(1,208), the most south-westerly State in the American
Union; occupies the Pacific seaboard between Oregon and Mexico, and is
bounded landward by Nevada and Arizona. It is
the second largest State,
larger by a quarter than the United Kingdom. In the N. the rainfall is
excessive, and winters severe; in the S. there is little rain, and a
delightful climate. Wheat is the most important product; the grape and
all manner of fruits grow luxuriantly. Mineral wealth is great: it is the
foremost State for gold and quicksilver; lead, silver, copper, iron,
sulphur, coal, and many other minerals abound. The industries include
brandy and sugar manufactures, silk-growing, shipbuilding, and fishing.
All products are exported, eastward by the great Central, Union, and
Southern Pacific railroads; and seaward, the chief port being San
Francisco, the largest city, as Sacramento is the capital of the State.
The Yosemite Valley, in the Sierra Nevada, through which falls the Merced
River, is the most wonderful gorge in the world. Captured from Mexico in
1847, the discovery of gold next year raised great excitement, and
brought thousands of adventurers from all over the world. Constituted a
State in 1850, the original lawlessness gradually gave way to regular
administration, and progress has since been steady and rapid.