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California Mineral Resources & Introduction
to the Sacramento Valley and Foothills Area
of California (circa 1915)

Excerpts from

Sacramento Valley and Foothill Counties of California:
An Illustrated Description of all the Counties Embraced in this
Richly productive Geographical Subdivision of the Golden State

Compiled and edited by Emmett Phillips and John H. Miller,
Published under the direction of The Sacramento Valley Exposition,
J. A. Filcher, Director-in Chief, January, 1915.

Front  Cover to Sacramento Valley and Foothill Counties Book Back Cover to Sacramento Valley and Foothill Counties Book

Front and Back Covers

Click here if you wish to jump directly to the section on the Mineral Production of this area.

Please Note: Excerpts from the sections on the individual counties will not be presented here. Click on the links in the following sentence to jump to the county sections on the individual counties discussed in this book. The counties included in this area are: Amador County, El Dorado County, Glenn County, Nevada County, Sacramento County, Trinity County, and Yolo County.)

The Sacramento Valley and Foothills of California

"California contains one vast valley lying between the Sierra Nevada mountains on the east and the Coast Range mountains on the west. It is the upper end of this extensive fertile section of the State that is designated the Sacramento Valley. It lies directly north and east of the Sierra Nevada and Coast Range mountains in Shasta County not far from the northern boundary line of the State.

"The Sacramento Valley is drained by the Sacramento River, which is the largest stream in the State and fourth in tonnage importance in the United States. It is navigable from San Francisco bay to the city of Red Bluff, in Tehama County, a distance of 200 miles.

"The largest city of the Sacramento Valley is Sacramento, capital of the State. It has a population of 75,000 (circa 1915) and is a thoroughly modern and rapidly expanding municipality.

"Everything that has distinguished California throughout the world is produced in that geographical subdivision of the Golden State known as the Sacramento Valley and adjacent foothill regions. It is a conservative statement to say that there is no like area anywhere that is so intense in productive capacity or so rich in the variety of quality of products yielded as this great agricultural and mineral empire.

"On the floor of the Valley the lands are free from brush or stone and are ever ready for cultivation. There is no considerable growth of timber on the lowlands except willow and cottonwood. But in all counties of this Valley may be found scattered groves of wide spreading oaks, giving a parklike aspect to the landscape, and at the same time presenting mute testimony to the genuine richness of the soil.

"That this land was a land of unusual attractiveness because of a wonderfully equable climate and great soil productivity, was evidenced at an early day by the location in this Valley of great ranches, and in our day, of a Plant Introduction Garden by the United States Government and of an extensive University Farm for the practical use of the California State Agricultural College.

"The plain or floor area of the Sacramento Valley is about 3,000,000 acres. The total area of the Valley including the adjacent foothills is 12,000,000 acres. The Valley, including the lower foothill reaches, is 200 miles long and 50 miles wide. The population reported in the official federal census of 1910 was 225,910. Thus it will readily be seen that this vast productive area is not likely, on account of congestion, to be lacking in opportunity for some time for men and women who desire to prosper in rural occupations where a glorious measure of success can be attained with less expenditure of energy than in any other place on earth.

"There are many flourishing cities and towns in the Sacramento Valley with churches of all denominations, elementary and advanced public schools, steam and electric railroad transportation, electric lighting and power, water transportation, and all things essential for the prosperity and comfort of the human family.

"The following paragraphs contain much information in detail on the Sacramento Valley that cannot fail to prove interesting to hundreds of thousands of industrious men and women who know little of the unlimited opportunities afford them for the achievement of health, happiness and prosperity in this wonderland in the heart of California. The reader will find in the following pages of this booklet a condensed but accurate description of each county of the Sacramento Valley and foothills region, together with a brief and uncolored statement of its resources.

