Friday, August 13, 2010

Malakoff Diggins

On my second day in California I went out to a state park with my dad. Nevada City is rich in gold mining history and when I lived there it was a part of the landscape. There are several museums around town and you can see mining artifacts placed throughout.

Malakoff Diggins is one of those leftovers from the Gold era of Northern California. This was the site where a certain kind of mining was developed. What they did was take water and blast it at the mountain sides using high pressure. This would cause the mountain to break up and the dirt would come down in a slurry, where it then went down a slide that collected the gold. The result of this was environmental destruction but also amazing white-washed bare rock outcroppings.

We went up to Malakoff Diggins and enjoyed a picnic lunch in the North Bloomfield town (once called Humbug) that is now a State Park. First we stopped at a local market, which is well known for supplying organic and natural goods.

North Bloomfield experienced it’s heyday from the late 1860’s to 1884, with nearly 1,500 inhabitants and more than 100 buildings serving as a supply base for the township.  These buildings included 5 hotels, 8 saloons, 2 livery stables, 2 dry goods stores, 2 breweries, 3 boot makers, 3 fraternal organizations, a school, a barbershop, a drug store, a butcher, a baker, a dairy, and 2 churches.
 It was a quaint little mountain town with shady old trees and dusty porches. The air was clear and the area was quiet.
After lunch we made it just in time to join in on a historical tour through the town. It was fun to learn interesting facts about how people lived back then.
First we went into the barn and admired the wagons.
The geographic area around my Dad's town is rugged and marked with many winding roads. We imagined what it must of been like for people a long time ago to get through that rough terrain with just their wagon.

We moved on to the saloon, where we heard a story about the building.
What was interesting was that the door handles were very low, nearly knee-level. This was because they needed to make room for the window. They couldn't afford the kerosene lamps to be used often so instead needed to utilize as much daylight as possible, thus the need for large windows.
Inside you saw a small room with a bar and some tables. The tour guide told us how this bar was meant to be peaceful and no fighting was allowed.Also that they brewed their own beer so that made it cheaper than usual beers at the time.
After looking around the saloon the group moved on to more sites, but we decided to move on. We got back in the car and drove a little bit up the road to go to Blair Lake. This was a lake my dad took us to when we were kids and visiting him in the summer time. I recall swimming around in this lake and playing in a blow-up boat. Also there was a dock in the middle where you could go to and jump off. When we got there we saw a few surprises.

Turns out the dock wasn't there and it seemed the shoreline had changed. It turns out that about 11 years ago they drained the lake and dug it out deeper. They did this so to make it into a fishing derby lake. These days there are trout and other fishing living in the lake. You can still go swimming but the dock isn't there anymore.

We enjoyed walking on the trail around the lake.
There was a small waterfall.
Overall it was a great experience to share with my father. Actually, I forgot to mention that as we were driving into the park a large brown bear crossed our path in front of the car. That was certainly a thrilling moment.

Blair Lake was originally a small hydraulic mine back in the 1800s.  Gold yield from the gravel was low so owners dammed the drain end to form a reservoir.  The lake has been dredged several times and the water is tested annually.  Mercury and other heavy metals are within normal and safe levels. 

5 comments:

  1. Shucks...no foto of the bear?!
    I know it must've smelled really nice up there in the forest... was it extremely dry and hot?

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  2. It was hot around the town but near the lake was nice.

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  3. wow.. there were many real American.

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  4. Looks like a cool place to visit! You seem to be enjoying your vacation!

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  5. posts are so awesome, thanks for sharing. and yea its like a cool place .... hiking Malakoff Diggins

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