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and was made of the hard shell of a species of edible mollusca, which abounds along the southern coast. These shells were rounded, had a hole made in the middle, and were strung on fibres of wild hemp. This was the only currency in the country until 1820. Santa Rosa is now inhabited by several Mexican families, who raise a considerable number of cattle, besides herding ten thousand sheep.
San Miguel is nearly eight miles long, and from two to three miles wide. It is almost a barren rock; but several thousand sheep manage to subsist upon the limited pasturage growing on the island. About forty miles southeast from the above cluster of islands, and off the coast opposite Los Angeles county, are the islands of San Nicolas and Santa Barbara, and still further in the same direction are Santa Catalina and San Clemente. These are not so close together, or as near the shore, as the others.
San Nicolas, the most western, is nearly sixty miles from the main land. It is eight miles in length, by about four miles in width. Its surface is a flat ridge, nearly six hundred feet high, tapering down in rocky ledges to the sea. It is occupied as a sheep ranch; about eight thousand of these animals appear to thrive on the scant herbage it produces.
Santa Barbara lies about half-way, and nearly in line, between the main land and San Nicolas. It is nearly circular in outline, and about two miles in diameter at the base; its surface, on the top, containing about thirty acres. It is about five hundred feet high—steep and rocky on all sides, and is tenanted by swarms of sea-lions, gulls, and other aquatic birds.
Santa Catalina, the largest island of this group, is about four hundred miles south from San Francisco, and twenty-five miles from San Pedro, its nearest point to the main land. It is nearly twenty-eight miles in length, about seven miles wide on its southern, and two miles on its northern end. Its surface is rough and uneven, some points being three thousand feet above the sea-level, but contains several small valleys which are under cultivation, fruit-trees and vegetables thriving in these sheltered places, while quite large flocks of sheep find pasturage among the surrounding hills. There is a small stream of pure water running nearly through its entire length; it also has a number of springs of fresh water. The mountains contain several large veins of white quartz, in which there are numerous deposits of argentiferous galena and copper ores. Wild goats, hogs, and quail abound in the upper portion of the hills. It has two good harbors near its center—Catalina bay on the south, and Union bay on the north— which are separated by an isthmus about half a mile wide. It was taken possession of by the United States, for military purposes, in January, 1864, and a company of soldiers have been stationed there since. This island, when first discovered, was inhabited by a tribe of Indians, who carried on quite a trade with the natives of the mainland, by means of large canoes. Not a relic of the race remains.
San Clemente, the most southern, lies about fifty miles from the main land, off San Diego county. It is twenty-two miles in length, by about two miles in width, being but little more than a series of rocky peaks, some of which rise upwards of one thousand feet above the level of the sea. It contains neither soil, vegetation, nor water. It is occasionally visited by seal-hunters, who make considerable quantities of oil from some of the animals found there.
THE COUNTIES OF CALIFORNIA.
Southern, Coast, Northern, Mountain and Valley Counties. Southern Counties: San Diego --San Bernardino—Los Angeles—Santa Barbara—San Luis Obispo—K ern. Coast Counties: Monterey—Santa Cruz—Santa Clara—San Mateo—San Francisco—Alameda— Contra Costa—Marin—Sonoma—Napa—Lake—Mendocino. Northern Counties: Humboldt—Trinity—Klamath—Del Norte—Siskiyou—Shasta—Lassen. Mountain Counties: Plumas— Sierra — Nevada — Placer—El Dorado—Amador—Alpine—Calaveras—Tuolumne—Mariposa—Mono—Inyo. Valley Counties: Tehama—Butte—Colusa—Sutter— Yuba—Yolo-Solano— Sacramento—San Joaquin—Stanislaus—Merced—Fresno—Tulare.
The great extent and peculiar topographical features of California cause some districts within its limits to differ so widely from others in soil, climate, and natural productions, that it is necessary to make a classification of the counties into which it is divided, in order to convey a clear idea of its resources and capabilities.
