June 29, 2018

A visitors reaction to the Yuba River in 1851

The Yuba River

The Yuba River is a tributary of the Feather River in the Sierra Nevada and eastern Sacramento Valley, in the U.S. state of California.

Yuba River

As the whole world seems to descend on the Yuba River at this time of year, I thought it worthwhile to share the feelings of a Mrs Dorothy Bates.

She and her husband arrived in 1850 at San Fransisco from Baltimore via Cape Horn, which is no small feat. Mrs Bates kept a diary later published as ‘Incidents on Land and Water’. They took a steamer up the Feather River to Marysville and then in 1851 she and her husband Capt. William Henry Bates, took a one horse cart to French Corral, passing Bridgeport.

This is her account:

“Finally we came to a little mountain town called Bridgeport. It consisted of three little shanties and a toll-bridge, which spanned the Yuba River. The setting sun was just gilding the tops of the surrounding mountains, as we halted in front of one of the dwellings to inquire the distance to French Corral. They informed us it was about five miles. They told us there was a pretty high mountain just beyond, and advised us to discontinue our journey for that night. They seemed so particularly solicitous for us to remain all night, their shanty was so filthy dirty, and they themselves were such savage, hirsute-looking objects, that I entreated my husband to go on. I thought, out of two evils, we were choosing the least by proceeding. I came to a different conclusion, however, before we reached our destination. My husband paid one dollar and a half toll, and we crossed a high bridge, under which rolled the Yuba. At this place, it was a rapidly rushing stream. It went foaming and dashing over innumerable rocks which intercepted its progress, overleaping every barrier, acknowledging no superior power. Unceasingly it rolled on its course, its waters mingling with those of her sister rivers, and all tending to one point, viz., the broad Pacific. Directly after crossing the Yuba, we commenced the toilsome ascent of the highest mountain we had yet encountered. At the commencement of the ascent, my husband alighted to walk up the mountain, and I was to drive up. The poor horse started with all the energy he possessed, in the hope, I suppose, of speedily gaining the top. I quickly lost sight of my husband, who was trudging on in the vain hope of overtaking me. Soon I began to perceive evident signs of exhaustion in the horse. I tried to stop him, but could not. The buggy drew back so, that, if he attempted to stop, it drew him back too. And oh, what an awful road it was! Deep gullies worn by streams of water, which had flowed down when the snow had melted, deep enough to hide myself in! I tried several times to get the carriage crosswise the road, but could not, on account of those gullies and huge rocks.” On the return trip “When we reached Bridgeport, we were accosted by the toll-gatherer with “Well, I reckon as how you had a, right smart heap of trouble that night, afore you reached the top of the mountain. I allowed you would be for turning back; but I have always heard say, ‘them Yankee women never would give up beat.’”

Its all a little easier these days, but you may have noticed that cell coverage is still patchy, as Mrs Bates later commented on too. She was using Apex Office Center in Roseville to take her calls, so she did not miss any important questions from her publisher, and if around today she would probably recommend that you do too. Call us on 916-677-4200.


by John Tomnay. CEO at Apex Office Centers