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English Dam changed mining’s course

English Dam changed mining’s course English (or Rudyard) Dam was built in 1857 in three sections over the Middle Yuba River to supply water for hydraulic mining. This timber-crib structure shown here was strengthened and raised in 1875, creating a reservoir about 2.5 miles long and 1/2 mile wide, according to historian Doris Foley. The 1883 rupture of English Dam capped many years of conflict between hydraulic miners in the mountains and farmers, ranchers and sea-going merchants in Marysville and Yuba City. It led to the Sawyer Decision of 1884, from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco, which barred hydraulic mines from depositing sediment in waterways. The Sawyer Decision effectively ended hydraulic mining in California. — Trina Kleist
Photo by Carleton E. Watkins, Hearst Mining Collection of Views, 1871-1876/Courtesy UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library |

English Dam changed mining’s course

English (or Rudyard) Dam was built in 1857 in three sections over the Middle Yuba River to supply water for hydraulic mining. This timber-crib structure shown here was strengthened and raised in 1875, creating a reservoir about 2.5 miles long and 1/2 mile wide, according to historian Doris Foley.

The 1883 rupture of English Dam capped many years of conflict between hydraulic miners in the mountains and farmers, ranchers and sea-going merchants in Marysville and Yuba City. It led to the Sawyer Decision of 1884, from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco, which barred hydraulic mines from depositing sediment in waterways. The Sawyer Decision effectively ended hydraulic mining in California.



— Trina Kleist


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