The political economy of California industrialization -- The alchemy of hydraulic mining : technology, law, and resource-intensive industrialization -- Banking on Sacramento : urban development, flood control, and political legitimization -- Capitalizing on nature : innovation and production in the redwood forests -- Gambling on the grassland : kinship, capital, and ecology in Southern California -- The enclosure of the plateau : land and labor in the high lake country -- Epilogue : economic development and the California environment. An environmental History of California during the Gold Rush. Between 1849 and 1874 almost $1 billion in gold was mined in California. With little available capital or labor, here's how: high-pressure water cannons washed hillsides into sluices that used mercury to trap gold but let the soil wash away; eventually more than three times the amount of earth moved to make way for the Panama Canal entered California's rivers, leaving behind twenty tons of mercury every mile--rivers overflowed their banks and valleys were flooded, the land poisoned. In the rush to wealth, the same chain of foreseeable consequences reduced California's forests and grasslands. --Publisher.