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The hydraulic press. : (North San Juan, Nev. Co., Cal.) 1858-18??
Place of publication:
North San Juan, Nev. Co., Cal.
Geographic coverage:
  • North San Juan, Nevada, California  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Avery & Waters
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Aug. 21, 1858)-
  • English
  • California--North San Juan.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01256011
  • North San Juan (Calif.)--Newspapers.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Publisher: W. Bausman, May 18-<August 17, 1861>.
sn 93051083
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The hydraulic press. August 21, 1858 , Image 1


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Grass Valley telegraph, Nevada national, The Nevada Democrat, The Nevada journal, and The hydraulic press

The California Gold Rush was short lived, but its impact was profound and enduring. Between 1848 and the mid-1850s, hundreds of thousands of people moved into the state in search of easily accessible gold deposits. Most of these "49ers" initially settled in the Sierra Nevada region of California, from Butte County in the north to Mariposa County in the south, establishing both mining camps and new towns in the area. Within a decade, the majority of workable gold deposits were emptied and prospectors were replaced by mechanization and capital. Most of the "Argonauts" moved either out of the region or into nearby growing towns and cities.

California "mining newspapers," as they were called by early chronicler Helen Giffen, sprang up in these newly settled towns as the initial Gold Rush waned. Not only were they some of the earliest papers printed in the state, collectively they chronicled a region as it transitioned from often lawless and violent mining camps to permanent settlements with organized governments and law enforcement. They also recorded the changing nature of mining and, as Giffen notes, "advocated mining and land reforms that were later written into California law."

Located in the northern-central area of the Sierra Nevada Gold Rush region, Nevada County was home to some of the richest and most enduring mines, many of which remained in operation through the mid-twentieth century. Initially, prospectors were lured to county by the ready availability of "placer" gold they found in the numerous riverbeds. By the end of the 1850s, however, "coyote mines"—shafts dug into dry riverbeds to reach bedrock—dotted the countryside, particularly around Grass Valley and Nevada City, which quickly grew from camps to prosperous cities. Nevada County was also one of the first areas to use hydraulic mining, a technique in which high-powered water was used to erode mountainsides and reveal gold deposits. This practice was eventually outlawed in 1884.

The rapid growth of Grass Valley and Nevada City included newspaper publishing. Nevada City had a paper as early as 1851, when Warren B. Ewer started The Nevada Journal. Over the next decade, the publication changed hands countless times; its editors and owners included, in various configurations, W.B. Alban, Nat. P. Brown, Edwin Ruthven Budd, Henry A. De Courcey, H.M. Fuller, Aaron Augustus Sargent, John P. Skelton, and Edwin G. Waite. The Nevada Journal ceased publication in November of 1863. A competing paper, the Young America, first rolled off the presses in September of 1853 and in February of 1854 changed its name to the Nevada Democrat. Until its demise in May of 1863, the Nevada Democrat had four editors: Niles Searls, Henry Shipley, William F. Anderson, and finally Tallman H. Rolfe. Meanwhile, the press in nearby Grass Valley issued several consecutive titles under numerous editors, at least two of whom had relocated from Nevada City. The Grass Valley Telegraph was established in September of 1853 under the editorship of J. Wing Oliver. From October to December of 1856, it was titled the Grass Valley Intelligencer when Budd was editor. Then from January 1857 to July 1858, it was again the Grass Valley Telegraph, with Ewer as editor. On July 31, the paper again changed names, to the Nevada National, and editors, to George D. Roberts. In July of 1860 it was renamed the Grass Valley National. The change of names and editors continued throughout the rest of the century.

North San Juan, just under 30 miles north of both Grass Valley and Nevada City, was the site of prosperous hydraulic mining from the 1850s to the 1880s, after which the town's fortunes faded and along with them its newspaper publishing. The North San Juan Star was purportedly started in November of 1857 and continued until August of 1858, though no copies are known to survive. Under the new editor, Benjamin Parke Avery, the newspaper was renamed The Hydraulic Press and continued in circulation through August of 1861. There were roughly half a dozen other papers published in North San Juan through 1884, most of them lasting only months, until the presses in went silent for good.

Provided by: University of California, Riverside; Riverside, CA