and Poison Oak, And ticks. Hungry ticks.

And Houndstongues, with their pretty forget-me-not flowers.

Suddenly, the Giant Trail reappeared, and we followed it to the river itself, crossing a small ravine along the way. Soon we reached some grassy glacial outwash terraces, sixty feet above the river, and a big pile of garbage, and a well-traveled trail leading away up the canyon wall above.

This was the True Booth Trail. We had been always too far west, and had inadvertently discovered other old trails.

We dropped to the river and ate lunch under blue skies, with temperatures warm enough to make us choose shade over sun. The North Fork was running quite high and fast, and its water was somewhat cloudy, not muddy by any means, but not clear.

Quite a number of Black Locust trees grew on the bouldery gravel bar there; so I dubbed the place Locust Bar, tho it may be known as Booth Bar.

The river switches back and forth quite sharply in this reach of the canyon, never straightened by glaciers, and embraced by each sharp bend are glacial outwash terraces; many were mined into oblivion, and all one sees are boulder fields and boulder piles and time-softened scars from mining.

The outsides of each bend are scoured free of glacio-fluvial sediments and show large expanses of bedrock.

At Locust Bar, on the north side of the river, a relict bedrock channel is seen, with a funny island of bedrock rising high between it and the main North Fork. It looks to have been mined very thoroughly, a process of years I imagine.

We explored downstream, and then upstream, finding a nice little trail contouring along fifty feet above river level. We lopped brush and poison oak and kept on until we reached that very chasm-ravine Ron and Catherine and Gay and I had visited last spring, when following a trail downstream from Fords Bar.

Hence it is actually possible to follow the river on a trail from Locust Bar up to Pickering Bar, and from there, if one fords the river, one can continue to Canyon Creek. So there is quite a nice long stretch of river paralleled by trails.

Returning, we split up, Ron taking the True Booth, Greg and I returning to the Giant Trail, where I expected to connect up all the dots and find one grand continuous trail.

But no. The Lower Giant Trail led us, eventually, to a ravine west, which heads up near the store, so I will dub it Town Ravine. This ravine makes one long series of waterfalls all the way down to the North Fork. The polished bedrock is often delicately fluted and mossed, and enormous colonies of Giant Chain Ferns adorned the creek and the cliffs. These ferns are like the White Alder and California Ginseng: they will only gorw where there is year-around water at the surface.

Town Ravine had clearly been used as a "tailings claim," and was fitted with sluice boxes, just as were Canyon Creek and Indiana Ravine, near Gold Run.

So, Greg and I scouted higher off trail, and eventually hit the Upper Giant, and followed this up and to the west again, to the very same Town Ravine.

More pretty waterfalls, more ferns and moss.

Here a faint game trail switched back and climbed higher. As we neared the canyon rim, the slopes moderated, soils sweetened, and Ponderosa Pines appeared. There were at least two lumber slides grooving the forest floor, by which lumber was slid down to the sluice boxes in Town Ravine.

Manzanita appeared and yet we dared to climb right through an extensive patch, which turned out nicely, as we found another trail, broad and amazingly well-defined, although overhung with manzanita a century old. This led us directly to the house at the bottom of the aforementioned driveway, with a sign naming the place "Perry's Point of Pines."

A house and driveway block three historic trails at once; the Stevens Trail, the Booth Trail, and the Giant Trails Complex of trails.

Reminds me of Gold Run, where a recent absentee owner blocks two old trails: the Fords Bar, and the Paleobotanist.

Fortunately, Jay Shuttleworth took the Iowa Hill problem in hand several years ago, and managed, thank goodness, to negotiate an easement from the store owners, which allows public access to the Stevens Trail. But the Booth, the Blue Wing, the Giant Trails Complex, these all are more or less still at risk from further development.

A stone monument with bronze tablet, placed by E Clampus Vitus (Lord Sholto Douglas chapter), near the store, inaccurately reviews the history of the Stevens Trail.

