Slike strani
PDF
ePub

is a heavy bed of volcanic breccia. That this, however, as well as the adjacent cone, and many other peaks scattered over the country to the north, is wholly of volcanic origin, having been erupted from a craterlike orifice, admits of no doubt. The exact height of Mount Shasta, for a long time a somewhat mooted question, was a few years since definitely settled by the members of the State Geological Survey, in accordance with the figures above given.

Near Elk valley, which affords some of the finest views of Mount Shasta, anywhere to be had, there are said to be numerous caves which, though never fully explored, are supposed to extend for a great distance under the lava formation that here marks the geology of the country. Near Hurd's ranch there occurs also a very extensive cavern known as "Pluto's cave." It consists of a long gallery in some parts sixty feet high, and varying in width from twenty to fifty feet. The soil of Elk valley, composed mostly of volcanic sand, is barren and incapable of sustaining any vegetation, except a few worthless shrubs.

Shasta valley, like the Pitt valley, is a barren lava plain, containing, however, a few fertile spots. Rising from this plain, which has an altitude of over three thousand feet, are numerous conical hills of volcanic origin, that impart to the region a wild and rugged aspect.

There are many other mountains, valleys, caverns, and other natural objects and points of interest, in this extensive county, rendering it an attractive field to the scientific and curious.

Notwithstanding so large a portion of Siskiyou is covered with sterile valleys and arid plateaus, there is still much good farming and grazing land within its limits, as well as a wide scope of valuable placers. Numerous promising quartz lodes have also been found in the western part of the county, some of which have been extensively and profitably worked. Without going into more details, the magnitude of these several interests is sufficiently indicated by the following statements: The value of the real and personal property in the county was last year estimated at $2,000,000; 50,000 acres of land were enclosed, and 20,000 under cultivation. The number of acres planted to wheat were 3,500, producing 70,000 bushels ; barley, 1,200 acres, producing 25,000 bushels; and of oats, 3,000 acres, producing 80,000 bushels.

There are at this time six quartz mills in the county, carrying forty stamps, erected at an aggregate cost of $60,000; eight grist mills, capable of grinding four hundred barrels of flour daily, and costing a total of $150,000; fifteen saw mills, with capacity to cut from two to four thousand feet of lumber, each, daily, built at an average expense of $6,000. There are twenty-one ditches constructed for introducing water into the mines; these vary in length from three to eighty-five miles, and cost from one to three hundred thousand dollars each—the latter being the amount expended in the construction of the Shasta River Canal, built to carry the waters of that stream into the diggings about Yreka, and points further north, a distance of eighty-five miles. The present population of Siskiyou is estimated at six thousand, being somewhat less than it was eight or ten years ago.

SHASTA COUNTY.

This county derives its name from Mount Shasta, formerly situated within its limits, but thrown into Siskiyou on the creation of the latter from a portion of Shasta, in 1852. Shasta is bounded on the north by Siskiyou, on the east by Lassen, on the south by Plumas and Tehama, and on the west by Trinity county. The county is watered by the Sacramento river and its numerous confluents, which, from a point near its southern border, radiate to its outer limits in every direction, rendering it one of the best watered counties in the State. Eroded by the action of so many large streams, the surface of the country is greatly diversified by mountains, hills and valleys—some of the ridges between these water courses, forming outlying spurs from the Sierra Nevada on the east and the Coast Range on the west, being rugged and lofty. The main Sierra, trending northwest to form its junction with the coast mountains, crosses the eastern portion of the county, imparting to it a truly Alpine character. Standing in this range, and stretching twothirds of the distance across the county, are four high peaks, severally named, Lassen's, Crater, Magee's, and Barney's peak, separated from each other by spaces of ten or twelve miles. They are all of volcanic origin, as are many other peaks and buttes in the vicinity, and elsewhere in the county.

Lassen's Peak has four distinct summits, the highest of which has an altitude of ten thousand five hundred and seventy-seven feet, as determined by Messrs. Brewer and King, of the State Geological Survey, who ascended it in 1863, and ascertained its height by careful measurement. These summits, rising from two hundred and fifty to three hundred and fifty feet above the common level of the mountain, are only the remaining portions of what was once the rim of the great crater, formed when this was an active volcano. Near the top of this mountain occur, as in the case of Mount Shasta, evidences of long continued solfatara action, which here has ceased many years since. Viewed from the north or south, this peak presents the shape of a flatened dome, while, seen from the east or west, it has the appearance of a very steep cone. It is timbered for about two thirds of the distance to its summit, which is covered with snow on its northern slopes a good portion of the year. Some of the cones to the north, both those along the line of the Sierra and others scattered over the volcanic table lands in this part of the county, present, in their outlines, steep, pointed ridges, while, in other cases, they have circular craters on the top, all indicating for them a common origin. They vary in height from six thousand to nine thousand feet, there being at a point five miles north of Lassen's Peak a cluster of irregular truncated cones of less altitude, and evidently of more recent formation, and which, between 1854 and 1857, were constantly emitting large quantities of steam and gases. Numerous traces of well marked glacial action are found on Lassen's Peak, at an elevation of between six thousand and nine thousand feet. One of the best preserved craters in this region, so abounding with the remains of former volcanoes, is found near Butte creek, ten miles east of Fort Reading, where a cone, rising from the lava slope to a height of two thousand six hundred and thirty-three feet—eight hundred and fifty-six feet above its base—presents a well defined crater on its top, the rim about nine hundred yards in circumference and two hundred and twenty-five feet deep, nearly circular, remaining almost entirely perfect.

