Imágenes de páginas

corner is 225.25 feet north of intersection of center lines of Troost avenue and First street.

Y. Point bears north 28° 25' west, 430 feet distant from a point which bears south 62° 30' west, 3,133 feet distant from point k.

Z. Point bears north 55° 43′ west, 553 feet distant from a point which bears south 59° 33' west, 1,495 feet distant from point k.

A A. Point on line between sections 33 and 34 and 158 feet north of point k.

B B. Intersection of harbor line and revetted bank, bears north 53° 50′ east, 1,525 feet distant from point k.


ANNUAL REPORT OF THE CALIFORNIA DÉBRIS COMMISSION, 1893. [Printed in House Ex. Doc. No. 16, Fifty-third Congress, second session.]


San Francisco, Cal., November 15, 1893. GENERAL: The California Débris Commission has the honor to submit the following report:

The Commission owes its existence to an act of Congress entitled "An act to create the California Débris Commission, and regulate hydraulic mining in the State of California," approved March 1, 1893. (Appendix E.)

The jurisdiction of the Commission, defined by section 3 of the act, extends to hydraulic mining in the territory drained by the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems in California.

The Commission was organized in San Francisco on June 8, 1893, the senior officer becoming president, and the junior secretary and disbursing officer. Lieut. Gillette, Corps of Engineers, on reporting to the Commission for duty became, by authority of the Chief of Engineers, disbursing officer, relieving Maj. Heuer of his responsibility in money and property on November 8.


On the date of its organization the Commission, as required by the act of Congress, adopted a set of rules for performance of business and instructions for applicants for permission to mine by hydraulic process. A copy of these rules and instructions is appended, marked A. These instructions are stated to be preliminary, and subject to changes as experience shall be found to require. A further schedule of requirements has been prepared, which fully outlines operations and instructions.

In cases where mining properties are large, and the hydraulic process is to be operated on a large scale, it is regarded as indispensable that the project be fully presented by written description and by full drawings. These drawings will show the position and extent of the storage reservoirs and the means proposed for restraint of detritus, and, generally, all that is necessary for a full record of the case. permit is issued subsequent mining operations will be recorded by a system of reports from the operators, and by inspection under direction of the Commission.

If a

The greater number of applications will, however, come from owners of small properties, where two or three men are to operate the system, or where the miners are not in a position to furnish fully all desired information, either from want of knowledge or from want of means to hire suitable engineering advisers. These are cases where the output is small. Many are in remote parts of the country and work only for ENG 94- -199


two or three months of water supply during the year. In such cases the Commission expects to use its discretion in its requirements as to the form and fullness of applications. Inspection, however, of all mines in operation will be maintained.

As required by law, the Commission generally, by a committee of its members, has in every case visited the locality of the application. Some of these journeys require five or six days of arduous traveling in the mountains.

The number of applications for permission to mine has not been great. Of late they come in faster.

The new system of limitations and restrictions has to be studied by the miners. An application involves expense. If the application be granted further expense is involved in impounding arrangements. The system is a novelty; its workings are yet to be defined in practice. The miner is in the hands of the Commission; his permit, once granted, may be revoked in the discretion of the Commission; he is uncertain whether his practical devices for impounding will be understood; the uncertainty whether or not, even if all goes well with the Commission, he may not be involved in litigation. These and other circumstances are sufficient to account for hesitation and delays.

The Commission has no means as yet of estimating the number of applications with which it will have to deal. In 1880 more than 400 hydraulic mines were reported to be in operation within the drainage area of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers.

The assessors of the mining counties reported in 1880 over 10,000,000 inches of water used in mining. The State engineer's estimate of the quantity of gravel mined in that year exceeded 38,000,000 cubic yards. The amount of workable gravel yet remaining is indeterminate. Com petent authorities place it at several hundred million cubic yards.

It is not supposed that the Commission will have to deal with all, or nearly all, of this great mass; but, on the other hand, it is not possible yet to estimate the percentage to come under our control. Much depends upon the working of the system of control during the coming year.

It is probable that the increased expenditures, and the restrictions upon freedom of operations involved by the new system of regulation, may act to make mining in many cases less profitable than formerly, thereby reducing the magnitude of the output and the number of applications.

A list of all applications presented to the Commission is appended, marked B. Upon this list are shown the locality of mine, brief, and date of application, and action, if any, taken by the Commission.


The following are sections of the State code of laws in force in California:

SEC. 1424. The business of hydraulic mining may be carried on within the State of California wherever and whenever the same can be carried on without material injury to the navigable streams or the lands adjacent thereto.

SEC. 1425. Hydraulic mining, within the meaning of this title, is mining by means of the application of water under pressure, through a nozzle, against a natural bank. This definition is accepted by the act of March 1, 1893, which, in section 8, provides that "hydraulic mining, and mining by the hydrau lic process, are hereby declared to have the meaning and application given to said terms in said State" (California).