It implies that the Stevens Trail preceded the first wagon road to Iowa Hill; this is false, for the first wagon road, crossing at Mineral Bar, was built in 1855, years before the Stevens Trail was built, and replaced, as I understand it, a still-earlier mule trail, also crossing at Mineral Bar, said trail still visible on the slopes above the road, as seen from the Colfax side of the canyon, looking across to the Iowa Hill side. On this older trail, which connected Illinoistown to Iowa Hill, there once were "saddle trains," wherein one paid a fee to ride a mule from here to there. This was a commonplace in the old days, before the advance of civilization brought actual wagon roads and stagecoaches.

In American English usage of those times, "road" could freely mean, "trail," or "wagon road," or even "railroad."

From the Placer Herald of June 10, 1855, I have:

"From Illinoistown the road to the Hill crosses the river at Mineral Bar, on the North Fork of the American River. At the present time, Mr. Rice has a number of hands engaged in cutting a wagon road to connect the two towns, which will be completed in about two months, and so much improved as to admit of pack mules traveling it in the next fortnight. The mountain on the east side of the river is very abrupt, but it is thought that by running the road along its side a very good grade can be had."

The passage does not mention the pre-existing mule trail, which also crossed the North Fork at Mineral Bar.; and "running a road along its side," means, "without switchbacks."

Yet switchbacks can be seen on the line of the old mule trail on the east side of the NF.

The passage projects completion of the road to August 10, 1855, and its use by mule trains to June 24, 1855.

And finally, in pictures taken from the wagon road, Iowa Hill side of the NF, ca. 1866, by Eadward Muybridge, showing the covered bridge at Mineral Bar (Rice's Bridge, I believe), one can see, on the Colfax side of the NF, the wagon road, and above it (following an un-wagon-like grade) a strange sub-parallel bench cut, which I take to be the "pre-existing mule trail," the mule trail which predated the August 1855 wagon road, and fell entirely out of use after the wagon road's construction.

The present road to Iowa Hill from Colfax follows, very closely, the original wagon road's alignment. One can sometimes see abandoned sections closely paralleling the current road. It is possible that some of these improvements upon the original alignment were made a century ago or more.

I do not recall the source for my assertion that there actually was a pre-existing mule trail, from Illinoistown to Iowa Hill, crossing at Mineral Bar. I have read many diaries and old newspapers and whatnot, bearing upon Iowa Hill. It boomed in 1854, but busted in 1859-60, when we find many Iowa Hill residents moving to Dutch Flat, people like Ellsworth Burr Boust and his wife Martha Elizabeth [Ferguson] Boust, or Aaron Ferguson, or Dr. Daniel Strong, or E.B. Lyon.

Yes, Dutch Flat and Iowa Hill were kindred towns, both hydraulic mining towns, full of saloons and hurdy-gurdy girls and hotels and dancehalls and opera houses, bowling alleys and everything; both had large Chinese quarters; both were situated daringly high in elevation, where storms beat fiercely and snow falls deeply.

It was another great day in the great canyon. Must have been nearly, if not over, seventy degrees, down by the river. Felt strangely hot!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Foxholm, and Mike Case's Letter

Yesterday, scouting for sound, dead maple trunks to cut for firewood (the tight grain of the Bigleaf Maple keeps the wood amazingly dry, even after constant storms), on a steep hillside in the rain (it has rained or snowed continuously since March 1st, and my family has consumed a ton or five of firewood more than usual), I was staggering along beneath an ancient Kellogg's Black Oak, five feet in diameter but only twenty feet tall, broken down in storms decades ago, and almost, almost, but not quite, dead. I have often admired this recondite monster, with its giant burls. I noticed, yesterday, that a bear had been by recently, and clawed loose bark away from one of the burls. Climbing around and above the tree, I was passing it on a faint game trail when a plump grey fox suddenly jumped down from about ten feet above ground level and raced away. I suppose it has its den inside the monstrous oak, although I could not see the entrance. For an instant, while the fox was in mid-air, it was less than six feet from me. Foxholm of the Ancient Oak.