.With so many rivers and mountain torrents, the surface of this county is cut by numerous valleys, some of them devoid of alluvial deposits, while others contain a considerable scope of bottom lands along the margin of the streams, or spread out into broad flats or mountain meadows. The climate in these valleys, though warm in the summer, is, throughout the balance of the year, mild and equable, snow and extreme cold weather being of rare occurrence even in the winter. That the temperature does not fall to a very low point, is shown by the fact that not only the hardier fruits of the north, but also the fig, pomegranate, cotton, almond, and other semi-tropical plants and fruits thrive here in the open air—Shasta being also one of the few counties in the State in which tobacco has been grown in notable quantities and of tolerable flavor.

The entire northern and western portions of the county are covered with forests of conifers of nearly every variety, except the redwood, which is never found so far from the coast; on the lower hills, scattered groves of live oak are common, with a species of ash along some of the streams. The eastern part of the county abounds in hot and boiling springs, several of which occur in the vicinity of Lassen's Peak and are worthy of at least a passing notice. From one of the number, known as the '' Steamboat Spring," issues quite a stream of boiling water, while from numerous vents, scattered over several acres in the vicinity, clouds of steam are constantly escaping. In one place a steam jet issuing in a pool of hot water, throws it up to a height of seven or eight feet with a loud noise. Formerly this action was much more violent than at present, the column of water being thrown to a height of over twenty feet. Two miles northwest of this spring, and nearly eight east of the summit of Lassen's Peak, is a pool of hot water six hundred feet long and three hundred wide, known as the "Boiling lake.' From this pool, the water, always kept at boiling point, issues in a stream about two feet wide and several inches deep. It is of a milky color, and in places thickened almost to the consistency of cream. From this viscid material, especially about the banks of the pond, where it has accumulated, jets of steam puff up, forming a sort of mud pustule, or minature volcano, from a few inches to three or four feet in height. Clouds of steam and sulphurous gases escape from crevices in the surrounding lava, which is slowly wasting away under their action. About four miles northwest of the Boiling lake are still more copious hot springs, their chemical action on the adjacent rocks being also much more extensive. They occur for half a mile along a canon, and discharge a large volume of water. The neighborhood abounds in sulphur; this mineral, sublimated in the numerous cavities, crystalizing on the surrounding rocks in the most delicate and beautiful manner. Salt and sulphur springs occur in various parts of the county, some of the latter being considered valuable for their medicinal properties.

An outcrop of coal of very fair quality has been found on Cow creek, whence it has been traced for eight or ten miles in a northwest direction. This bed is composed of several strata, one of which has been opened to a considerable depth, and found to consist of about one foot of coal associated with several feet of shale. This coal has been tried by the blacksmiths in the neighborhood, and pronounced well suited for the uses of the forge. A coal vein has also been extensively opened near Round mountain, and exhibits at the present time a very favorable appearance.

The population of this county is estimated at about six thousand, of whom one thousand two hundred are residents of the town of Shasta, the county seat. This is a lively place and has a considerable trade in the summer, being a supply point for a large scope of mining country to the north, east and west. It was at one time an active mining camp, but the exhaustion of the placers in the immediate vicinity has left it dull in this respect—it still, however, presents a comfortable and inviting aspect , being full of gardens, orchards and vineyards, and containing a number of well built private dwellings and public edifices. The settlement of some of tho more remote agricultural valleys has been somewhat retarded by the hostility of the Indians, who have, in numerous instances, butchered whole families going into these localities to settle at an early day. Efforts are now being made for the establishment of an Indian reservation in this county, a measure that would probably benefit all parties, both the whites and the Indians. Scattered over about one thousand square miles of territory, comprised within the limits of Tehama, Shasta, Siskiyou and Lassen counties, are the following tribes of Indians: the Pitt river, Shasta, Hat creek, Pushus, Pah-Utahs, Antelopes, Nosers, Sacramentos, Tonatons and McClouds, embracing over two thousand souls in all, for whom no provision has hitherto been made by the Indian Department of the Government. The valleys and fisheries from which they formerly procured the most of their subsistence having been occupied entirely by tho whites, renders it difficult for these people to longer sustain themselves upon the natural products of the earth, hence they are forced, in some cases, to depredate upon the whites, or suffer from the pangs of hunger. If they steal the property, or kill the stock of the settlers, the latter retaliated by shooting the Indians, who, in return, murder the whites whenever opportunity offers for them to do so with safety, and thus,- a constant warfare is kept up to the great injury of both races. The plan of gathering these savages upon reservations, where, with good management, it is found they can be rendered self-sustaining, contributes not only to their comfort and safety, but also secures the whites against their further assaults and depredations.

With so many fertile valleys, and a climate so genial, the agricultural resources of Shasta, as will readily be supposed, are by no means inconsiderable. The number of acres of land enclosed, in this county, was estimated, in 1867, to be about 65,000, of which 35,000 were under cultivation; 10,000 acres, planted to wheat, yielded 150,000 bushels; 7,000 acres, planted to barley, yielded 190,000 bushels; and 2,000 acres, planted to oats, yielded 50,000 bushels. Besides these cereals, Indian corn, rye and buckwheat are grown to some extent, as well as broom-corn and tobacco, with nearly every variety of fruits, vegetables and berries—much stock is also kept in the county, and considerable quantities of butter and cheese made every year. In 1866 Shasta contained one thousand nine hundred and forty-two mules, ranking next

« PrejšnjaNaprej »