Whitney, Josiah Dwight; The Auriferous Gravels of the Sierra Nevada of California (Contributions to American Geology Vol. 1). Harvard University Press, John Wilson and Son. Cambridge, Mass., John Wilson and Son, 1880. First Edition. Large quarto, pp. xvi, 569, 24 plates and map pocket with three folding sheets. (Map in two sheets of the Tertiary Auriferous Gravel Deposits, and a map in one sheet showing the extent of the hydraulic mining operations. A geological survey of the Auriferous Gravels gold mine in Nevada County, CA.)
The work is complete and in the original green binder’s cloth with gilt titles. The binding is tight, inner hinges nicely restored, restoration to scuff areas on outer edges of boards. X-lib. Franklin Institute. Chipping to outer edge of end sheets, text, plates and maps very clean. In very good condition.
The two volumes which make up Whitney’s “Contributions to American Geology” contain results of surveys completed while Whitney was head of the California Geological Survey. In 1867, the survey was eliminated from the budget, and work was suspended in 1868. Whitney was to fund further publication of reports with his own funds. Thus the two reports were published through the Harvard University Press.
In Volume 1, Whitney describes the geology, ore and placer deposits, mining practices and fossils of some of the prominent gold regions of California. The volume begins with an overview of the geology of the Sierra Nevada, and then presents detailed descriptions of gold-bearing gravel deposits and hydraulic mining operations in the major areas within Placer, El Dorado, Yuba, Sierra, Butte, Nevada, Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne Counties; including Grass Valley, Nevada City, Smartsville, the Yuba River region, etc.the Yuba River region; and elsewhere.
Some fossil plants and animals are then described, including the infamous "Calaveras skull”. The skull was thought to be a Pliocene human fossil but has since been determined to be of much more recent origin. Three appendices provide further details on the origin of the gold deposits, occurrences, mines, etc. This volume is illustrated by excellent plates and maps, including 3 heliotype photos by Carleton Watkins.