Those who have been on this email list for a few years will recall Mike Case's interesting accounts of trips down the North Fork with his son, Jason, from Euchre Bar to Mineral Bar.

What makes their trips exceptional is that they would spend a week or ten days or more making this distance, of maybe fifteen river miles. Hence they had time to really appreciate the great canyon and the river and the strange magic and mystery which seems to overtake one, there. Well do I recall Mike's stories of the ghostly Chinese music.

Also interesting is that Mike lives in Alaska and knows wilderness like few others. He flies into the back country and hunts and fishes and camps.

Yet he loves the North Fork American River like he was born and raised here.

Here is a letter Mike wrote to Mr. Ferenback of Friends of the River:

Dear Mr. Ferenback:

My name is Michael Case and I'm writing you from Alaska. I have a great concern about the deteriorating ascetic quality of the North Fork of the American River. I will try to keep it short. Above Green Valley there are a growing number of "mansions", or homes that rich people are building right on the canyon rim. Everyone who utilizes this portion of the river cannot escape the sight of these homes perched on the rim, overlooking everything wilderness minded people do on the river. I have been down this portion of the river several times and cringe when entering this section of river now. Using field glasses one can see the people up there sitting on their fancy decks with telescopes looking down upon us, watching our every move. These houses litter the landscape of the valley, and GREATLY detract from the "Wild and Scenic" quality of the river, and the wilderness experience.

My question is, why are these people being allowed to build on the canyon rim, within plain sight of everyone using the river, when this is a "Wild and Scenic" river? I thought the reason we had Wild and Scenic rivers was so people could get away from civilization and back to pristine nature. Are people going to continue to be allowed building and trashing the view from the river? I can just imagine the conditions 30 years from now if this dreaded building isn't stopped in its tracks now - there will be literally hundreds of homes lining the canyon rim, and the river will no longer have any "Wild or Scenic" value. If this sort of thing is going to be allowed, why not open the river back up to gold dredgers, motor cycles, atv's, etc. The Wild and Scenic quality of the river is being lost anyway. I find it very infuriating that this is being allowed.

Thank you for your time.


Mike Case

Thanks for that letter, Mike. I don't know what FOR can do, but they ought to do something about the vulture houses which try to impose themselves upon the great canyon, and upon all of us who love it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Photos of the North Fork; News


is a website with some nice photos of the North Fork, by Ron Gould of the North Fork American River Alliance. Take a look at the gallery!

I've been meaning to write up some North Fork news but it's so depressing I can't even think about it. Back in the 1990s I started to feel a real sense of urgency about Sawtooth Ridge (the divide between the main NF and the North Fork of the North Fork American River or NFNFAR).

Sawtooth Ridge was a fairly wild and secluded place, despite having been hammered by logging in many areas. But on the NF side of Sawtooth, it was pretty much untouched; and on the NFNFAR side, well, a bit wrecked, but still pretty, and fun to explore.

An old trail from Lost Camp to Sawtooth Ridge, via the NFNFAR, came to my attention. I used to call ti the Lost Camp Trail but it has its own name, the China Trail, or sometimes you'll hear it called the China Bar Trail. At any rate, Forest Service maps showed Lost Camp and the trailhead, near Blue Canyon, to be on private land, in an odd-numbered section. I assumed that it was "railroad" land now belonging to Sierra Pacific Industries, who had done some clear-cutting on Sawtooth Ridge.

So I wrote a series of somewhat misguided letters to Tahoe National Forest (TNF), and to my elected representatives, and the Trust for Public Land, and so on. In all these letters I asked for funds for TNF to purchase the section at Lost Camp. For there were TNF lands almost surrounding Lost Camp.

Despite my sense of urgency, nothing was accomplished at all. The years went by.

Finally I learned that Lost Camp belonged to Siller Brothers Lumber, out of Yuba City.

The letters changed accordingly. Also, a number of us wrote to CDF about the major 560-acre timber harvest planned there, and we did succeed in getting the trailbed itself protected, in theory.

