[Illustration: Automobiling along the Truckee River]
[Illustration: On the Automobile Boulevard Around Lake Tahoe]
[Illustration: Atlantic to Pacific Automobile Party, Premier Tour, 1911, Stopping at Tahoe Tavern]
[Illustration: Copyright 1910, by Harold A. Parker. Cascade Lake and Mt. Tallac]
Thus in storm and stress was this road born, and in the winter time of our day it is still a road of storm and stress, as are all of the roads over the High Sierras. It must be remembered that while the elevation at Sacramento is but thirty feet above sea level, at Summit it is 7018 feet, and even at Truckee, where the turn is made for Tahoe, it is 5819 feet. Naturally such high altitudes receive considerable snow, which render the roads impassable during the winter season. In 1914 I went from Truckee to the Summit on the 10th of June, and save for two or three patches of snow which were rapidly melting, there were no serious obstacles that any good motor could not overcome.
From Sacramento the grade is easy and the country fairly open until Auburn is reached (35-1/2 miles.) The roads are excellent, the disintegrated granite affording local material close at hand for perfect road building. The Sierras stretch away to the east in gently ascending billows, covered over with richest verdure of native trees of every variety, and of the thousands of orchard trees that are making this region as famous for its fruits as it used to be for its mines. For from 1849 until the hydraulic mines were closed down by the anti-debris decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, this section and beyond was one of the richest gold mining regions of California, and historically, one of the greatest importance to the State. Such places as Auburn, Illinoistown (Colfax), Gold Run and Dutch Flat, were rich producing camps and branch roads reached to Yankee Jim, Todd’s Valley, Forest Hill, Michigan Bluffs, Bath, and other towns on what is known as the Forest Hill Divide, a divide being a local term, to signify the rocky, mountainous mass,—nearly always having a level grade on its summit,—that separates two forks of the same stream, or two different streams. From Colfax another road led to Grass Valley, Nevada City, and North Bloomfield in Nevada County, and Iowa Hill, Wisconsin Hill, Monona Flat, and Damascus on the Iowa Hill Divide. All these were centers of rich mining districts which were scenes of the greatest activity in the days of their productivity. Now, however, most of them are abandoned, except Auburn, Colfax, and Nevada City which have other resources, and Grass Valley, which maintains its high standing owing to its rich quartz mines. Forest Hill, Iowa Hill, and Michigan Bluff have drift mines which maintain small and meager populations compared with those of the early and prosperous days. In the ’fifties Yankee Jim and its tributary mines had a population of 3000, while to-day it is entirely deserted. Todd’s Valley, which was also a flourishing camp has suffered the same fate.