60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Sacramento: Including Auburn, Folsom, and Davis
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In , miners blasted a tunnel through a ridge, diverting the Middle Fork away from the long oxbow of Horseshoe Bar and allowing the river bed to be mined for gold. This was the first mining tunnel driven in California. In order to force the river back into the tunnel, a narrow channel was blasted through the ledge, creating the formidable rapid known today as Tunnel Chute. These auriferous gravels are actually ancient river beds, which over millions of years were eroded away resulting in the placer gold deposits of the modern river.
60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Sacramento : Including Auburn, Folsom, and Davis
Because operations in Georgetown and other camps along the various divides were so high above the river, they could not use water from the Middle Fork, so extensive flume and ditch systems were constructed to bring water from tributaries. Much of this water came from Pilot Creek, a tributary of the Rubicon River. Mining had a significant environmental impact on the Middle Fork and beyond, as entire hillsides loosened by hydraulic operations sloughed down into the river and were carried into the Sacramento Valley during winter floods.
The damage to navigation and flood control was such that the state legislature banned hydraulic mining in , [ citation needed ] but even then the sediment continued to flow. A debris dam to contain sediment on the Middle Fork was first contemplated in Army Corps of Engineers was authorized to construct several dams in the American River basin to trap sediment.
The North Fork was dammed in —39 to form Lake Clementine.
Nearby on the Middle Fork, the Army Corps began construction on the Ruck-a-Chucky dam, but work was stopped in due to landslides at the dam site. In John C. Some specimens were removed from the site, including fossils of saber-toothed tigers, mastodons, and giant ground sloths, as well as Ice Age-era human remains.
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Many of these specimens are now stored at the University of California, Berkeley. By the Pacific Portland Cement Company was operating a limestone quarry near the site. In order to allow freight trains access to the quarry itself, a tunnel was excavated underneath the cave system near river level; the cave itself was left undisturbed. The railroad was abandoned in though most of its alignment, including the well known Mountain Quarries Bridge "No Hands Bridge" just downstream of the Middle Fork-North Fork confluence, remains as part of the Western States Trail.
In the early s, Hawver Cave was blocked off indefinitely by county officials after persistent vandalism. The old Native American trail Brewer had followed was subsequently used by some miners during the silver boom in Nevada, but due to its ruggedness and lack of water along much of the route, it failed to become a major crossing of the Sierra Nevada.
60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Sacramento: Including Auburn, Folsom, and Davis
This route, which in its section incorporated the Michigan Bluff to Last Chance Trail, an abandoned mining ditch grade between Georgetown and Auburn, as well as the Mountain Quarries Railroad grade, came to be known as the Western States Trail. Robie and several companions rode its entire length from Squaw Valley to Auburn in one day. Robie was a founder of the Western States Trail Ride, now known popularly as the Tevis Cup , an annual endurance ride along this course. Robie Trail. The Middle Fork Project detailed in the next section was constructed by the Placer County Water Agency for water supply and hydropower generation, after receiving approval from the Federal Power Commission in Anderson French Meadows Dam, completed in December , was the first major structure to be built.
Hell Hole Dam on the Rubicon River was still under construction at that time when massive flooding struck northern California.
60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Sacramento on Apple Books
However, since there were no permanent residences in the canyon, there was no loss of human life, and the floodwaters were contained by Folsom Lake , sparing the city of Sacramento from damage. In the U. During preliminary work on the dam, a unique curved cable-stayed bridge was proposed to span the Middle Fork arm of the reservoir at Ruck-a-Chucky. Its main clients are the U. However, PCWA has estimated that due to urban population growth, water demand may exceed its allocation before It operates several reservoirs in the upper Rubicon drainage, the largest being Loon Lake.
The first third of the trail from Auburn to Foresthill closely follows the Middle Fork canyon; parts of the trail were built on the alignment of old mining ditches, and are relatively flat.
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It then follows the northern ridge of the Middle Fork valley through the river's headwaters at the Sierra Crest before reaching Squaw Valley. The trail also links to the American River Parkway at its western end, allowing hikers and equestrians to travel all the way from Sacramento. There are many other trails that provide access from the rim of the canyon to various points along the river. The Middle Fork has whitewater rafting below Oxbow Reservoir; due to an informal agreement between Placer County Water Agency and the various commercial rafting companies operating on the Middle Fork, boatable flows are released year-round except in severe droughts.
Without the dams, river flow in late summer would average around cubic feet per second 8. The Middle Fork is still a site for recreational gold panning, although it is not nearly as popular as the South Fork. There are about active mining claims on the Middle Fork. Although the river is open year round, the use of equipment such as metal detectors is restricted.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved Geological Survey.
National Water Information System. Cartography by Allen, Neil et al. Benchmark Maps.
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Placer County Water Agency. Dec Forest Service. Army Corps of Engineers. Auburn Journal. Allan Jun Please review the types of cookies we use below. These cookies allow you to explore OverDrive services and use our core features.
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