Last summer all hell broke loose. "No Trespassing" signs sprouted on Sawtooth Ridge, and the ideas I had proposed for years, of TNF land acquisition at Sawtooth, and management of the three canyons and two divides as a primitive area, now seem hopeless. The cap was the discovery, a couple months ago, that 320 acres containing a stretch of the NFNFAR is now for sale. This piece is way out near Helester Point.

So many old trails wind around Sawtooth Ridge. Some abandoned, some destroyed by logging. Let me see. Is even one intact? The Government Springs Trail/ Oh yes, intact, but the trailhead has been gated for ten years now, for it turns out the "Government" springs are on private property.

So. Civilization arrives on Sawtooth Ridge.

At some point--maybe in the 1960s or 1970s--Tahoe National Forest made a crucial and far-reaching decision. Instead of considering that TNF was a unit, with a definite boundary and some private inholdings, TNF decided, apparently, that it really consisted of a set of parcels, many disjunct.

Suddenly, with this or that or practically any old trail, TNF would not lift a finger to prevent damage, on the private inholdings. What bureaucratic good sense it must have made, to decide that TNF is nothing but parcels; that it has no soul of its own, no unique history, no wild and scenic and recreational fabric which deserves any care; no, that was in the good old days. In Modern Times, TNF works diligently to protect Spotted Owl habitat.

And well they might! I have no problem with protecting Spotted Owls, They are wonderful and strange birds, with a hoot which often sounds like the bark of a dog gone far away crazy and alone. When I first heard it I thought the forest was worse than haunted. It was scary.

So yes, protect the owls by all means.

Incidentally, the latest scheme to protect these old-forest-loving birds, in TNF, is to purposely log an area up in the Middle Fork American where Spotted Owls are known to nest, and see if they are really scared away, or not.

If not, well, then it's gonna be time to cut some more old-growth timber on National Forest lands.

Well, the World is Going to Hell in a Handbasket, as they say. And as I wrote to Tom McGuire recently,

Hey Tom,

Why are we not looking at the NYC 500-foot waterfall today?

What is wrong with us? With the world? With our society? Our health? Our families?

But mainly, why are we not looking at the NYC waterfall when it is bigger than we ever even imagined?

To which he made some limp-wristed reply or another; Tom's from the Bay Area, you know; there's no accounting for these would-be explorers and their many vagaries; why, if Johnny Muir had lived around here, he would have visited that New York Canyon waterfall a million times, and not just in June, not just in April, but in the middle of severe snowstorms, again and again and again, just to make sure he fully appreciated all its varied moods.

After all, he like Yosemite Falls enough to live up on Sunnyside, the rock ledge 400 feet above the Valley floor, between Lower and Upper Yosemite Falls. Nowadays it's considered Class 4 rock-climbing or something. Muir lived there. It was a lot warmer than the valley floor.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Captain Weimar

Recently I shared with you Stephen Powers' 1873 article about the Nisenan Maidu, as it appeared in the Overland Monthly. In another message, I mentioned that Chief Weimar had "made his mark" on the 1851 treaty negotiated with the Maidu, in which they gave up all claims to their ancestral lands in exchange for one rather large reservation, extending from the Sacramento Valley on the west to Chicago Park on the east, and from Bear River on the south, to Deer Creek and the South Yuba on the north.

That is one of the treaties with the California Indians which, when sent to the U.S. Senate for ratification, was instead placed in a sealed secret archive, not to be opened for fifty years, in 1903; the Barbour Treaties.

So, who is this Chief Weimar? A Nisenan, for whom the town of Weimar was named. He appears in several Gold Rush diaries and books, almost always referred to as "Captain" Weimar, although the spelling of his name varies widely. Alonzo Delano wrote a nice Weimar story, in which he and Weimar and Simmons Peña Strong ventured into the local high country on a camping trip, in 1853.

In the excerpts below, he is named "Captain Wemah," and I can't refrain from remarking about the significance of that title.

It is really Spanish—he was "capitan" Wemah. And why is that?

