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Although the river is open year round, the use of equipment such as metal detectors is restricted. Explore the NEW USGS National Water Dashboard; to access real-time data from over 13,500 stations nationwide. [citation needed] The diverted water is returned to the Middle Fork at Ralston Afterbay (Oxbow Reservoir),[citation needed] located directly below the confluence of the Middle Fork and Rubicon River[9] at an elevation of 1,168 ft (356 m). These auriferous gravels are actually ancient river beds, which over millions of years were eroded away resulting in the placer gold deposits of the modern river. More challenging Class IV whitewater, yet suitable for a wide range of skill levels. [50] Due to concerns about earthquake safety and strong public opposition, Auburn Dam was never completed, and the bridge project ended with it. [9] The Middle Fork continues west towards the western end of Ralston Ridge, north of Balderson Station, where it is joined by its largest tributary, the Rubicon River. 4. Water flow in the Middle Fork has been extensively modified by dams and diversions, with late spring-early summer high flows stored in reservoirs to generate hydropower later in the year when natural runoff is at its lowest. Some 400 specimens were removed from the site, including fossils of saber-toothed tigers, mastodons, and giant ground sloths, as well as Ice Age-era human remains. Anderson Dam. It drains a large watershed in the high Sierra Nevada west of Lake Tahoe and northeast of Sacramento in Placer and El Dorado Counties, between the watersheds of the North Fork American River and South Fork American River. [38] Overall, the Middle Fork was one of the richest gold-bearing streams in the Mother Lode. Below Anderson Dam the Middle Fork begins to form the boundary between the Tahoe National Forest on the north and the Eldorado National Forest on the south, almost to its confluence with the North Fork. Hell Hole Dam on the Rubicon River was still under construction at that time when massive flooding struck northern California. A study conducted by the Middle Fork of the American River Restoration Project (2011) identified five forest types in the upper Middle Fork and the North Fork Middle Fork watersheds. Without the dams, river flow in late summer would average around 300 cubic feet per second (8.5 m3/s) naturally. Before heading out, be sure to check the relevant Dreamflows flow report and Bulletin Board thread to determine current and expected release trends. [26] Certain south-facing slopes at lower elevations are dominated by chaparral and to a lesser extent, grasslands. The popular motorcycle/ATV riding area was established in 1993. Scheduled release: 1000 cfs or more from 4am to noon. The river is dammed extensively to produce hydroelectricity and provide domestic water supply. Part of the trail in the Auburn State Recreation Area has been named the Wendell T. Robie Trail. ... about 6 hours to reach the Ruck-a-Chucky/Drivers Flat area, and about 10 hours to reach the North Fork confluence. An 1890 report estimated an average take of $1 million of placer gold per mile from the Middle Fork between 1849 to 1863. Class IV whitewater with additional challenges. The Rubicon River is the largest tributary watershed, at 315.4 sq mi (817 km ), which is nearly three times the size of the Middle Fork's own drainage area above their confluence. [37] Horseshoe Bar turned out to be one of the richest gold deposits in the Middle Fork with $2.5 million of gold taken out from just 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of river bed. [9][13], Near Foresthill the Middle Fork leaves the western boundary of the Tahoe/Eldorado National Forests and enters the Auburn State Recreation Area in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Almost the entire watershed is forested, with the exception of the alpine zone at the highest elevations near the Sierra Crest, and some areas of grasslan… [58] In dry years, the California Department of Water Resources may require PCWA to release additional water to maintain stream flows in the lower American River. 5. [51] All electricity produced by the project is distributed by Pacific Gas & Electric Company. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Times reflect releases at Oxbow Powerhouse/Ralston Dam. [9] The North Fork Middle Fork is free-flowing with no significant dams or diversions. Releases shown are minimum releases. The Middle Fork delineates the Placer County (north)–El Dorado County line from Oxbow Dam all the way until its confluence with the North Fork. Above 2200 CFS: high flows. In order to force the river back into the tunnel, a narrow channel was blasted through the ledge, creating the formidable rapid known today as Tunnel Chute. A new release schedule for Oxbow Reservoir is posted on the 10 th of each month. Elevations range from 538 ft (164 m) at the river's mouth[1] to over 9,900 ft (3,000 m) at the headwaters of the Rubicon River. The North Fork was dammed in 1938–39 to form Lake Clementine. [citation needed] Just downstream, the Middle Fork flows through Tunnel Chute, where the river races through a man-made tunnel blasted out during the California Gold Rush, in order to dewater part of the river bed for mining. Red fir forests, encompassing about 13 percent of the total, are found mostly at higher elevations. Free Dreamflows reports and alerts are available via email. [42] By 1900, an estimated 10 to 15 million cubic yards (7.6–11.5 million m3) of sediment had accumulated in the Middle Fork, although this represented only a fraction of the total since much of it has already been washed downstream in the preceding decades. There are many other trails that provide access from the rim of the canyon to various points along the river. The 7-mile (11 km) Mountain Quarries Railroad was run through the lower Middle Fork and North Fork canyons, connecting with the Southern Pacific main line south of Auburn. The old Native American trail Brewer had followed was subsequently used by some miners during the silver boom in Nevada, but due to its ruggedness and lack of water along much of the route, it failed to become a major crossing of the Sierra Nevada. Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site! Less than two years later, nearly 10,000 miners had staked claims on the Middle Fork, with some of the richest sites including Ford's Bar, Maine Bar, Murderer's Bar and Spanish Bar. More than 20 endangered, threatened or sensitive wildlife species have been found in the watershed, including the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, California red-legged frog and California spotted owl. The flood surge of 260,000 cubic feet per second (7,400 m3/s) may have exceeded in magnitude any natural flood since the Pleistocene. [35], In 1850, miners blasted a tunnel through a ridge, diverting the Middle Fork away from the long oxbow of Horseshoe Bar and allowing the river bed to be mined for gold. No scheduled release planned for this day. This release schedule informs boaters when recreational flows are released, thus ensuring enough water for whitewater paddlers. [44], In 1906 John C. Hawver, an Auburn dentist, discovered large limestone caverns along the lower Middle Fork canyon north of Cool at a height of some 700 feet (210 m) above the river. [12], A short distance below the dam the Middle Fork is joined by its second largest tributary, the North Fork Middle Fork American River, which drains an extensive area along the Forest Hill Divide, though lower in elevation than the upper Middle Fork or Rubicon Rivers.

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