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Mining Mother Lode Newspapers

Stanislaus National Forest, California, 2001
by Pam Conners, FS Historian

The Mining Mother Lode Newspapers PIT project took place at Columbia State Historic Park from January 30 through February 2, 2001. This project was sponsored by the Stanislaus National Forest in partnership with Columbia State Historic Park; LSA Associates, Inc.; and Columbia College. The intrepid volunteers worked in two teams. One group patiently squinted at microfilm of old newspapers from the Mother Lode for any and all references to resources now managed by the Stanislaus National Forest or Columbia. They then entered the articles into a georeferenced database. The second group waded through boxes—I mean boxes—of historical photographs, digitally scanned them, and entered the information into the georeferenced database. Here is a thumbnail sketch of what the volunteers accomplished:

  • 34 volunteers donated 1,048 hours
  • 3 partners donated 120 hours
  • 162 newspaper articles regarding the history of Columbia and the Stanislaus National Forest were entered into the project database
  • 1,275 historical photographs were entered into the project database
  • 867 historical photographs were scanned and linked to the database

The teams working on the microfilm looked through newspapers spanning the years 1867–1935. Here is a taste of the nuggets they discovered:

One of the most disastrous fires that ever raged in the mountains of Tuolumne County started near Camp Sequoia last Friday and swept over an area three miles in length and from one to two miles in width, completely wiping out Camp Fraser, a logging camp of the Standard Lumber Company.

The three hundred or more sturdy fellows from the Standard camps worked indefatigably and, with the assistance of 150 from the Forest Service and goodly numbers from Strawberry and various other parts, they conquered the fire enemy.
Sonora Banner, September 18, 1914 (H00896)

Because of a scheduled blue-jay hunt in the county, the following proclamation was made by Deputy Fish and Game Commissioner George Grant:

The federal and state laws protect all hawks except the Cooper’s, sharp shinned and duck hawks, the last of which is not found in this district.
Sonora Banner, May 22, 1915 (H00902)

Samples of the discoveries made by the photograph teams are shown below.

The Stanislaus National Forest is working to put the accomplishments of the Mining Mother Lode Archives PIT volunteers on the web. Imagine being able to click on a map of the forest and access obscure historical references and images related to a specific geographic area. A sample of photographs and the database entries has been put on the FS intranet to be tested for bugs prior to putting it on the Stanislaus’s Internet web site. Thanks to PIT volunteers, researchers will soon have a powerful tool at their fingertips.

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