The Spanish and Mexican influence in California was confined almost entirely to the coastal region. Indian who escaped from the Missions made their way into the Central Valley and Sierra foothills. When Captain Wemah was a child, there well may have been escapees from the Missions sheltering with his very tribe. Among these Indians of different tribes, Spanish would have become a lingua franca, just as Stephen Powers remarks that English had become their lingua franca, in the 1870s.

But that is the 1870s. Consider the 1830s and 1840s. Sutter builds his fort near the confluence of the American River and the Sacramento River. He hires many Indian laborers. Of all these Indians, there are those fresh from the hills, who know nothing of modern civilization, and there are those with some kind of background with the Spanish and Mexicans. These latter will speak Spanish, and perhaps some English. They will ride horses and dress as Europeans. They will often be the bosses who manage the wilder Indians, on the job.

Within the broader more tenuous parts of the sphere of influence of Sutter's Fort, was much of the territory of the Nisenan. This is illustrated by the experiences of some of the Donner Party, the Forlorn Hope group, who, when at last they staggered down into the foothils below Greenhorn Creek and north of Bear River, on the old trans-Sierran Indian trail we call the Donner Trail, encountered a village of Indians. Among them was one who was mounted and spoke some Spanish.

Spanish is also spoken by the Nisenan in the excerpts below.

So. although we cannot know for sure, a couple of possibilities occur to me, about Captain Weimar.

1. He was an actual employee of Sutter, who parlayed his position at the Fort into the chieftaincy of the Nisenan.

2. He was a foothills Nisenan not involved at all with Sutter, but was thrown together with hordes of Mexicans, other Indians who spoke some Spanish, and the motley crew of Americans and Europeans in California in 1848, when Indians thronged the brand new diggings. He was already a Nisenan "chief" and, because all Indians of any degree of civilization (and thus, a degree of Spanish) were accorded the honorific, "capitan," Weimar assumed it as his right.

Well, at any rate. From "Sketches of travels in South America, Mexico and California," by S.M. Schaeffer, I will extract passages which bear upon the Nisenan and Captain Wemah. Schaeffer was mining for gold near Grass Valley at the time.

January 1, 1851. There were several encampments around here of native Indians, (the Digger tribe;) and one day, when working alone, some distance from my cabin, I was honored with a visit from several squaws, nearly every one of whom had a ''papoose'' strapped to her back. They were out hunting and digging wild onions and tender roots, which grew there; and they laughed heartily at my incessant digging and washing dirt, and signified that Indian no work, but ''American much work, ugh,'' Their faces were besmeared with tar, which I was informed indicated the decease of a friend or relative.

Whilst I enjoyed a laugh at their expense, they were equally merry at the appearance I presented, so we were all pleased. Finally they went off, and I could hear them laughing at the idea of a man working and earning his support ''by the sweat of his brow.''

Thursday, January 30th. Five or six young men and myself agreed to take a short walk through the woods, ostensibly for ''prospecting,'' but in reality to visit ''Capt.'' Wemah's Indian camp. Our ''prospecting amounted to the figure 0,'' but our visit to the Indians was interesting and highly gratifying. Their encampment was located in a lovely valley, through which ran a never-failing stream. Their council house was in the centre of the camp; around it were the wigwams, constructed of bark, each having a hole in the centre of the roof, through which issued the smoke from the fire beneath.

The entrance to their palatial mansions was an aperture just large enough to admit one person at a time in a stooping posture. On a large rock I noticed several squaws--quite pretty and of fine figure, nearly nude, pounding acorns, out of which they make soup and bread.

The ladies were courteous and affable, and were pleased with our visit, but apparently surprised at receiving so much attention from us. When the acorns are fully ripe, the squaws saunter forth, collect immense quantities, place them in their storehouse, and when needed, pound them to a coarse powder, which they prepare in a proper manner for the lazy chiefs.

The chiefs and braves never work, but spend their time in hunting and manufacturing ornaments. Whenever the squaws go out after roots and vegetables they are always accompanied by a brave, as a ''guard of honor.'' I often wished that I could
converse with them. The majority of the Indiaus about Grass Valley were friendly to the ''whites;'' others were disposed for war--war to extermination.

