Blue Ridge Flume Complex
Redding Field Office (BLM), California, 2010
By Eric Ritter, Ph.D., Archaeologist
The Redding Office of the Bureau of Land Management completed its third successful Passport in Time project in defining the route of the 1870s northern California Blue Ridge Flume as it passes through the Bend Area of Critical Environmental Concern. This project, under the direction of BLM Archaeologist Dr. Eric Ritter, focused on identifying artifact and feature remnants of the route and other historical associations. The 42 mile lon V-flume was built during the height of the Industrial Revolution and Westward Expansion bringing hard to reach lumber from mills in the mountains of Tehama and Shasta counties to transportation centers such as Red Bluff for further shipment around the globe. The week-long project involved 20 enthusiastic volunteers braving heat, poison oak, access through raft via the Sacramento River and the threat of that locally common venomous snake the bell worm or rattlesnake. Metal detectors were central to identifying flume remnants, sometimes nothing more than a trail of common cut nails. Interpretive signs were also place periodically along the route studied. The flume traces are being mapped using Geographic Information System technology. All told nearly three miles of flume were precisely traced, sometimes belying intuitive predictions.