"Every county of the Sacramento Valley is easily accessible by railway connection with all cities in the State and it would be a journey replete with pleasure and instruction to visit this fertile Valley where deciduous fruit gardens blossom in the foothills and on the river banks, where orange blossoms perfume the breezes of Summer, where gold is taken from the hidden recesses of the eternal hills, where happiness and prosperity are the distinguishing features of every home, and where the warm hand of fellowship and hospitality is ever extended to the stranger.

Climate the Chief Factor

Climate in California is a magic word because it means so much for the prosperity, happiness and comfort of the people. It is probably the most precious asset in the Golden State because it is the chief factor that has to do with making California the most wonderful producing State on the American continent.

"Climatic conditions in the Sacramento Valley are ideal. The average rainfall is about 26 inches (circa 1915). This rainfall is distributed through four months of the year and is always ample to assure abundant cereal crops. In the Summer of 'dry season,' as it is called, the temperature is never oppressive because of the low percentage of humidity in the atmosphere. Work in the fields is never suspended because of high temperature nor is there ever danger of sunstroke. In the Sacramento Valley the evenings are invariably cool and the nights balmy and delightful. There is no such thing as perspiring through the night and awakening in the morning thoroughly enervated and exhausted. Each afternoon during the Summer season, the Pacific trade winds blow landward from the Pacific Ocean and towards evening they lower the atmospheric temperature of the Sacramento Valley, which is situated about fifty miles inland from the ocean shore.

"The coast trend of the State being northwest and southeast, presents a right angle front to the Japan Current, that ever comes up from the southwest to lave its shores. It is this warm current that gives California its temperature and equable climate.

"Latitude has no bearing whatsoever upon climate in California, although topography and altitudes affect the temperature to some degree in different latitudes.

"It is a tremendous advantage that the California farmer has in climate where growth and production go on without pause. In the Sacramento Valley the grower finds his vines and trees, field and truck garden producing something for the market every month in the year. Climate also has a decided effect upon the cost of living. Where the pastures yield natural forage, green or dry, every day, where the water never freezes, where the vegetable growth goes on forever, and the storage of vegetables for Winter use is never necessary because they are growing and fresh daily, it is clearly apparent that the cost of living must be less than where the Summer and Fall are spent in hard labor to store food and fuel against the long Winter that suspends production.

Market Value of Land (circa 1915)

"Prices of land in the Sacramento Valley and contiguous counties very greatly. They range from $30 an acre to $300 for unimproved land. The wide variation in price is due to the difference in the kind of land and the location. The cheap lands are mostly unirrigated rolling uplands. In many localities these lands have to be cleared before they can be planted and this increases the cost. Irrigated lands can be purchased for $150 to $300 per acre. The prices of river bottom land range from $175 to $300 per acre.

"The prices of improved lands vary according to location, the value of the improvements, transportation facilities, etc. Well kept paying orchards, however, are often valued at as high as $1,200 an acre. Frequently good opportunities are offered to purchase improved places for very reasonable figures.

"As there is such a wide difference in soil types, and as location has much to do with land values, it is advised that all prospective purchasers visit and inspect personally any land that they contemplate purchasing before making their initial deposit.

Prospective Settlers and Cost of Living (circa 1915)

"Frequently prospective settlers of the Sacramento valley and surrounding territory ask the question, 'How much money must I have before coming to the Valley?' This, of course, is a very difficult question to answer, as the personal element enters into each case. Many men have come here with very little and have made wonderful successes. They had pluck and energy and were not discouraged at the first obstacles that they had to overcome. Generally speaking, however, a man with a family should have about $3,000 in cash before coming west. This will enable him to make a substantial payment on his land and still have enough money left to tide him over the first year, which is always the hardest.

"In the preceding chapter upon climate, it was stated that the cost of living is less in California than in States where the climatic conditions are more severe. Some commodities, however, and especially manufactured articles, are slightly high in the Sacramento Valley than in Eastern localities. The freight charge from the point of manufacture to California is added to the Eastern selling price.

