Build dams to catch the tailings – California Diamond Jubilee Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin

Today, the California Diamond Jubilee Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers the Miner’s Convention held in Nevada City beginning at 11 am on July 22, 1882.

In summary, the meeting resulted from the judge’s decision after the farmers took the miners to court over the debris in the waterways.

The Sacramento Daily Record-Union provided the following article summarizing the meeting:


The Miners’ Convention held on Saturday at Nevada City was a thoroughly representative assemblage, and it demonstrated that for all purposes of defense and self protection the quartz, drift and hydraulic miners intend to act together.

The purposes of the Convention were not political, though the resolutions adopted indicate that the association now formed may be utilized politically should it be thought necessary. That this will be one of the consequences of the Convention can scarcely be doubted, since the Anti-Debris Association has already led the way in preparing for a resort to politics.

The main purpose of the miners, however, was to make arrangements for a new departure, on the basis of Judge Temple’s decision. The miners in their resolutions declare their intention to build dams across the Yuba to impound the tailings from all the mines emptying into that river, and they invite the miners emptying upon other rivers to follow their example. They indorse the fairness and impartiality of Judge Temple, and assert their readiness to comply with the conditions laid down by him.

Of course it was to be expected that the resolutions of such a body should attempt to vindicate the interest it represented, and it cannot be regarded as in any way surprising that those who have everything they possess embarked in mining should find it difficult to take a thoroughly disinterested view of the conflict with the valley. The fact that they admit the injury complained of, and that they are taking steps to obey the Court which has passed upon the matter, on the other hand shows that they have no disposition to deepen the ill feeling which exists already by uselessly protracting the struggle.

They expect to spend three hundred thousand dollars in building dams across the Yuba, and since it is very clearly their interest that the work shall be effective, and since they propose to tender the supervision and control of their engineering plans to Colonel Mendell, it is fair to assume that they are in earnest, and that under the new arrangement the dam system will be thoroughly tested.

And it would be well for all the interests concerned if at this stage of the proceeding a truce could be effected. What the farmers demand is that the hydraulic miners shall stop working while the dams are being built.

This, of course, the miners are reluctant to accede to, because they expect to draw the funds with which the new works are to be constructed from the mines, and because stopping working means the stopping of all earnings.

But however inconvenient it may be for the miners to suspend operations, it is obvious that the only grace they can look for is that which is due to the law’s delays. For since Judge Temple’s decision commands the stoppage of the mines pending the construction of the dams, it follows that, unless the decision is reversed by the Supreme Court, it will be possible, in a comparatively short period, to procure its enforcement, or the enforcement of its principles, upon all the mines.

The miners may say that until the Supreme Court has affirmed it they are not bound to accept it as the law governing the situation, and technically that is true. But since they desire to come to an amicable arrangement with the valley people, they ought to be prepared to meet the latter within the strict technicalities, for if they will not make concessions neither can they expect them.

And while the stoppage of the mines in advance of positive individual injunctions will doubtless represent a pecuniary deprivation capable of being estimated, it must be remembered that after all it is only a temporary deprivation, and not a loss.

Whatever gold they could have taken out of the mines while the dams were in process of construction would in such a case still be in the mines. It would be theirs, but they would have to wait for it a little longer.

And the miners must also remember that they have had a long day, and that the Valley people have been very patient and enduring in the past, however impatient they may be now.

Nor must they fail to consider that from the Valley standpoint there remains nothing to be done but to enforce Judge Temple’s decree, and that the less disposition the miners show to conform to that decree the stronger will the disposition be to push things in the Courts.

The legal advisers of the miners will probably tell them that there is not the slightest probability of a reversal of Judge Temple’s decision by the Supreme Court, and there remains for the mining interest, therefore, no recourse but the uncertain delays which can be obtained in the ordinary course of litigation.

But if they depend upon these delays, and hold out against Judge Temple’s decision meanwhile, they cannot expect the Valley to meet them in a friendly spirit. If, in a word, one side insists upon the letter of the bond, the other side will have a right to take the same ground, and then there will be no guarantee for the termination of the quarrel even by the completion of the dams.

The Record-Union has labored faithfully in this matter to bring about such an adjustment as would secure the desired protection to the Valley without inflicting unnecessary injury upon the mining interest.

This journal has urged the farmers to accept a compromise, and has given them reasons for doing so. But it cannot continue to advocate that line of policy unless the miners show themselves willing to meet their opponents half-way, and they can only do that by declaring their readiness to obey Judge Temple’s decision without waiting until they are compelled by the Courts to do so.

By refusing to do this they will subject the Valley to further and unnecessary expense, and will thus increase the bitterness already existing, and make any future agreement extremely difficult.

We do not suppose that any of the miners think it at all doubtful that Judge Temple’s decision will stand. No matter how it may affect their property, it is presumably the law in the case, and sooner or later it will have to be submitted to.

As to the propriety of making this submission prompt, we do not think there can be any serious controversy.

As a matter of policy alone we are of opinion that such a step would be well worth the pecuniary sacrifice involved in it.

Of course the most embarrassing feature is the fate of the many industrious working-miners in the mining counties, but it is probable that even if the mines were all shut down next week it would be possible to give the majority of these men employment on the dams, and thus they would be kept from want until the dams were completed, and until the mines could be opened again.

Now that the miners have taken stops to show that they really intend to obey the law in the building of the dams, however, they would in our judgment do well for their own cause by proceeding one step further, and accepting the full purport of Judge Temple’s decision frankly and without any more hesitation. By doing this we are satisfied that they would greatly facilitate a lasting agreement with the Valley.


The California Diamond Jubilee Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows with an artist’s image of hydraulic gold mining in California, circa 1883.

California Diamond Jubilee Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin