North Bloomfield School, CA 2019
Replete with stunning geologic features, this area gave rise to the world’s largest hydraulic mining operations, which proved to be more destructive – and more profitable – than any mine ever built before. Once an incredible example of man’s ability to affect the environment, this site is today a State Historic Park that offers clean air and beautiful scenery.
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PROJECT PARTNER: California State Parks, Malakoff-Diggins State Historic Park
SESSION DATES: September 15-20 | September 22-27 | September 29 – October 4 | October 6-11
ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE TIMES: Plan to arrive between 5pm and 7pm on the first day of your project session, and depart after lunch on the last day. Work will generally start around 8am each day, and we’ll wrap up around 4:30pm.
- Please note: The park’s RV/trailer space is relatively small; read more here. Max trailer length: 18 feet; max RV length: 24 feet. The road into the park is also fairly narrow and twisty and may challenge any rigs much longer than 24 feet.
- There is great swimming in the park’s lake – nothing like taking a dip after a good day’s work!
LOCATION: Only 26 miles from Nevada City, CA, drivers will be inspired by the scenery and history held in the hilly roads leading to the park. We are camping inside the park at Chute Hill Campground.
GOOD TO KNOW: No prior experience is required. HistoriCorps will provide all meals, tools, training, and equipment for volunteers on this project. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to and from the lodging site. If a project requires a commute, we will plan to carpool to and from the jobsite. More general information is at the bottom of this page.
HistoriCorps does not charge for its volunteering projects. The majority of project costs are covered by our project partners and grants, but as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, HistoriCorps relies on donations to continue engaging volunteers to save significant historical sites across America for generations to come. Your donation of any amount will make an incredible difference! Increase your impact – make a generous gift today.
Project Site Description & History
HistoriCorps volunteers adventured to North Bloomfield in 2018 to begin restoration work on the town’s signature schoolhouse. When we heard we were invited back to continue our great work in 2019, we couldn’t wait to share the good news with our volunteers! Read below to find out why this state park is particularly special:
“In 1851, three gold prospectors discovered a rich gravel deposit in a nearby stream. In need of supplies, one of the miners was sent to town with instructions not to divulge their location. After imbibing at a local saloon, he boasted of a great find and upon returning from Nevada City, was secretly followed by nearly 100 prospectors. Despite their efforts, they did not find their fortunes and left the area calling the creek a ‘Humbug.’ A few miners stayed and called the new mining camp ‘Humbug City.’
“Other miners came into the area in 1852 and 1853: This second wave of miners employed newly created hydraulic methods and found gold in sufficient quantities to justify settling and expanding the camp into a full-fledged townsite.
“By 1855, Humbug City resembled a small town with its first hotel, the Hotel de France. With over 400 residents, the town became known as North Bloomfield, California in 1857 when the post office was established. Humbug was a name given to “played-out” creeks and mining claims everywhere during the gold rush. The name was so common during this period that the post office required that the name be changed!
“…North Bloomfield experienced its heyday from the late 1860’s to 1884, with nearly 1,500 inhabitants and more than 200 buildings serving as a supply base for the township. These buildings included 5 hotels, 8 saloons, 2 livery stables, 2 dry goods stores, 2 breweries, 3 boot makers, 3 fraternal organizations, a school, a barbershop, a drug store, a butcher, a baker, a dairy, and 2 churches.
“…In 1884, the Sawyer Decision was handed down to curtail the wanton disposal of hydraulic mining debris into waterways. Hydraulic mining continued for many years but at only a fraction of the scale. Companies had invested millions of dollars into the hydraulic gold mining effort in California. These companies slowly folded and the miners and their families moved away to seek work elsewhere. North Bloomfield and the many towns born of hydraulic gold mining in the California gold fields slowly died.” Read more here.
Today, North Bloomfield serves as a site of historic interpretation, drawing those interested in the cultural and economic center it once was. Many buildings from North Bloomfield’s heyday line the streets, and visitors can even see hydraulic mining equipment. Tours are given daily. The community is kept alive by residents of some of the historic homes. Click the “plus” sign below to read more about the destructive force of the hydraulic monitors.
“The destructive forces of the 1850’s Gold Rush reveal a man-made landscape that beckons visitors to adventure.” – Friends of Malakoff Diggins
Hydraulic mining made North Bloomfield one of the most productive mining sites in history. The destruction these water cannons caused inspired the first piece of environmental protection legislation. Photo Credit: Sierra College
Our rustic campsite in Malakoff-Diggins SHP will be a great home to return to at the end of the day!
