cover of book

From California's Gold Fields to the Mendocino Coast: A Settlement History Across Time and Place
by Samuel M. Otterstrom
University of Nevada Press, 2017
Cloth: 978-1-943859-28-3 | eISBN: 978-0-87417-469-4
Library of Congress Classification F867.5
Dewey Decimal Classification 979.4

California’s history is rich and diverse, with numerous fascinating stories hidden in its past. Before the discovery of gold in the Sierras, San Francisco (Yerba Buena) and its surroundings comprised a sparsely populated frontier on the edge of the old Spanish realm. After 1848, the area rapidly transformed into a settled urban system as a tremendous influx of prospectors and settlers came to seek their fortune in California. A wave of gold miners, merchants, farmers, politicians, carpenters, and many others from various backgrounds and corners of the world migrated to the area at that time. Interrelated social, geographic, and economic processes led to a very quick metamorphosis from frontier settlement to a firmly established system with ingrained economic patterns.
The development of San Francisco’s outlying region from a wilderness into a prosperous village and farming mecca shows how quickly in-migration coupled with economic diversification can establish a stable settlement structure upon the landscape. Otterstrom describes an intricately woven tapestry of interrelated people who were contributing creators of a wide variety of prosperous northern California environs. He uncovers the processes that converted this sleepy post-Mexican outpost into a focal point of nearly hyperactive youthful growth. The narrative follows this crucial story of settlement development until the dawn of the twentieth century, through the interconnected framework of individual and family ingenuity, migration trajectories, and diverse geographical scales.
Multiplying individualistic experiences from across far-flung appendages of the Northern California system into larger and larger scales, Otterstrom has achieved a matchless historical and sociological study that will form the basis for any future studies of the area.
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