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Hence it is desirable to collate in one volume a reliable statement of the salient facts concerning a region of so much interest; to make such a compilation as will serve as a magazine for the use of all who have occasion to write or speak about California, and which, when drawn upon by journalists abroad for popular articles, will disseminate correct information and ideas where these are most needed and will have the most beneficial effect . While this work has been prepared in a spirit of natural pride, everything like exaggeration has been guarded against. The material facts are set forth with plain speech, and often with statistical brevity—the reader being left, in most cases, to draw his own conclusions. The grand aim has been to give full and correct information—not to argue or commend.
Those who are most anxious for the rapid peopling and development of the State should desire no more than the accomplishment of this aim, which must supply the most effective of all arguments—those derived from the irrefutable logic of facts.
In pursuance of the ideas above set forth, the author has drawn upon every reliable source of information; has employed the best ability in original researches, and has collated a large amount of valuable matter not before printed. The whole material in the book, which embraces over 700 imperial octavo pages, has been gathered and written within a year—much of it within a few weeks of publication; so that the very latest official and other data have been availed of to make each department as fresh and complete as possible. The author has been assisted by a corps of specially qualified gentlemen, who have established reputations as statisticians, scientists, and writers on subjects of practical and economical interest, and most of whom have brought to this work the best results of years of experience and observation.
The division of the work comprises a variety of subjects, some of which may be mentioned here to afford an idea of the scope of the book: History, 70 pages; Geography, 20 pages; Description and Statistics of the Counties, separately, 237 ; Climate, 21 ; Agriculture, 43; Geology, 37; Zoology, 67; Flora, 27; Mining and Metallurgical Processes, 34; Mines and Mining, 34; Manufactures, 47; San Francisco, 23. Among the miscellaneous topics treated are the following: Immigration; Population; Literature; Educational Matters; Railroads; Petroleum; Shipbuilding; Telegraphs; City aud County Finances; U. S. Branch Mint, etc.
A very brief review of the more striking facts referring to California will be enough to satisfy those who may wonder at such an expenditure of literary labor upon our State, that it is entirely justified.
California's seven hundred miles of length, by about two hundred of width, embraces the same nine degrees of latitude which, on the Atlantic side of the continent, include the extensive and populous country stretching from Charleston, S. C, to Plymouth, Mass., a region occupied by portions of ten or twelve States. Within these limits, is an area of nearly 160,000 square miles—greater than the combined area of New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, or that of Great Britain and Ireland, with several minor German States thrown in. The outline of this great State on the map resembles that of an oblong trough, the Coast Range on the westward, or ocean side, and the Sierra Nevada on the east, with their interlocking extremities forming the rim, and enclosing a series of level valleys remarkable for their fertility, once basins of water, salt or fresh, now filled with the washings of uncounted years, but still subject to occasional partial floods. The mountain walls themselves are broken into innumerable smaller valleys, level like the others, those in the Coast Range being the largest and loveliest, and only slightly elevated above the ocean, those of the Sierra Nevada, and especially at the sources of its streams, and between its crest of double summits, attaining an elevation of from 3,000 to 7,000 feet, and enclosing charming lakes.
Although this State reaches to the latitude of Plymouth bay on the north, the climate, for its whole length, is as mild as that of the regions near the tropics; half the months are rainless ; Snow and ice are almost strangers, except in the high altitudes; there are fully 200 cloudless days, every year; roses bloom in the open air of the valleys through all seasons; the grape grows at an altitude of 3,000 feet with Mediterranean luxuriance; the orange, the fig, and the olive flourish as in their native climes; yet, there is enough variety of climate and soil to include all the products of the northern temperate zone, with those of a semi-trolneal character. The great valleys of the interior yield an average of 20 to 35 bushels of wheat per acre; crops of 00 bushels are not uncommon, while as high as 80 bushels have been known on virgin soil under the most favorable circumstances. The farmer loses less time here than in any other portion of the United States, or in any country of Europe.
It is remarkable that with these genial characteristics blends some of the grandest mountain scenery in the world. The Sierra Nevada contains the highest peaks known in North America. In its northern portion stands Mount Shasta, 14,440 feet high, and towering seven thousand feet above all surrounding peaks. In its southern portion, however, where the main chain attains its greatest general height, Mount Whitney rises about 15,000 feet, and is surrounded by a close congregation of 100 peaks, which are all above 13,000 feet, while the embracing region, for 300 square miles, has an elevation of 8,000 feet. Beside these figures the Alps become inferior. The Yosemite gorge has a world-wide celebrity for its granite walls, which rise perpendicularly as high as 4,400 feet, and over which tumble river currents that break in foam on the blue air, or sway in the breeze like veils of lace. In this splendid range occur those gold deposits, the most extensive ever known, which have yielded in twenty years $850,000,000, and are still yielding over 37 per cent. of the whole annual gold product of the world, or 10 per cent . more than Australia. In this range, or its offshoots, are also found mines of silver, copper, iron and coal, with smaller quantities of numerous other metals and minerals. Here are also the finest coniferous forests of America, including several groves of the largest and oldest trees in the world. More than all this, a large portion of the Sierra Nevada, rugged as it might seem to be from this description, is well adapted to cultivation and settlement; its lower ridges, its depressions and foot-hills, having a productive soil, and being accessible by good wagon roads, in some places by railroads already built or projected, while the mining communities furnish good markets. Agriculture in the mountain districts is becoming a striking feature of the industry of the State, and it is believed that for grape and fruit raising the high lands will hereafter be generally preferred. Many of these remarks are also true of the Coast Range, where mountains 3,000 feet high are often clothed to their summits with a thick growth of wild oats, which furnishes excellent pasture and hay; where the valleys are rich and picturesque, and where quicksilver, salt, sulphur, borax, and splendid redwood timber are found in abundance.