Wednesday, June 18th. Today was held our first Whig convention; delegates from Nevada and Rough and Ready joined us. My friend, Judge S_______, of whom I have heretofore spoken, was unanimously elected presiding officer; and the entire proceedings reminded me very much of the political conventions I had attended as ''lobby member'' in the eastern states. There was considerable discussion in relation to the office of State senator. Nevada wanted the candidate selected from her district. Rough and Ready very modestly withdrew from the discussion, and finally it was compromised by our district getting the senatorial nominee, and Nevada taking the lion's share of the candidates for the assembly.

During the morning Captain Wemah, head chief of the Indian tribe in our valley, came into the room, and as he took a seat alongside of me, I watched his countenance, feeling curious to know how the proceedings would interest him. The old chief understood about as much of the English language as a Japanese. He sat silent awhile, gazed all around the room, rose up, straightened himself, turned around, exclaimed ''ugh,'' and off he marched.

[July-August 1851]

Look there! ''Heigho, what is going on among the Indians?'' Why, there is to be a grand ''Pow Wow'' at Wemah's camp to-night; ''Let us go down.'' ''Agreed.''

I was anxious to be present at the beginning of the exercises, but waiting for some friends, whose business detained them later than they had expected, we arrived at the camp just in time to be too late for the grand wardance, in which participated the entire assemblage of chiefs, braves and warriors, many of whom were representatives from distant tribes who had come to attend the all-important ''big talk'' in relation to the ''pale faces.''

The squaws were not allowed to indulge in any of the sports, neither were they permitted to come within speaking distance of the council house.

Some of the warriors were profusely decorated with fancy colored feathers, beads, shells and trinkets, and liberally daubed with paint. After resting a short time, the gaily-decked Indians made for the council chamber, (a description of which, and the camp, I gave in a former chapter,) which was dimly lighted by a fire in the centre, around which the various delegations squatted in a circle.

''Captain'' Wemah, who held the important position of chief over all the Digger Indians, stood in the centre of the party, and when all were quiet--not a whisper to be heard--he commenced his opening and welcome speech, delivering it with wonderful fluency, great vehemence, and wild and violent gesticulations. During his powerful address, he was frequently applauded by his well behaved and respectful auditory. The old chief was dressed in his best suit: his coat, which had been given him by an American soldier, fitted him about as well as the garments that are put on a stick to frighten off the crows from a corn field; in one pocket he had a couple of empty bottles, in the other a huge horse pistol, which once might have been a formidable weapon, but now lacked a trigger! When he had concluded his speech, he called out--''Ven Wollupie''--''si, si, signor.'' Two stout, well developed braves seized a tub of daintily prepared acorn gruel, and placed it before their delegation; others were called, who followed their example, until every squad was supplied with a tub of gruel; then, at the signal of the ''Captain,'' each Indian dipped his unwashed hands into the delectable food, and gulped down the gruel like a half-starved pig.

After the liberal entertainment was finished, the Convention or Pow Wow was called to order, and Wemah again addressed the motley crowd, with even more earnestness than before. There were unmistakable evidences of discontent. The fire in the centre of the council house was fast dying out; the discussion waxed warm; those of the Indians who could not get inside of the chamber, clambered on the roof, and peeped down the hole in the middle, heedless of the smoke, and the vile stench which issued forth in murky clouds. Wemah danced, frothed and expostulated, but all to no purpose. The ''Pow Wow'' lost all sense of propriety, and the clever old chief stalked out in apparent disgust. No sooner had his ''highness'' retired, than every ''pale face'' inside the council was unceremoniously ordered out.

As a report of the great speech of the evening would doubtless be interesting, though not familiar with the Indian language, I will endeavor to give a few sentences from memory's log: '' Ingin--no cara--ugh--bah--manayna--he, ya, hi--mucho Americano fight--si hugh--capitaw--ugh fire-water, whiskey aqua no good--sleepy--ha--he--yes! ''

I passed around the camp, and stopped in front of Wemah's wigwam. There the old chief lay flat upon his face, his military coat buttoned up to his chin, around him the numerous ladies of his household. Just then a friend called to me; I looked around, and found I was the only ''pale face'' within the camp--the small hours of another day had come around. I hastened to join my companions, when we returned to our wigwams, and sought and found refreshing sleep.

