Month: January 2022

Cory’s Historical Corner

By Cory Peterman

Arrastra Stone

The following image comes from the UC Davis Department of Special Collections and dates from 1947. It depicts an object that has probably been seen by most people who have visited the Sierra County courthouse in Downieville or have walked by the building – but what is this large stone “wheel” and what is the history behind it and how did it end up in Downieville?

This large “wheel” is what’s known as an arrastra stone. A plaque, dedicated by E Clampus Vitus, which can be found next to the one-to-six scale model of an arrastra in front of the Downieville museum, states “Arrastras were used to crush and grind gold ore and to grind even more finely the tailings from stamp mills. Some Arrastras consisted of huge wheel-shaped stones which rolled over the ore to crush and grind it.

The Miners’ Own Book, published by Hutchings and Rosenfeld in 1858, described various modes of early California mining. They wrote “One of the first used, as well as one of the most useful and most important, is the Mexican Rastra, which is commonly spelled Arastra. Though rude in its construction and simple in its working, it is one of the most effectual methods of saving the gold which has yet been discovered. The Mexican method of constructing these is to lay a circular track of stone tolerably level, with a low wall around the outside of the track; and in the center a post made of a tree cut off at the required height, and generally just above a crotch or arm; another small tree is then cut in the shape required, for making a horizontal shaft; to this is attached one or more large stones; and these being drawn around by donkey or mule-power, grind the quartz to powder. Of course, as gold is the heaviest it naturally seeks the lowest places, and as quicksilver is always put in with the quartz the gold becomes amalgamated with it.

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Here Back East

By Lenny Ackerman

Fishing With Jay

After our inaugural fishing expedition to Beaver Kill in 1990, Jay and I embarked on a fishing romance spanning 24 years until our trip to Iceland in 2014. I returned to Iceland again in 2017, but that time as a loner. Jay was not fit to travel after a bout of illness and I, suffering from a back injury, plowed through the trip with a distressing inflamed something or other. Leading up to that last trip alone was a wonderful series of travels with Jay and a few other friends, some now gone. Our first real expedition together was deep sea fishing in Gardiner’s Bay off of East Hampton, with Captain Paul Dixon, on the hunt for bluefish and stripers. Eventually, Jay surpassed me in his collecting of flies and gear as he had a number of friends and work colleagues in the dental profession who regularly went to the Catskills to fish on the Delaware. Jay, being a surgeon, was into the technical intricacies of fishing. I was more interested in finding sources for English country fishing attire, and of course I was into the travel.

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By Tessa Jackson

Because it’s NFL playoff time, I’m in full-on NFL mode; but before we get into that, I want to talk about the Novak Djokovic news, even though Djokovic stated that he’s uncomfortable with the focus being on him and would rather it be on the game that he loves. The tennis star, who is unvaccinated, was in Australia hoping to compete for his tenth Australian Open title; he apparently received a medical exemption for the vaccine because he tested positive for the virus last month, but the Australian government revoked his visa (twice), and after 11 days of appeals and court hearings he was eventually deported. According to Australia’s visa rules, he is also now banned from getting a visa for the next three years (this can possibly be waived.) To make matters worse for Djokovic, I read that the French government just passed a law on Sunday which will require vaccinations for anyone entering an arena; so it looks like he might not be able to play in the French Open either. Djokovic is currently tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for most men’s grand slam titles with 20. Nadal is playing in the tournament and has the chance to break that record.

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Sheriff’s Log

By Jen Henneke

Monday, January 3

09:28 – After completing a welfare check at an Antelope Valley Road address west of Loyalton, the Deputy found the individual to be okay, but having cell phone issues.

10:54 – The report of a vehicle stuck in a snow drift between Sierraville and Sattley was transferred to the CHP.

11:19 – The County Road Dept. reported a vehicle parked on Sacred Mount Road in Sierra City was hindering snow removal operations. When the Sheriff’s Office contacted the owner, the owner asked to speak with the Road Dept. Once this was done, the parties were able to come to an agreement.

17:46 – The caller requested assistance with contacting the Road Dept. in Loyalton in attempt to “close roads leading into A24.” The closure of CA-49 and CA-70 to keep people from using A24 seems a bit drastic, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, January 4

00:12 – A welfare check on a person living along Sacred Mound Road in Sierra City was requested.

09:59 – An medical emergency on Mill St. in Loyalton generated a call requesting an ambulance.

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Here Back East

By Lenny Ackerman

Ice Fishing With Katie

Katie was sick with Covid for a month, quarantined with Greg in their cozy family home in Drew Plantation, Maine. After gaining some weight back as well as her appetite for fishing, Katie pronounced that she was about crazy from being cooped up and wanted to ice fish—her favorite sport after fall moose hunting. The stretch of East Grand Lake where Katie and Greg have their summer camp was not yet frozen over. They would go to the Cove on the lake instead—their sweet spot for ice fishing. In a secluded area north, off Route 1 in Danforth, the Cove provides easy access and 5 feet of ice.

The preparation for ice fishing began the day before. Greg assembled the deer blind tent for transport while Katie organized all the essentials: an ice drill, a “Mister Heater” portable unit that runs on propane, as well as rods and bait. Then, the provisions for the long hours out on the ice: a small, metal barrel with a grill attached to serve as a fire pit for hot dogs, plus water and beer. Finally, the attire: heat-lined camo snow jackets, long underwear, flannels, wool sweaters, hats, gloves with hand warmers, wool socks, foot warmers, and rubber boots.

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