This method of mining was practiced for many years on a large scale within the territory over which the jurisdiction of the Commission now extends. Large sums of money were invested by miners and capitalists in construction of reservoirs in high altitudes in the Sierra Nevada; in canals of many miles in length, traced along the steep flanks in the mountains; in long systems of wrought-iron conduits, ending at the ground to be worked, and in trenches, outlet tunnels, and sluices, in which the gold was gathered, and through which the detritus of stones, gravel, sand, and clay was carried away from the mines.

A system of wonderful efficiency was developed from these elements. by which it became practicable to wash with profit gravel containing a few cents per ton. But for this system the great placer deposits must, for the most part, have remained undisturbed for the reason that, while exceptional deposits of gravel lying close to the bedrock in some cases produce as much as several dollars per cubic yard, the average product from the top to the bottom of these gravel deposits, which are often several hundred feet in height, is but a few cents per cubic yard, and not enough to repay the cost of mining by any other process than the one herein before described.

But with a great output of gravel, say perhaps as much as 10,000 cubic yards per day, effected by large quantities of water under great pressure, which excavated the gravel and removed it, under the direction of a few men, there was probably a profit even when the product did not exceed 10 cents per cubic yard.

So it came about that everywhere in the mining territory where auriferous deposits of sufficient extent were found so situated as to be accessible to water supply, and at sufficient elevation above the rivers to give fall to the sluices adequate to carry off the detritus, monitors were at work washing down hills and transferring them to the beds of adjacent streams, down which they were moved by freshets to the plains and water courses of the valleys, whereon and wherein large deposits were made.


The private and public injuries thus created and perpetuated in increasing degree gradually developed opposition among the valley people, and gave rise to litigation, which eventuated in an injunction by the circuit court of the United States in 1884, forbidding a certain mine to use the beds of streams as a dumping ground for mining detritus. This injunction remains in force. Its date marked the beginning of a period of decline, and, afterwards, suspension of hydraulic mining operations, which, with exceptions of more or less importance, yet lasts. Reworking of tailings in beds of streams has, however, been continued during the intervening years.

In the course of this controversy, which lasted over a number of years, there grew up in the Sacramento Valley an organization, entitled the Anti-débris Association. It is composed of delegates from counties or districts injuriously affected by hydraulic mining, and is supported by funds procured by taxation in four or five counties situated in the valley. This association has its attorneys and inspectors. It collects information and aids in prosecution of cases.

The United States also appears in its own courts as complainant, and has asked for injunctions against parties charged with depositing mining detritus not only in the beds of streams tributary to navigable

waters, but elsewhere, to the alleged injury of navigation. Two cases have been decided in the circuit court for the ninth circuit, northern district of California; one in the matter of the North Bloomfield Gravel Mining Company, opinion dated October 5, 1892, the other in the case of the Brandy City mines, under the same date.

These cases touch closely the operations of this Commission as defined by the act of March 1. The reason assigned for refusing an injunction against the North Bloomfield Company, and those assigned for granting an injunction in the second case, mark an important distinction between detritus impounded in the beds of streams subject to freshets, tributary to navigable waters, and storage in reservoir sites not traversed by natural water courses. These decisions are appended,

marked C.


Mining operations have disclosed the fact that the deposits of auriferous gravel are in the beds of extinct rivers, lying high on the western flanks of the Sierra Nevada, one to several thousand feet higher than the adjacent modern rivers. It is assumed that existing rivers have cut their channels since the period during which the ancient rivers became first filled, and then obliterated, by overflow of eruptive mat ter. The excavation of these channels in past years by the hydraulic process, to the extent of many million cubic yards, has left large cavities, now available for refilling with new detritus. These pits are admirable reservoir sites. They are bounded by side walls of rock, often from one hundred to several hundred feet in height. In width they vary very much, being in places as much as a thousand feet. No natural water course traverses them and the natural drainage is of little extent. To refill them is to restore them to the state of nature, making them no more a source of contribution of earthy material to the streams than are the natural slopes adjacent. If barriers to restrain are necessary they are so only during the process and duration of mining. The barriers may afterwards decay, but the detritus remains impounded. This circumstance was recognized by the court in its refusal to enjoin the North Bloomfield Company, and it is the key of the decision.

It is, however, true that these sites are not profitably available for storage in quantities at all approaching the contents as they were in a state of nature. Some of them may not be at all practicable sites for any great amount of storage. This is due to the fact that often there is not fall enough from the gravel to be mined to the level of the reservoir site. A fall of at least 100 feet to the mile is generally necessary to enable the sluices to carry the detritus. Much more fall than this is used when available. The fall diminishes as the reservoir becomes filled. The limit of profitable mining may be reached before the best ground in the mine, that which lies lowest, is broken.

Under such circumstances the miner has a resource in elevating the gravel. This is done by using a large portion of his water power to raise the material to a higher level. It is practiced to some extent. It lessens very much the quantity that can be worked in a given time by a given water power. Nevertheless it has been used to lift to heights as great as 80 feet.

A second point worthy of attention in the decision in the North Bloomfield case relates to the condition of escaping water, wasted after it performs its full mining duty. The court practically holds that

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