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June 8, 1863: Sonora

June 8, 2013

Sonora 06

Downtown Sonora; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr


[Today] we rode to Sonora, returning through Columbia, killing a big rattlesnake on the way. At Sonora I found a tremendous pile of letters, the accumulation since April 1.

Sonora 08

St. James Episcopal Church (1859); by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Sonora, like Columbia, is a mining town, but is a large village, having perhaps three or four thousand inhabitants. It is but three miles from Columbia, and there are several other mining villages very near—all owing to the rich placers of the region. Water for washing this dirt is brought from the Stanislaus River, over and through a very rough country, in a ditch over sixty miles long! And here is a Californian history. A ditch supplied water, but the miners thought the water rates entirely too high, so they would build an opposition ditch. It was estimated to cost $300,000; they built it, but it cost over one and a half millions, or over five times the estimated cost. It was scarcely finished before it was sold at mortgage sale for $150,000, and bought in by the old company, the one that this was to run opposition to, so both fell into the same hands. It was destroyed the winter of 1861-62 by the high water.

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