"The cost of building in the Sacramento Valley and foothill region is slightly higher than in Eastern States. This is due primarily to the fact that wages paid skilled mechanics are higher here than east of the Rocky Mountain States. But in building homes, it is not necessary to make them as substantial in California as in the East, because of the difference in climate. Double floors, windows and door are not necessary.

Ordinary farm laborers in California are paid $35.00 per month and board and from $2.00 to $2.50 a day when employed by the day. Skilled mechanics are paid from $4 to $6 per eight-hour day.

"Fuel is not a heavy item in the Sacramento Valley. Crude oil is in general use for many purposes. Its cost averages about a dollar a barrel. Oak stoves wood costs from $6 to $8 a cord. Gas is used to a great extent for fuel in cities and towns. The average cost is about $1.00 per 1,000 feet. The price of electricity for power and lights ranges from 4 to 7 cents per killowatt (sic) hour, according to the amount used.

Electric Energy in Sacramento Valley (circa 1915)

"During the past few years electricity has been an important factor in everyday life. In the Sacramento Valley and surrounding territory, it is as much in use as in the large cities. There are many uses to which this power is put on the farm, such as running irrigation pumps, lighting purposes, turning the churn, etc. Power is very cheap in the Sacramento Valley and hence it is used extensively.

"The swift streams fed by perpetual snows, which course down the steep sides of the Sierra Nevada mountains, furnish unsurpassed opportunities for the development of power. These opportunities have been taken advantage of largely by investors and to-day there are several very large companies supplying electric energy to the farmers as well as to the city dwells in different parts of the Sacramento Valley. The possibilities of power development in this part of California have only been touched and this magic force which lights cities, moves trains and turns the wheels of industry will become cheaper to the farmer as its use becomes more general.

Modern Improved Highways (circa 1915)

"That good roads increase the profits of farm products by lessening the cost of transportation is a declaration of a recent bulletin published by the United States Department of Agriculture. It is a well known fact that California is one of the leading States in the nation in the construction of good roads, and the counties of the Sacramento Valley and surrounding mountain districts are not behind the rest of the rest of the State in this respect. Several years ago the people of California voted $18,000,000 for good roads and a great percentage of the mileage of this great State road system is now completed. Two main trunk lines of the highway pass through the Sacramento Valley - one on the west side and one on the east side. These roads meet at Red Bluff, in Tehama County, and the road then continues through Tehama, Shasta and Siskiyou Counties to the Oregon line.

Another link of the State highway leads form Sacramento through El Dorado County across the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Lake Tahoe. This is one of the noted scenic roads of California and is the route most frequently selected by tourists entering California by automobile. The Emigrant Gap road is also a scenic highway that leads from Sacramento to the northern end of Lake Tahoe through Placer County.

"In addition to the State road system, many of the counties have spent large sums of money improving the lateral roads. Road building has reached a high standard here and the abundance of rock, gravel, cement, sand and petroleum used in highway construction found within the borders of the State make it possible to build the best roads for the minimum cost.

"California has more automobiles per capita than any other State in the Union and is second only to New York in the number of automobiles in use, and hence the people are fully awake to the benefits of good roads. The movement now underway will result in providing in California the finest highway system in the world.

Excellent Transportation Facilities ( circa 1915)

"One of the important factors to the prosperity of any community is the matter of adequate transportation. In this respect the Sacramento Valley is indeed fortunate. The Valley is served by rail and water transportation facilities which provide ample outlets for the millions of tons of foodstuffs that the rich Valley soil produces annually. First, let us consider the rail transportation. The Valley is traversed east and west by one and north and south by two main lines of the Southern Pacific Company. The east and west line is the western link on the great transcontinental line of this company and leads directly to the great markets of the Eastern States. Of the north and south main lines, one serves the east and the other the west side of the Sacramento valley. they meet at Sacramento on the south and Tehama on the north. They lead directly to the large cities of the Northwest, which are large consumers of Sacramento Valley products. All of these lines lead to San Francisco and other main lines of the same company lead direct to Los Angeles. In addition to the main lines, the company has many branch roads which serve as feeders and reach out to fertile valley and rich foothill sections which are off the main route.