A Sierra College article shares the following: “The Monitors were powerful to say the least. When the water reached the Monitor it was compressed into a nozzle that was anywhere from one inch to eight inches in diameter. The stream of water that could wash down whole hillsides was impressive to behold. In his multi-volume 1874 – 1890 classic History of California, the historian Hubert Howe Bancroft stated that an eight-inch Monitor could throw 185,000 cubic feet of water in an hour with a velocity of 150 feet per second. Other accounts of the force are less technical but just as startling. One description points out that a strong man could not swing a crowbar through a six-inch Monitor stream, yet another commented on the striking phenomenon of a fifty-pound boulder riding the crest of a jet with the power of a cannonball. Documented evidence recalls that men were killed by the force of the water from 200 feet away.
“The Monitors operated twenty-fours a day with the mines illuminated by high-intensity lighting or locomotive headlights. The amount of water needed was enormous. At the North Bloomfield mine, sixty million gallons of water were used daily. Thomas Bell, the president of the company, estimated in 1876 that the hydraulic mine would consume 16 billion gallons of water in that year alone.
“The debris created was equally enormous. North Bloomfield, a mine about 1 1/8 mile long and 350 – 550 feet deep excavated 41 million cubic yards of material between 1866 and 1884. In 1891, a group of government engineers estimated that hydraulic mining had deposited 210,746,100 cubic yards of debris along the basins of three rivers alone — the Yuba, American, and Bear.” Keep reading here.
AREA TOURISM: Malakoff Diggins State Park is a tourism destination in its own right, with more than 20 miles of trails, gold panning on Saturdays, interpretive tours, and beautiful scenery. Volunteers may enjoy swimming and fishing at a nearby lake.
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park has been recognized by State Parks and the California Department of Conservation’s Division of Mines and Geology as one of California’s GeoGems. To read more about Malakoff’s geological significance, click here. To read more about all of the State Park GeoGems, visit: the State Parks website. (source)
Only 90 minutes from the jobsite is famed Truckee, CA, a gateway community to the summer & winter playground of Lake Tahoe!
Scope of Work
Volunteers will work alongside expert field staff to learn the skills necessary to preserve this historic, not to mention pretty, schoolhouse.
- Realign schoolhouse to plumb using comealongs– 25%
- Reinforce existing interior wall studs by installing additional studs -25%
- Reinstall historic sheathing on interior walls – 20%
- Rehabilitate exterior doors – 10%
If we complete the above scope of work, we will focus on these task items:
- Rehabilitate windows – 10%
- Paint new wood surfaces – 10%
Logistics & More
- Read our Volunteer FAQ! If you still have a question that’s not answered there, above, or below, please email us at email@example.com. We’re always happy to help.
- Once you register you will receive an auto-confirmation in your email inbox. If you do not receive this confirmation, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
- Each project session has one volunteer slot for a Kitchen Helper. If you’re interested in lending our Crew Leader & Camp Chef a hand in meal preparation, choose the “Kitchen Helper” position when you register. Kitchen Helpers are welcome to participate on the preservation work if they like, but are not necessarily expected to.
- Volunteers are responsible for bringing their own tent or other sleeping setup (unless indoor lodging is provided), as well as sleeping gear and other personal gear including sturdy work clothes and work boots. Volunteers are also responsible for their own transportation to and from this project.
- Note: If you have a large RV/trailer, please contact us to confirm that your rig will fit in the available space.
- All volunteers are required to review and agree to the HistoriCorps Waiver & Release and Code of Conduct during the registration process.
- We help you prepare for your preservation project through providing a “pre-arrival packet” via email. The packet contains a lot of information like: logistics, safety precautions, a suggested packing list, benefits for volunteers, and more.
- HistoriCorps projects are multi-day sessions, where you will develop your skills over the course of the session, as well as build camaraderie with your crew and make a significant contribution to the preservation of this building. We can only very occasionally accommodate volunteers who require a shorter session. Please email us at email@example.com for more information.
We are always ready to answer your questions. Once you register, expect us to be in touch a few times before your project begins to confirm attendance, offer advice, and share updates. Thank you always! Really, we can’t do it without you.