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Virtual Earth map of Yuba River Goldfields, California

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For hundreds of thousands of years, the Yuba River steadily washed sand and gravel out of the granite peaks of the Sierra Nevada and deposited it onto the flat floor of the Sacramento Valley. This gradual process changed abruptly when James Marshall discovered gold in the races of Sutter's Mill in 1948. Miners flooded the area, and the California Gold Rush—and its controversial environmental legacy—began. (from NASA Earth Observatory


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