what do you want to know about the Sierra?

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Big Ed
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Post by Big Ed » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:56 pm

I saw it recently on an online map, but was sleepy. I don't remember where it was. It had the route west from Red's Meadow. It's interesting what you came up with looking for a route.








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gdurkee
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Post by gdurkee » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:35 pm

Ah, this just in from Gene Rose, legendary newspaper hack (Frez Bee) and historian:
Dam, man...Fantastic.
For a change I can answer your question.
Yes, the original French Trail ran from Oakhurst (Fresno Flats) and over to the north side of the San Joaquin River, crossed it somewhere around the Granite Stairway and then over Mammoth Pass to the Mammoth mining district.
The early Sierra Reserve rangers used it to get over to the East Side of the reserve. That part is in the autobiography of Ranger Bigelow.
Twenty years ago, as part of the proposed San Joaquin River trail there was a good effort to push the trail above Millerton Lake so that it would tie in with the French Trail.
I even had a little booklet on it at one time.
Will check around....
Update:
Whoops, second thought. Fresno Flat to North Fork to Cascadel, staying high to Mile High. I think the Sierra Forest REserve had cabins at Clover Meadow and Agnew Meadow...along the French Trail.
[/quote]

Hugely interesting. I'll try to map a rough route tomorrow.

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larry553x
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Post by larry553x » Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:56 pm

I pulled out my old Starr's Guide maps, Gene Rose's Sierra Centennial (a wonderful history of the Sierra National Forest),and my copy of Little Joe LeConte's 1904 map of the San Joaquin River watershed to try and confirm the route of the French Trail discussed above by George and Gene. The map with the 1970 Starr's Guide clearly labels the French Trail up above the canyon of the Middle Fork San Joaquin (partially occupied by Mammoth Pool Reservoir) up to Clover and Soldier Meadows. Interestingly, the map with my 1953 edition of Starr's Guide does not show the trail (and of course, Mammoth Pool is missing as it had yet to be constructed). The 1970 Starr's Guide includes text describing the Mammoth Trail that runs from Soldier Meadow to Sheep Crossing on the North Fork San Joaquin, up the Granite Stairway to Summit Meadow, and then on to King Creek and Devils Postpile. Gene's book notes the "1870s French Trail that ran up the canyon" of the Middle Fork San Joaquin, and later references the recommendation of Charles Shinn, the chief ranger of the Sierra Forest Reserve in the early 1900s, that "the old French Trail and the Mammoth Route should also be restored."

Finally, Joe LeConte's map shows a trail running northeast from North Fork to Brown's Meadow on Chiquito Creek, across Jackass Creek to Graveyard Meadow west of Squaw Dome, then across Granite Creek to Little Jackass Meadow, across the North Fork San Joaquin at Sheep Crossing, then east to Cargyle Meadow and up the Granite Stairway, across King Creek to Reds Meadow, and then across Mammoth Pass to the Mammoth Lakes mining district. I think we can safely assume that LeConte's 1904 map indicates the route of the original French Trail that later became known as the Mammoth Trail. Lots of great history in that Middle Fork and North Fork San Joaquin country.

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Big Ed
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Post by Big Ed » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:34 am

You guys turned up a lot. All it took was a trail name, huh? I'll make an effort to connect the dots reported above with a map tomorrow.

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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Post by Tom_H » Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:16 pm

For the last several years I have been looking for a DVD/Blu-ray copy of a documentary I saw on TV about 10 years ago. This was probably on TLC, Discovery Channel, or something similar.

The film dealt with two things, the formation of the Sierra, and the Gold Rush, then interwove the two. There were graphic simulations of the way the existing subterranean granite was fault-block compressed when the Pacific Plate was overridden by the North American Plate as the latter was migrating westward. It was explained that the temperature was not hot enough for the Feldspar and most minerals in the granite to melt. In that case, the intrusive igneous granite would have undergone metamorphosis. It was hot enough, however, for quartz to migrate through the other minerals and form the large veins of quartz, some of which were several feet thick. It was also hot enough for individual molecules of gold to melt and migrate into the veins of quartz and then also to consolidate into pockets of gold which later eroded out of the granite as nuggets.

The film went on to illustrate aging and erosion which caused placer gold to be deposited in the bottoms of streams and rivers. Following that, it was explained how some canyons were later dug much deeper by erosion, but at the same time leaving ribbons of placer gold in their previous location. That location now had changed from the bottom of a stream to strips high up on canyon walls after the canyon had dug deeper.

The film then went on to explain how all this was related to all the differing methods of mining during the gold rush. Gold at the bottom of streams was removed by placer methods: pans, cradle/rockers, sluice boxes, long toms, etc. Gold still underground in quartz veins was removed by hard rock mining methods and huge chunks of quartz ore were crushed in steam driven stamp mills, arastres, Chile mills, even crude sapling mills. Those old stream beds of placer gold now up on canyon hillsides were blasted away with hydraulic monitors (water cannons), leaving places like the Malakoff Diggins.

This film did by far the best job integrating geology and California History of any documentary I have ever seen. CA fourth grade students study both of those things and I searched for years and just never identified the name or producer of this film. If anyone knows the one I'm talking about, I surely would love to find it.

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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Post by Dave_Ayers » Wed Jan 31, 2018 6:04 pm

Tom_H, I think one possibility is "How the Earth was Made", a series that ran on the History Channel circa 2009. I'm thinking possibly the Gold Rush or Yosemite episodes from season 2.
http://www.infocobuild.com/books-and-fi ... e-one.html
http://www.infocobuild.com/books-and-fi ... n-two.html
Last edited by Dave_Ayers on Wed Jan 31, 2018 6:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Dave_Ayers
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Post by Dave_Ayers » Wed Jan 31, 2018 6:08 pm

Regarding the French Trail, the Central Sierra Historical Society and Museum has some books with history of that area some folks may be interested in including several books on the building the various reservoirs, logging, etc. I've gotten a couple of things from them before. http://www.sierrahistorical.org/shop/

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Tom_H
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Post by Tom_H » Wed Jan 31, 2018 8:18 pm

Dave_Ayers wrote:Tom_H, I think one possibility is "How the Earth was Made", a series that ran on the History Channel circa 2009. I'm thinking possibly the Gold Rush or Yosemite episodes from season 2.
http://www.infocobuild.com/books-and-fi ... e-one.html
http://www.infocobuild.com/books-and-fi ... n-two.html
BINGO!!!!! Dave, it is Season II Episode 13. I cannot thank you enough. Though I have now retired, I can share this with my former colleagues. They will love it. I seem to have gotten a few of the details mixed up with another video regarding the formation of quartz bands inside granite, but the gold producing quartz here involves limestone.

Anyway, thanks again many times!!
Tom

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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Post by bobby49 » Tue Feb 06, 2018 2:40 pm

I've never heard of the French Trail, but I think that I dayhiked it. We started from Horseshoe Lake, passed Reds Meadow, went over the Granite Stairway, Sheep Crossing, etc., and ended at a campground near Clover Meadow.

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