The experience of Black Americans and their contributions had been mere footnotes or commas in the printed saga of California of the 19th century. The visible traces of Black Americans of the Gold Rush are the names of places such as Negro Bar, Negro Hill, and the Negro Hill Ditch. Both Negro Hill and the ditch only exist on maps as Folsom Lake now covers both. Similarly, Negro Bar only partially remains above the high water of Lake Natoma.
Posts related to the American River in California, history, hiking, pictures, maps.
Perhaps that was a necessity, although it does not seem to me to be so, because no solid or fecal matter is discharged into these sewers, or these drains which we call sewers. The city authorities have strictly adhered to the policy, if it is a policy, of having all the matter sink into the soil upon which the city is built, to saturate it, permeate it, and fester there and breed disease. And a city having a system of sewers like that comes into Court here in the name of the People of the State and complains that we have destroyed its sewerage system. Well, such a sewerage system as that ought to be destroyed. It never ought to be allowed to exist.
It has been pointed out that several features or bends of the American River are not illustrated. I don’t believe it was the intent of the map maker to accurately depict river but to note its relative position to the mines. The distances of 25 miles to the lower mines and of 50 miles to the upper mines is pretty accurate. The lower mines were also known as Mormon Island for the first group of miners who did extensive mining after the initial discovery of gold by Marshall. The distance to the upper mines, site of Marshall’s gold discovery is also relatively accurate considering hilly terrain that had to be traversed to get to the location.
Within the 90 foot elevation change of the lake, it was proposed that all standing and down timber, brush over 6 feet high or with trunks greater than 2 inches in diameter would be cleared out. Trees whose height reached to 360 feet in elevation would be topped to 10 feet below the expected low water elevation.
By the time of the Army Corp report conducted its inventory most of the North Fork Ditch had been lined with concrete. Many of the appurtenances were also concrete such as wasteways, intake structures and sluice gates. Of the 37 flumes, 32 were constructed of timber and only 5 were metal. The timber flume construction allowed them to be built with small changes or bends in the direction to navigate around boulders and hillsides. The metal flumes, by contrast, were best adapted to spanning a small ravine in a straight line.
There is no record of when the last Native American camp ceased to exist in the Folsom Lake region. Many historians note that by 1853, most of the Native American population had dispersed, move south, died in conflicts with immigrant settlers, or died of disease. But there is no doubt that there was a thriving Native American population and culture along the north and south forks of the American River. Where Native Americans once ground acorns, skinned deer, or fashioned tools from local rocks, Folsom Lake visitors now fish, hike, ride horses, bikes, and have picnics.
What the house lacked in modern amenities, according to John, was more than made up for in the wild El Dorado County countryside that surrounded it. Fostered by the books John’s father read to him, his imagination blossomed and streams, fields, and hillsides were his land of adventure. There were whales to harpoon, witches to avoid, and Indian wars to recreate. By virtue of being an only child, John was forced out into the sunshine and fresh air to create his own daily entertainment.
Invariably, whenever the Bureau of Reclamation releases water stored behind Folsom Dam during the winter before the reservoir is full, people across the region accuse the Bureau of mismanagement, incompetence, and wasting water. The management of Folsom reservoir is complicated. But during the winter months, the main priority of Folsom Dam is flood control. That is why the dam was built in the first place.
With just four Live Oaks (Quercus agrifolia nee) in my backyard, I will usually rake up 2 to 3 wheelbarrow loads of acorns every fall. Until I started reading about Maidu Native Americans that lived in the Granite Bay area of California, I hadn’t considered acorns as a food source. After I had documented numerous Native American acorn grinding-hole sites around Folsom Lake, I figured that I should try and prepare some acorn mush that was a staple of the Native American diet prior to the gold rush of the 1850s.
It can be a difficult task to locate the faint outlines of the Negro Hill Ditch which is usually under water at Folsom Lake. But when the lake is low enough it’s possible to find the old grade and structures associated with the historic water canal that ran from east of Salmon Falls down to Negro Hill and Massachusetts Flat. In the autumn of 2016 I was able to complete my goal of walking along most of the Negro Hill Ditch.