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Developing a Presentation Worksheet

Hydraulic mining became the most efficient and most used mining method until 1884 when a court case brought by farmers and valley cities curtailed the practice. This lesson will give students the opportunity to explore reasons for supporting and opposing hydraulic mining.


  • Use source material for gathering data
  • Evaluate source material
  • Gather information about the practices of hydraulic mining
  • Participate in a mock hearing

Student Task:

Students will be participants in a court hearing where a decision will be made whether to allow the continued use of hydraulic mining.

Grade Level: 4, 8

Lesson Connections and Standards References:
California Department of Education’s

Subject Areas: History-Social Science, Language Arts, Technology

Resources Used:

  • California Department of Conservation Division of Mines and Geology: DMG CD 98-001 California Gold Mines—A Sesquicentennial Photograph Collection.
  • Hutchings California Magazine, September 1860
  • Nevada City Transcript, September 1860
  • Sacramento Record-Union, March 1878
  • People vs. Gold Run Ditch and Mining Company, 1882
  • Marysville Appeal, September 1889
  • Woodruff vs. North Bloomfield, 1884
  • Miscellaneous testimonies to California State Legislature

Materials and Preparation:

Before class begins, download and duplicate the following materials:

Visual Object Analysis Worksheet

Written Document Analysis Worksheet

Developing a Presentation Worksheet

Student’s Testimony Pages (3 copies)

Hydraulic Mining Photographs (2 copies each)


  1. Divide the class into 2 groups.

    The first group will represent the farmers and valley cities. They will present arguments against hydraulic mining.

    The second group will represent the miners and present arguments in favor of hydraulic mining.

    The teacher will be the judge and jury who makes a final decision on hydraulic mining or another class could be invited to act as jury.

  2. Copy the Student’s Testimony Pages three times, cut one into individual sections and distribute them to students. There are 19 statements and 13 photographs. Also, two attorneys will need to be selected for each side (miners and farmers). Each group of attorneys will also get a copy of the Student Testimony Pages. (Given the responsibilities of the attorney, it is probable that the teacher needs to select students able to read and organize well.) Each side can decide which testimony they wish to use in the hearing. The records include testimony in legislative committee, newspaper articles, a statement from the inventor of hydraulic mining, photos and other historical documents. The students will need to decide which of the records would be helpful to their presentation and then bring the student assigned to that document into their group. The decision of which documents are valuable is integral to the processes of a researcher. Hydraulic Mining Photographs are available. Students will record which of the pictures or articles are helpful to their presentation and why that is so. Provide each student with Visual Objects Analysis Worksheet or the Written Document Analysis Worksheet. Each group will meet and plan the sequence of their presentation, using the Developing a Presentation Worksheet.

  3. Each group will make their arguments in "court." They can use pictures downloaded from the web site and they can read their assigned testimony. It would be helpful if the groups clearly explained hydraulic mining. The groups would then present their cases. The judge and/or the jury would make the ruling.

  4. After the classroom court has reached its decision, the teacher can read portions of the original decisions of 1883 and 1884. A statute passed in 1893 is also included.

  5. For further information on hydraulic mining, the teacher can go to the Teacher’s Information - Hydraulic Mining.


Students will be evaluated on:

  1. Thoroughness of information presented
  2. Ability to work in a group
  3. Research worksheets
  4. Quality of the presentation made to the judge
  5. Additional extensions selected by the teacher


  • Students could discuss ways to clean up the residue left by the miners.
  • Students could check the status of some of the mountain streams which still have mercury leaking from mines (mercury was used to capture the gold.)
  • Students could write about the benefits of hydraulic mining for California and the nation (gold to treasury and water for irrigation and water supplies for the towns.)

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