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July 23, 1861: New Idria

July 23, 2011

New Idria 19

New Idria; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Camp 42

golden stars

Bloomeria crocea; by randomtruth, on Flickr

[Today] we rode to the Aurora Mine, which is not good for much, then visited the top of a ridge 4,500 feet high. Here there was a very extensive vein of chromate of iron, the black heavy ore occurring in immense quantities. This was supposed to be silver ore of the richest kind! A company was formed, many tons got out, a furnace built, thousands of dollars expended, and then it was found that there was not a particle of silver in it. But this led to the discovery of the quicksilver mines.

But oh, how hot it was, even at that height! The sand burned our feet through our boots, and a stiff breeze, dry and hot as if from a furnace, played over the ridge. We saw much of geological interest and got back to camp before night.

New Idria 33

New Idria at dusk; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

[Tonight] I returned on foot to a cragged ridge, 1,500 or 2,000 feet above camp, for specimens. It was a toilsome walk, but I was repaid. The sun set while I was there, coloring with orange light the barren mountains north and east and even showing plainly the snowy Sierra in the distance. The view was glorious but desolate as a desert. A few clouds curled over the distant snowy peaks, crimson in the rays of the setting sun. But the shades drew on, the valleys grew darker, and I took my way back. It was cooler, but still hot. I stopped often with my load of specimens. How still it was!—no sound of a bird in the evening twilight, no chirrup of insect, but silence, deathly stillness reigned.

Specimens collected: Eremocarpus setigerus; Mimulus fremontii var. fremontii; Astragalus purshii var. tinctus; Bloomeria crocea; Berberis aquifolium var. dictyota; Salix breweri; Epilobium brachycarpum; Streptanthus breweri.

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