The men worked till the last possible moment in the narrow river bed, only leaving in time to save their lives, and abandoning everything to the sudden rush of the water. Their sluices, logs, flumes, water-wheels, all their mining paraphernalia, sometimes even their living outfits, were swept away in the floods.
The river was known to rise from 20 to 60 feet in 24 hours, in its narrow and precipitous walls.
At flood time, then, we often went down to the river through the orchard of big old cherry trees planted by my grandfather, to watch the mass of wreckage rushing by. Great logs would go down end over end; mining machinery caught in the limbs of uprooted trees; quantities of lumber, and once a miner's bunk with sodden gray blanket and a wet and frantic squirrel upon it. I worried for days over the fate of that squirrel.
They tell the story of a Chinaman floating down upon a log.
"Hello, John, where you go?" was shouted. John shook his head, sadly.
"Me no sabe! Maybe Saclimento - maybe San Flancisco. No got time talkee, now."
"Look, the water is up to the top of the old stone pier," said one of the others.
"Mammy Kate's 'ghost' would have a hard time haunting it now," I laughed. "He'd be under twenty feet of water."