Trask’s 1854 Geological Report

Including List and Descriptions of Gold Mines in California

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553. TRASK, John B[oardman]. Document No. 9. In the Assembly. Session 1854. Report on the Geology of the Coast Mountains, and Part of the Sierra Nevada: Embracing Their Industrial Resources in Agriculture and Mining, by Dr. John B. Trask. [Sacramento]: B.B. Redding, State Printer, 1854. [1-7] 8-95 [1, blank] pp. 8vo (22.8 x 15.2 cm), recent half tan cloth over marbled boards with tan morocco spine label lettered and ruled in dark brown. One blank leaf at end browned, otherwise fine.

     First edition. Cowan I, p. 278: “[Trask’s] reports on the geology of California are important contributions in this field.” Not in Cowan II. Greenwood, California Imprints 1833-1862 #526: “Examination of the resources of Placer, Nevada, El Dorado, and Calaveras counties, with description of the country, mines, etc.” Norris 3950. Vogdes, A Bibliography Relating to the Geology, Palæontology, and Mineral Resources of California, p. 2:

This report contains a description of the geology of the Monte Diablo Range, Salinas Valley, from Point Pinos to the Nacimiento River, Santa Cruz Mountains; structure of the valleys of Sacramento and San Joaquin; review of the geological changes in the coast mountains and Monte Diablo range; position and relation of the volcanic rocks to the Tertiaries; volcanic rocks preceding the Tertiary era; most recent volcanic rocks of the coast mountains; changes of level and river terraces; soils of the Santa Clara and shores of the Bay of San Francisco; valley of the Salinas; soils of the Salinas; Pajaro Valley; Livermore Valley; mineral resources of the coast mountains; mineral districts, embracing parts of the counties of Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, and Calaveras; quartz veins, and their relative age in California; character and position of the older veins below the surface; present government of metallic veins; descriptions of mines, with list of gold mines.

     Trask states that his expedition required about six months in the field. The descriptions of gold mines in California (pp. 83-89) include La Fayette and Helvetia, Gold Hill, Osborn Hill (this and preceding two mines in or near Grass Valley, Nevada County); Wyoming, Gold Tunnell, Illinois (this and preceding two mines on Deer Creek near the town of Nevada); Jones & Davis, Spring Hill, Amadore Company, Ranchoree, Keystone, Eureka (this and previous five mines in Calaveras County). The descriptions are followed by a table (p. 90) of thirty-nine mines, twenty-eight of which Trask personally visited.

     Hart, Companion to California, p. 451: “Trask (1824-1879), Massachusetts-born doctor, moved to California (1850) and soon joined the Mexican Boundary Survey. He then became the first State Geologist of California and published reports on the State’s geology and topographical maps (1853-1855). He was a founder of the California Academy of Sciences.” Trask published pioneering studies of California earthquakes and created rare and important maps (see, for example, Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 796 & Vol. III, pp. 159-160: “Trask was an interesting character, a man of great erudition, and the maps he drew are valuable contributions of the development of the West”). See also Kurutz’s entry 636 in his bibliography, The California Gold Rush. For more on Trask, see Alan E. Leviton et al., “Geology at the California Academy of Sciences, 1853-1907” in Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, Series 4, Volume 61, No. 11 (September 15, 2010), pp. 547-573. The mineral Traskite was named in his honor.


Sold. Hammer: $150.00; Price Realized: $183.75.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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