The description within the receipt also provided information on the wage rate. For white laborers, the daily rate was $2.50. Chinese labor was paid at $1.50 per man per day. I created a spreadsheet to compare the Chinese labor costs to that of white labor employed by the American River Water and Mining Company. Where the number of men and daily rate was not specifically mentioned, I imputed the daily rate by the total dollar amount. For example, Ah Sune was paid $13.50 for nine days work on cleaning out the Fox’s Ravine ditch in the Rose Springs district. Nine days times $1.50 per day comes out to $13.50.
“Amos P. Catlin, The Whig Who Put Sacramento On The Map,” chronicles Amos’ life from his arrival in California in 1849 to his death in 1900 in Sacramento. Particular attention is paid to Amos’ work on organizing and building the Natoma water ditch in the early 1850s. It was during the ditch construction that Amos was elected to the California Senate. He wrote the bill to relocate the state’s capital to Sacramento. However, Amos did not consider the water projects or the state capital his most significant accomplishments in life.
A dam site at Salmon Falls was too low in elevation to allow for the ditch to exit the river canyon between Red Bank and Mormon Island. Consequently, the dam site was moved to Rocky Bar which had an elevation of approximately 450 feet. With a small dam across the river, the headwaters for the canal would be elevated to 465 feet. The minimal slope of the ditch line would put the water canal at between 390 to 395 feet of elevation at the saddle.
By 1849, because of the Gold Rush, Sacramento had become a magnet for immigrants seeking their fortune in the gold fields. The Sacramento River was the primary conduit for passage from San Francisco. The importance of the river corridor prompted an 1850 hydrographic expedition to map the Sacramento River and associated sloughs, along with the […]
The one line of business Amos did try to explain was his investment in a steam engine for a saw mill. He thought the saw mill would produce him the most income, and he was proud of his investment. “The engine belongs to me, a beautiful 12 horse locomotive which cost me $3,000.” He then goes on to loosely explain the business arrangement and business proposition. We also learn that he was the main salesman for the operation.
By today’s standards, it seems absolutely crazy that anyone would invest money in property or infrastructure when there was no clear title to the land and the State of California continually threatened to strip Folsom of his ownership of the Leidesdorff estate. But this was the state of California in the 1850s. Even before the untimely death of Folsom, he and other men were pushing forward with their development plans in Sacramento County. Folsom had been working with the Sacramento Valley Railroad to run a line from Sacramento to Negro Bar on the south side of the American River over the Leidesdorff land grant.
The regional newspapers started to sniff that the politics were changing and that there was a desire to vacate Benicia. The Stockton newspapers were advocating that the capital be located in Stockton. Senator Crabb presented a proposal offering the Stockton Court House, plus, the city would pay for the move. Crabb argued that the climate was the same as Sacramento, had river access, and as a bonus, also hosted the State’s Insane Asylum, where legislators could take a brief respite from their hallucinations of grandeur.
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.
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 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.