When such facts as the foregoing are recalled, it would seem strange that California hardly increased its population for many years, if we did not reflect how remote and isolated it has been from the great hives of the East, how little has been known abroad about its best qualities, and how fatal were the early vagabond mining methods and habits to permanent prosperity. Yet, for a community never exceeding from 400,000 to 500,000, all told, scattered over an area large enough to support 30,000,000, and beginning twenty years ago with but a handful of Caucasians, California has accomplished a great deal. If its gold product has fallen from $65,000,000 per annum to $25,000,000, its agricultural products have increased to an amount equal to half the largest gold yield ever known. The wheat crop alone, for 1867, was worth nearly as much as the gold, and the surplus of this staple freighted 223 ships, and reached a value of $13,000,000; while the total exports of home products, including about fifty different articles for which the State was formerly dependent on other lands, was about $17,000,000. The vintage of 1867 exceeded 3,500,000 gallons of wine and 400,000 gallons of brandy, the number of vines now growing in the State being about 25,000,000. The wool clip was 9,500,000 pounds, showing a gain of more than thirty per cent . over 1866. Silk, tobacco, hops, flax and cotton may now be ranked among the minor products that promise to be hereafter sources of profit. A silk factory and a sugar-beet factory are two of the new industries being established. The manufactures of the State are already estimated at $30,000,000 per annum. The best mining machinery in the Union is made here. The assessed value of real and personal property increased in 1867 about $21,000,000, running up the total taxable values of the State to some $221,000,000, and showing a gain of twenty per cent, in two years, the most prosperous years ever experienced in the State. It may be said that the genuine prosperity of California is only just begun. So long as a greater part of its population was engaged in surface mining there was little substantial gain, either materially or morally. The transition period to more regular and diversified industry was one of trial and discouragement; but it is nearly over, and on every hand may be seen the signs of improvement, in commerce, manufactures, agriculture and society. Mining itself is becoming a fixed pursuit, regulated by science, skill, and capital. One third of our gold product is now obtained from quartz veins worked by machinery, and this proportion is steadily increasing. Railroads are rapidly multiplying in the State. Within twelve months San Francisco will be connected by rail with all the principal towns of the interior, at distances from 50 to 200 miles, north, south or east, and with the Great Basin of Nevada and Utah, by the Pacific railroad. Telegraph lines ramify from the metropolis to all parts of the interior, connecting with British Columbia and every State in the Union. .0 -•
The running of two lines of steamships to Panama, and others to Mexico, British Columbia, Alaska, tho Sandwich Islands, Japan and China, have greatly increased our commerce and quickened immigration. A sound metallic banking system is in secure operation.
The State funds for educational purposes now aggregate nearly $1,000,000, and the interest upon this, with the aid of school taxes, supports an admirable system of free instruction. The means and the measures are ready for establishing a State University on a broad and permanent basis. The penal and benevolent institutions maintained by the State have been improved considerably, the latter, especially, being quite creditable, and including provision for the insane, the deaf and dumb and blind, the orphaned, and the youthful wrecks of society. Besides these, there are numerous and varied local establishments in San Francisco, which minister to the miseries and wants of the entire State with impartial charity.
The future of California is very bright, and those who have been faithful to her through nineteen or twenty years of remarkable vicissitudes and hardships, may well rejoice in the prospect . Yet, there are some evils and disadvantages which need to be frankly considered. Habits of lavish expenditure, lack of repose in social manners, recklessness in business, undue haste to be rich, want of restraint over the young, too great indifference to the solid essentials of character in public and private, a hard materialism; these are traits which Californians, with all their spasmodic, though hearty generosity, exhibit too frequently. This criticism is less applicable to all the larger centers of population, however, than it would have been a few years ago. The growth of the family influence and of the sentiment of attachment to the State, has been quite rapid Society is crystallizing into perfect forms; homes have multiplied; domestic pleasures and moral restraints are generally more powerful than frontier vices, and the most intelligent travelers concede that for pleasantness of home surroundings, and regard for all the ordinary sanctities of law and religion, society in the populous centers of California compares favorably with that at the East, while it has undoubtedly escaped the worst effects of protracted war and financial disturbance. Such asperities as remain here and there will be toned down by the lapse of time, the concentration of a more stable population in the mining districts, the homogeneousness that will come with a larger native infusion; but it is worth while to try and subdue them earlier, and to cultivate even more assiduously than we do the quiet domestic traits that make the beauty and the sweetness of Home.
A difficulty of another kind is found in the uncertain tenure of real estate,