Among the more striking US state flags is that of California. It features not a simple grizzly bear, as some assume, but a California golden bear, a subspecies of the brown bear that once inhabited most of the Golden State.
The California golden bear, or California grizzly (Ursus arctos californicus), disappeared in the early 20th century, a victim of development, relentless hunting and its own fearlessness.
The bear, which could grow to more than 8 feet tall and weigh more than 2,000 pounds, thrived in California’s great valleys and low mountains, and there were probably more bears in California prior to European settlement than anywhere else in what would become the United States.
Indeed, California golden bears were strikingly abundant prior to European settlement.
When Gaspar de Portolà’s Spanish expedition passed through an area near today’s Morro Bay, Calif., in 1769, a Franciscan missionary noted in his diary that the expedition saw “troops of bears (osos)” in the valley, which became known as the La Canada de los osos, or Los Osos Valley (the valley of the bears).
A few years later the inhabitants of Mission Carmel in today’s Carmel, Calif., were near starvation, so a hunting expedition was dispatched to the Los Osos Valley. Many bears were killed and several thousand pounds of bear meat was brought back, saving the people of the mission.
A Canadian mining company believes there are more than 3 million ounces of gold at a historic mine it’s working to revive near Kershaw.
If Romarco Minerals’ estimates about the amount of gold still in the Haile Gold Mine, it would be worth more than $5 billion at current gold prices.
Toronto-based Romarco reopened the Haile Mine, originally established in 1837, earlier this year and expects to pour its first gold bar there in early 2014, Chief Executive Diane Garrett told Reuters this week.
Once environmental impact studies and permits are complete, Haile will be the only modern gold mine east of the Mississippi River, Garrett said, and the first since the Kennecott Minerals mine closed in nearby Ridgeway, in 1999.
Based on the proven gold reserves found in samples, the Toronto company estimates it has 3.1 million ounces of gold at Haile. The mine will produce an average of 150,000 ounces of gold a year for five years, according to its website, the wire service reported.
One hundred years ago today, the last known “wild” American Indian stumbled out of the Sierra foothills into the corral of a slaughterhouse near Oroville, Calif., starving, sickly and alone.
Ishi had seen his tribe, called the Yani, killed off by disease and white settlers, many of whom came to California to take part in the gold rush.
Prior to the discovery of gold in the Sierras in 1848, it’s estimated Ishi’s tribe, called the Yahi, numbered about 400. The Yahi were part of a larger group called the Yaha, which had numbered about 3,000 and had lived in the western foothills of Mount Lassen for several thousand years, according to the book “Ishi: Last of His Tribe.”
With the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, a little more than an hour south of where Ishi eventually gave himself up, thousands of prospectors and settlers inundated northern California. In addition to attacking native Americans, miners often damaged the environment the Indians lived off while prospecting. Sometimes, the Indians attacked whites, as well.