The semi-tropical heat, scant vegetation, and broad arid plains of San Diego and San Bernardino counties, on the south, are as much in contrast with the cold, pine-covered mountain regions of Del Norte county, on the north, as the State of Maine is in contrast with Florida. The counties embracing the crests of the Sierra Nevada, which have a climate of almost polar severity, inhabited solely on account of their mineral wealth, cannot, with propriety, be classed with those among the foot hills, which are as important for their agricultural as for their mineral resources; nor can these be classed with those in the Coast Range, or with those in the great central valley.
This extraordinary diversity of climate and soil, the dividing lines of which are so difficult to define, enables California to produce in perfection the grains, fruits, and vegetables peculiar to all countries—the olive, orange, pomegranate, cotton, and tobacco, flourishing in close proximity to the potato, wheat, flax, and rye—and insures the growth of the finest wools in districts where the vegetation is of a tropical character.
The unavoidable difference in the form and dimensions of the fifty counties into which the State is divided, renders it impossible to make more than an approximate partition of its territory according to climate or products, but as they are well defined and generally recognized, they are adopted in preference to making arbitrary lines.
San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Kern counties, comprise what is generally considered Southern California. Although only six in number, these counties embrace nearly one-third of the territory of the State. They contain above 50,000 square miles, or more than 30,000,000 acres of land, three fourths of which is adapted to agricultural or grazing purposes—much of it being the very garden of the State, producing the greatest variety of fruits, grain and vegetables.
The proportions of this important division of California not being clearly apparent through the above figures, we make the following comparison between them and some of the Atlantic States, because, although figures never lie, they do not always tell the whole truth: Massachusetts contains 7,800 square miles; Connecticut, 4,674; Rhode Island, 1,306; Vermont, 10,212; New Hampshire, 9,280; New Jersey, 8,320; Delaware, 2,120, and Maryland, 11,124; a total of 54,836 square miles for eight Atlantic States. These six southern counties of California contain nearly as much territory as all of those States, and a great deal more than either of the great States of New York, Pennsylvania, or Ohio. The present population of these counties does not exceed twenty-five thousand.
Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Lake, and Mendocino counties, located along the Coast Range, are classed under this head. They embrace only a small portion of the territory of the State, but contain the greater portion of its wealth and population, and are the chief centers of its trade, commerce, and manufactures.
Humboldt, Trinity, Klamath, Del Norte, Siskiyou, Shasta, and Lassen counties, comprise Northern California. They embrace a territory extending from the fortieth to the forty-second parallel of north latitude, and from the one hundred and twentieth to the one hundred and twenty-fifth degree of longitude, west.
Plumas, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Alpine, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Mariposa, Mono, and Inyo, embracing the main chain of the Sierra Nevada mountains, are considered the mountain counties. They are comparatively small in size, and although containing nearly all the important gold and silver mines in the State, the whole territory of the ten principal mining counties is not as large as that of the pastoral county of San Bernardino.
Tehama, Butte, Colusa, Sutter, Yuba, Yolo, Solano, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Fresno, and Tulare counties, located in the great central valleys, between the Sierra Nevada and the coast ranges, are classed as valley counties.
San Diego county comprises the most southern portion of the State. It extends along the border separating it from the peninsula of Lower California, from the Pacific Ocean on the west, to the Colorado river, on the east—a distance of one hundred and fifty miles. From north to south the county is one hundred miles in length. It is bounded on the north by San Bernardino county, on the east by Arizona, on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and contains 8,500,000 acres, of which the Colorado desert covers about 2,500,000 acres, about 4,000,000 of acres are mountains and canyons, and some 2,000,000 consist of level plains and valleys along the Coast Range, or among the mountains, suitable for farming or grazing.
Two unnamed branches of the Coast Range, passing through the county from north to south, separate it into three divisions, which differ as much from each other in climate, soil, and topographical features, as if they were in different portions of the globe. The division bordering the coast line forms a broad belt, nearly twenty-five miles wide, a very considerable portion of which consists of level plains or gently sloping valleys, which are watered by the San Bernardo, San Diego, San Luis Rey, Marguerita, Sweetwater, and other rivers, some of which are permanent streams, others dry up during the summer. The greater portion of the land in this division is adapted for agricultural and grazing purposes. Most of it is unoccupied.