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For the Teacher

Unit

Describe the geography of California's Mother Lode region.
Identify and describe ways in which native Americans interacted with their Mother Lode environment.

Understand the impact of changing gold mining practices on the environment of the Mother Lode.

Diagram and explain the movement of mercury through the environment from its use in mining to human consumption.
Examine how arsenic concentrations result from gold mining and how it impacts the environment.
Analyze the various factors that have contributed to changing the forest cover of the Mother Lode.
Examine how agricultural practices have changed over the last century and a half in the Mother Lode.
Describe changing demographic patterns in the Mother Lode

Related National Standards

GIS Activities

Arsenic Cancer

GIS assignments are part of several of the activities in this unit. The activities make use of ArcGIS Online, an internet software that runs on most browsers. If you do not have an an ArcGIS account and would like to have one you can sign up for a free personal account here.

The El Dorado Project files are also available to download for ArcGIS Desktop:

The data and images in the various map layers are from a variety of sources:

Layers

Source

California State &
County Level Data
California state and county shape files including hydrological, land cover, and base map data from the Cal-Atlas Geospatial Clearinghouse.
California Arsenic & Cancer Related Data Arsenic level data from Alex N. Helperin David S. Beckman Dvora Inwood, California's Contaminated Groundwater: Is the State Minding the Store? (Los Angeles: Natural Resources Defense Council, 2001).

Cancer related data from National Cancer Institute, State Cancer Profiles, 2005-2009.
Vegetation

Historic photos of El Dorado County from the Wieslander Vegetation Type Maps & Photographs, University of California 2005.

Vegetation data for 1934 and 1945 from the Wieslander Vegetation Mapping Project, University of California, Berkeley, 2005.

Vegetation data from 1977 from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Historic CALVEG Project.

Contemporary data from the Cal-Atlas Geospatial Clearinghouse

Mining

Mine data from USGS, Mineral Resources On-Line Spatial Data.

Principle Area of Mine Pollution data from the California Department of Conservation.

Agriculture

Agricultural census data from 1997 from the USDA Census of Agriculture Historical Archive.

Data from earlier years from the Census of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.

El Dorado Hills Aerial Photos Stitched from USGS, Earth Explorer photos
Demographics Census related shape files and data from the Minnesota Population Center. National Historical Geographic Information System: Pre-release Version 0.1. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota 2004.
Land Use Historic land use data from the Farmland Mapping & Monitoring Program, California Department of Conservation
Basemaps World Street, World Image, and World Topographic basemaps from ArcGIS Resource Center.

Additional Resources

Those interested in learning more will find that the Internet offers a variety of interesting materials.
Calisphere
The 1848-1865: The Gold Rush Era section contains an extensive collection of materials on the Gold Rush in California
Library of Congress: American Memory Collection
Search the American Memory Collection for resources on the California gold rush .
For Further Reading
Students and teachers wishing to learn more about the impact of gold mining in California may want to read the following:

James J. Rawls and Richard J. Orsi, A Golden State: Mining and Economic Development in Gold Rush California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).

Contact

Your comments and suggestion about these materials are more than welcome.

If you have ideas for additional topics that would lend themselves to the approach taken here, please pass them along. I'd enjoy collaborating with you.

email:

Last modified in January, 2011 by Rick Thomas

Last modified in February, 2013 by Rick Thomas