Historic Resource Study, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, 1984
VI. Steps Leading Toward Establishment of Crater Lake National Park
E. Commercial Exploitation Threatens National Forestlands
Until 1863 federal land laws treated all the public domain as agricultural lands, with no attempts made to classify it into distinct categories such as forest, mineral, and pastoral tracts. Regulations regarding mining and lumbering were therefore practically nonexistent and certainly ineffective. As a result of this lack of control, mining-related activities in the Far West had ruined both soil and forests at an early date after the great California Gold Rush. While dredges and hydraulic jets turned river courses into gravel pits and flattened hillsides, entire forests were being harvested to provide charcoal for smelters and timbers for shoring up mine tunnels. Throughout the 1850s increased use of coal and iron, wide-spread mechanization, and expanding markets due to improved transportation laid emphasis on quick profits and rapid industrialization. The immediate result was more rapid destruction of the country’s natural resources.