[August 1851]
One day, observing several acquaintances laughing heartily, I inquired the cause of their mirth, when my attention was directed to a procession of three Indians coming up the street. The first warrior was playing the jews-harp, as unconcernedly as though he had been in his wigwam, having only an apron on; the next hero was whistling, turning neither to the right nor left, but walking ahead, regardless of the loud laughing of the ''pale faces;'' his entire dress consisted of an old vest, and that unbuttoned! The last Indian was singing; he strutted proudly by, clad in a hickory shirt which he valued above price.

Whenever an Indian visited a trading establishment, the most gaudy colored handkerchiefs, calicos, &c., were shown him. Indians never value money; and I have seen them enter a store, put down their gold dust, and keep on buying until the
storekeeper would call out, ''all gone.''

I saw a finely developed brave come into one of the stores, gaze all around the room until his keen eye caught sight of a bundle of ''Arctic'' comforts, and although the weather was oppressively warm, he purchased several and wrapped them
around his waist, and stalked out as proud as an emperor.

These Indians were generally men of truth; whenever an Indian requested a garment to be laid aside for him it was done, for the merchant felt sure that he would return on the promised day.

On one occasion, chief Wolupe, next in rank to Capt. Wemah, ordered a heavy cloth coat, and promised to call with the ''oro'' after two ''sleepy;'' after the two ''sleepy'' passed, in walked the chief, and with a distressed look, announced that ''Injun man play push stick--lost him money, bah, ugh;'' but he promised to come back again after one ''sleepy,'' and he did and bought the coat. They are very fond of gambling, and use sticks instead of cards.

They are a temperate people, and afraid of ''fire-water.'' They are a virtuous people, but, of course, like all human beings, their characters exhibit both good and bad traits. They never use salt on their meat; when game is brought into camp, it is thrown on the fire, roasted, and then greedily devoured, with little regard to the rules of conventional society.

Acorns are a favorite article of food, and a full supply is always kept on hand for emergencies. They are a dirty, filthy people. Their active out-door life, and abstinence from rich cooked dishes, preserved them from many ailments with which more civilized people are afflicted. The poor squaws are compelled to labor very hard. The warriors holding any kind of work in utter contempt, they had rather starve than be tied to labor. The squaws are never allowed to idle away their time; while some are employed in pounding acorns, the rest are sent out to search for esculent roots and vegetables. An acquaintance of mine expressed a desire to have a smart-looking Indian boy to live with him; he was accommodated, but after a couple of days' life among the ''pale faces,'' Indian boy vamosed without saying, ''by your leave, sir.''

A couple of gentlemen wished to get up a grand Indian war-dance at Nevada, and while they would feast the Indians for their performance, they anticipated a considerable profit on the speculation. Captain Wemah acquiesced, and his whole
tribe was soon preparing for the ''first grand exhibition by native Indians;'' and as Captain Wemah had always been friendly to the whites, he hoped for a full attendance.

Handbills were printed and distributed far and wide; great inducements set forth, and the price of tickets only two dollars each. One morning I was standing at the head of Mill street, and observed chief Wemah riding along on an old scraggy-looking pony, bowing to everybody, followed by his warriors, braves squaws and little ones; nearly every squaw had a huge willow basket strapped to her back. Away they scampered in the happiest humor, bound for the exhibition. At night I saw the captain and his train returning in the worst humor. I asked him what was the matter? he replied: ''Americana no good, bah!''

Some rowdy fellows had broken down the inclosure, stopped the performances; and the Indians were as mad as California panthers. They, however, lost nothing--they had plenty of fresh beef and bread; but the managers made a bad speculation--lost two hundred dollars. They had purchased several beeves, had them killed and dressed for the performers, but the rowdies interrupted the performances, and they sold no tickets.