September 22 (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2004)
‘I can hardly imagine living around here much longer.’

 “September 22, 1985

Morning. Yesterday I went in to town [...] Later I came back out here, and visited the Old Mine Tunnel Below the Springs. It has continued to cave in around the entrance, and I fear I'll have to give up altogether my project to open it up for water storage.

[...] Today is the first day of Fall, 1985. [...] I received the questionnaire about Smarts Crossing in the mail yesterday; it's ridiculous: how many times have you been to Smart's Crossing in the forty years prior to the November 19, 1984 (when we served the lawsuit); who was with you; what are their names and addresses and telephone numbers; who had knowledge of your visits to Smart's Crossing; what did you do there; how did you get there; give a full and complete account of each visit there. What a joke.”

[Russell Towle's journal]


Today is the first day of Fall, and an east wind shimmers the trees. So it shapes up warm and dry. A trip to Pyramid Lake would be nice.

I just walked up to the meadow and cut ceanothus and bracken ferns away from the incense cedars.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

9/22/87 Afternoon. Hot weather. [...] Tim just stopped by; he was looking for Taffy. She had been by here a few days ago; I remember that she was friskier than I'd seen her in ages. Taffy is about 13 or 14 years old. I'd walked up to the meadow with her, and noticed that she was staying with me; we walked here and there, a nostalgic episode for me. Taffy was always one of my very favorite dogs. I say was, because I fear she is dead; that she got lost, after leaving me, wandered off into the woods, and now is far away, either dead already, or dying, of starvation, thirst, etc. Tim had been away for eight days; Dave's Britta was seeing to her food.

I'm sad. Taffy came to say a final goodbye; we'd played and hiked together many a time. Now she's gone.


It is very sad, about Taffy; I just cried for a while. Now I'm cooking spaghetti and crying again, to think of her frisking, prancing, walking with me in the meadow, on the knoll... She was the nicest dog, the nicest dog...”

[Russell Towle's journal]

9/22/88  Morning.

The few entries in the journal reflect my continuing absorption in the patio project at Ed's; it has dominated my life, what, forever now. [...]

Today, the fall equinox, at 12:29 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time.

Monday, afternoon showers, and one of the best rainbows I've ever seen, arching across the canyon for half an hour before sunset. It was double, the main inner bow bright, bright, with a series of smaller bows, concentric, gold, packed tightly just within: three were always discernible, a fourth could be seen by careful examination. Various and sundry fantastical fogs were shining enflamed within the main bow's frame, the sun's oboe-like rays rousing the fitful foggy serpents... [...]”

[Russell Towle's journal]

9/22/00   The autumnal equinox—and it's raining!

The Giant Gap hike/swim mentioned above was a monster but we did it. The pools in the Gap are so awesome. Gay did come and it was OK but she was not able to maintain a good pace and we ended up climbing out on the Canyon Creek Trail after dark. There was a good moon (just as planned) and it was kind of nice. Saw a bear down in the Gap. Those guys can handle steep terrain.

Since then I have been busy, or sort of busy, working on boundary documentation for the soon-to-be-proposed North Fork American Wilderness Area. The California Wilderness Coalition is trying to get all the roadless areas of any size left in the state, designated Wilderness; and they drew up some boundaries for the North Fork, which really missed the mark. So I have a lot of work left to do, making trips up to the upper canyon.

Bill Newsom really helped out by buying me a Nikon Cooolpix 990, a 3.34 megapixel digital camera, truly excellent. I have taken hundreds of photos with it, in Canyon Creek, the GR diggings, Big Valley Bluff, Sugar Pine Point, etc. etc.

I am also working on a land acquisition proposal for the GR diggings, to send to David Sutton of the TPL. Should work on it today. Need to get it to him.

The development of the 10-acre parcels off Lovers Leap road is now almost complete. It is just as I always feared, Jon began the process, clearing trees away to open up the view, and crowding the houses down close to the edge, so that they may be seen from far up the canyon, as well as from the Green Valley Trail. Really really disgusting and disheartening. For years I took people out to Lovers Leap and Iron Point and tried to make them realize how precious the view of Giant Gap and Moody Ridge are, and how important it was to forestall development on those parcels, even circulating the petition back in 1983-84, bringing the Supervisors out there. BLM people. On and on, all to no avail. Well, the BLM was able to trade for a few parcels close to Lovers Leap itself. Even now I am trying to get this Giant Gap Trail from Lovers Leap to Canyon Creek going, so that maybe just maybe the parcels along there can be acquired by BLM and at least along Giant Gap itself we won't end up with a row of houses; but it may already be too late. It is so so sad. I can hardly imagine living around here much longer. It is too terrible to see what has become of one of the prettiest and most mystically beautiful places in California.

