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The Prospects of California

The Illustrated London News, vol.41, no.1155, p.89.

July 19, 1862

The Prospects of California.—The Californians are anticipating the time when they shall be compelled to turn their attention to other pursuits than gold digging. Placer mining in some parts of California has already ceased to be profitable for white men. In 1852 gold diggers earned 10 dollars per day, and in 1862 they are obliged to be contented with 2½ dollars. It is estimated that if the fruitfulness of the gold mines continues to decrease in the same ratio as it has done for the last ten years, in 1872 no white men will be found at work in the gold mines. American writers express an opinion that in a few years California will get rich by carrying timber to China. The latter country, having been densely populated for ages, is bare of timber; and the monster forests of California could furnish that product for centuries to come, and also supply the fleets of steamers which will be required for the Chinese rivers. "The Chinese," says a Californian paper, "are alive to the benefits of river steamers, and to the advantages which shipments on European vessels give in safety and certainty of insurance. Before the pirates made the voyages of the junks almost impossible the Chinese merchant calculated to lose one venture in three. He now avoids the risk by freighting in foreign bottoms. The opening of the rivers will call for the construction of a fleet of light-draught steamers, which California can supply. We have faith that the trade may be ours if efforts be made to secure it; and that as our mills increase and labour diminishes in value we may make steady shipments of lumber to China's great valley, and, if we will, that the return vessels may be loaded with a product which will give employment to Californian looms and spindles. Our northern forests will resound with cheerful industry and our shipyards give forth the productions of ingenious labour. Youthful California and Oregon will spare to aged China the surplus of their forests for the produce of her plains, made bare of wood by the wants of centuries of a dense population."

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