"The Western Pacific, also a transcontinental road, crosses the Valley, passing through the counties of Plumas, Butte, Yuba, Sutter and Sacramento.

"The Valley is also served with several electric lines, which converge at Sacramento. These are the Northern Electric, running from Sacramento Chico, the Sacramento and Woodland, running between the two cities named in the road title, the Central California Traction, running between Sacramento and Stockton, and the Oakland and Antioch, between Sacramento and San Francisco. There are also several roads in course of construction, among which are the Sacramento Valley Electric which will traverse the counties of the west side of the Valley, and the Vallejo and Northern, which will serve a very rich fruit section and connect Sacramento and Vallejo, the largest city in Solano County.

"Water transportation is an important factor to the producers of the Sacramento Valley, and the Sacramento River, which is navigable as far as Red Bluff, 200 miles from its mouth, not only provides means of transporting many crops to market, but acts as a rate regulator. Freighting on the Sacramento River is of vast importance and the stream ranks fourth among the rivers of the United States in amount of tonnage floated on it. During certain seasons of the year when the river carries a large volume of water, it is navigable to light drafts ocean going vessels as far as Sacramento. Much work is being done by State and Government on improvements on the Sacramento River. Passenger traffic on the river between Sacramento and San Francisco is important, several companies operating lines of fast steamers and advertising the voyage as one of the sightseeing trips of California."

(Please note, the following sections will not be presented here: "Schools and Education Progress," "Denizens of Forest and Stream, Wide Variety of Products," "Culture of Citrus Fruits," "Alfalfa and Dairying," "Livestock Industry," "Hogs Always in Demand," "Vegetable Production," "Hops Produce Heavily," "Success in Poultry Raising," "Wheat, Barley and Other Grains," "Culture of Berries and Nuts," "Rice - a New Cereal Crop," "Irrigation," "Advice to New Comers," "Opportunities for Settlers," and "Cost of Production and Profits." Feel free to contact me if you would like me to send you a copy of any of the sections listed above. Peggy B. Perazzo.)

Towing produce on Sacramento River to market. Towing produce on Sacramento River to market.
Dressing granite for buildings in Sacramento Valley. Dressing granite for buildings in Sacramento Valley.

Mineral Production (in the Sacramento Valley and foothill counties circa 1915)

"Since the days of '49 mining always has been and it always will be one of the leading industries of the Sacramento Valley and foothill counties. Practically every county of which a sketch appears in this book, produces mineral wealth of some kind. The production of gold is, of course, the most valuable of all mineral outputs of this part of California, and it is the gold produced by these northern counties that keeps California in the lead among the gold producing States of the Union.

"Quartz mining after the most improved methods is followed in the mountain counties, while dredging mining along several of the rivers - notably, the American, the Feather and the Yuba - is annually producing millions of dollars in fine gold.

"The gold production in California in 1913, according to a report of the United States Geographical Survey, was valued at $20,406,958. This was an increase of $693,480 over the output of 1912 which was $19,713,478. Of the gold production of the State 55 per cent is derived from deep mines and 45 per cent from placers.

"While the output of gold is of greater value than that of any other metal in California, mining for copper is an important industry in Shasta County, where enormous deposits of copper ore have been found. Plumas is also opening up promising copper deposits. Iron ore in large quantities has also been found in different localities and an electric process smelter for reducing the iron ore has been in operation for several years at Heroult, Shasta County.

"The manufacture of cement is another important mineral industry in the Sacramento Valley. California ranks third among all the States in America in value of the cement output. One of the largest plants in the State for the manufacture of this necessary building product is located in Solano County.

"Among other minerals produced in this rich mining region may be mentioned: asbestos, potter's clay, macadam, limestone, slate, chrome, building stone and tremendous granite deposits.

"The total value of all mineral products of California in 1913 was $100,791,369."

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