|The current Google image of the Tuolumne River where I walk|
It's hard to say what the river looked like before the Gold Rush. Maps from that time aren't at all detailed. But we can say that the river of 1848 was certainly different than the one we see today. Most of the gravels along floodplain have been sifted and sluiced multiple times for the elusive yellow metal. In later years, from the early 1900s to as late as 1970, gold dredges processed the gravels yet again. The river gravels then were utilized as construction material, a use that continues today. However things were, the river today hardly resembles its former self.
|This Google map image shows the slough that I reference below, between the S. Reinway Park and Trailhead and the pond at Frantz Wholesale Nursery. Compare to the satellite image above to see it filled with invasive River Hyacinth.|
I doubt that this part of the river had the kinds of meanders found further downstream on the flatter parts of the floor of the Central Valley. It is more likely that it had somewhat of a braided pattern (multiple constantly changing channels), given the vast amount of sediment being carried from the higher parts of the Sierra Nevada. The sediment load today is diminished because of major reservoirs upstream. It would have been ideal habitat for spawning salmon.
|The slough mentioned below is underwater on the left side of the photograph.|