Led a PARC hike out to Sugar Pine Point last weekend with Eric Peach. It was really nice.”
Photos from that Sugar Pine Point PARC hike:
Big Valley Bluff from Sugar Pine Point
Eric Peach and PARC friends, at “Little Slate Ridge”
Michael Onewing and friends, circling around a huge old pine at Sugar Pine Point

Tommy Cain Ravine
[North Fork Trails blogpost, September 22, 2004: ]
Blurring our focus, we can describe the North Fork American as flowing from east to west. Its true "global" direction is northeast to southwest, but it is easier to say and to write, east to west.

In the Gold Run area, a series of tributaries enter from the north. Beginning on the east, we have Canyon Creek, by far the largest of these tributaries; then Indiana Ravine, Sheldron Ravine, and Tommy Cain Ravine.

In all my research into the history of Dutch Flat and Gold Run I do not recall ever seeing the name, "Tommy Cain," anywhere except on the modern-day USGS 7.5 minute Dutch Flat quadrangle. It would be safe to imagine Tommy a miner.

Indiana Ravine is noteworthy for being the site of the supposed original discovery of gold in the "high" gravels of what would become the Gold Run Diggings. This discovery took place in 1851, or perhaps 1852—I have seen both years cited. Several men prospected up Indiana Ravine from the North Fork, finding good "color" all the way, until they reached beds of cemented gravels near the top of the ravine. These cemented gravels proved rich in gold, and mining claims were staked out immediately. By September of 1852 the Indiana Hill Ditch had been constructed to bring water from Canyon Creek to these nascent "diggings." An Indiana Hill Mining District had already been formed.

All four of these tributaries must have been enriched by gold from the high Eocene-age gravels of the Gold Run Diggings—but Tommy Cain Ravine, the most eastern of its headwaters on the very west margin of the high gravels, would likely have been enriched the least.

I often think of the North Fork canyon as "insular," meaning "island-like," even though topologically, a canyon is a concavity and an island is a convexity. What I intend by calling it insular is that it is an entity of its own right, separate, walled off from the terrain around it. There is often quite a distinct canyon rim which divides the steep canyon from the gentle uplands beyond. Streams entering the North Fork in their own smaller canyons, then, create "passes" between the main North Fork and the uplands. Such "passes" can become trail routes, as, for instance, the Canyon Creek Trail.

A remnant of trail into the "insular" canyon of the North Fork of the American River, near Gold Run.
September 22, 2000.
Hence it is natural enough to imagine that Tommy Cain Ravine might have been used as a trail route, offering an easier, less abrupt path out of the steep-walled North Fork canyon. The 1865 GLO map shows the Fords Bar Trail using this "Tommy Cain Ravine Route" (TCRR). But the 1865 surveyor's "field notes" do not agree with the map itself.

The 1865 map shows two crossings of Tommy Cain Ravine by the TCRR. It so happens that faint old human trails cross Tommy Cain almost exactly where the 1865 map would have the TCRR making its two crossings. What a coincidence! Too much of a coincidence, one is sure. Yet yesterday's exploration has convinced me that it is, indeed, merely a coincidence. The upper crossing is part of a trail which connects the true, ridge-line Fords Bar Trail to a mining area in Tommy Cain Ravine. This trail, as plotted on a map, makes a kind of sharp upside-down "V" from the Fords Bar ridge at 2600' on the west, to the mining area at 2200' on the east, the point of the "V" being the crossing of Tommy Cain.

At the mining area are two camp or cabin sites, each with its own ancient cast-iron wood stove. Yesterday Ron and I gathered the fragments of the higher cabin site and assembled them as best as possible. We even found the maker's mark, reading as I recall "Buck's Patent" and then "McCoy and Clark, Albany" and then "Patented 1859."

Hence 1859 can be taken as the earliest possible date for the use of this stove at the Tommy Cain Ravine mining site.

On the Internet I searched without success for "McCoy and Clark" but I did find reference to "Buck's Patent" and especially to Albany, New York, as a center of cast-iron construction, especially of wood stoves, in the middle 19th century.

Near the upper cabin site a narrow bed of limestone appears within the metasediments of the Calaveras Complex rocks. This limestone might well bear fossils which would help to date the sedimentary part of the Calaveras Complex. I thought I saw some vague fossils in fragments of limestone near the stove/cabin site.

Also of interest in this area is "The Groove," an old lumber slide, it seems, similar to the lumber slide on Diving Board Ridge, between Canyon Creek and Indiana Ravine, to the east. It is a groove dropping straight down to the North Fork from Point 3007, on the divide between Tommy Cain on the west and Sheldon on the east.

Click to enlarge.

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