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Guide to the State of California vs. Yuba Goldfields Collection, 1979-1985
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Access Points
  • Contents
  • History
  • Related Collections

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: State of California vs. Yuba Goldfields Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1979-1985
    Box Number: 1754-1794
    Repository: California State Library
    Sacramento, California
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information



    Conditions of Use

    Please credit California State Library.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to California State Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing. Permission for publication is given on behalf of California State Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], State of California vs. Yuba Goldfields Collection, California State Library.

    Access Points

    Yuba River (Calif.) --Navigation --Law and legislation
    Inland navigation --Law and legislation --California
    Marysville (Calif.) --History


    Briefs and court decisions from 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, settlement agreement, trial briefs, complaints and answer motion for summary judgment, listing and analysis of exhibits, comments on navigability, plaintiff and defendant exhibits, depositions of witnesses, trial transcripts


    The principal factual issue in the case was whether the Yuba River was navigable in 1850 (year of admission of California into the Union) from Marysville upstream to about Mile 18. The Plaintiff took the position it was navigable, but the Defendants opposed. The significance of this issue was that if navigable, the Plaintiff would own the bed of the river as it existed in 1850, otherwise, it would be owned by the Defendants or others.
    In this instance the precise lands involved were a some 400 feet wide running from about Mile 8 to Mile 18, with the United States having record fee ownership of the surface and Yuba the precious metals in some areas, and each owning the entire fee in other tracts.
    The approximate time period covered was early 1800 to early 1900. This evidence generated more documents, plus all the briefs, depositions, and trial transcripts associated with the case.
    Recognized historians of note were arrayed on all sides, including W. Turrintine Jackson for the State, William H. Hutchinson and Joe Hagwood for the United States, and John Thompson for Yuba. The attorneys were Richard Frank and Blake Stevenson for the State, Mary Beth Uitti and Don Denney for the United States, and Lloyd Hinkleman and Andrea Miller for Yuba.
    The case was filed by the State on October 19, 1979. After the usual preliminary skirmishes, it went to trial before the Honorable Paul A. Ramirez on February 15, 1983 and proceeded intermittently through May 3, 1983.
    The Judge rendered an intermediate decision on July 22, 1983, not on the merits of the case but on a motion for dismissal by the United States that the Court did not have the jurisdiction of the Federal interests because of a 12-year statute of limitations. A decision of the Supreme Court had just been issued on a similar question that the Federal statute would run against a state the same as an individual. The Judge followed that decision and dismissed the United States, which had the effect of the State not being able to get title to any of the record interests of the United States.
    The State appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which affirmed on January 21, 1985. The State then pursued the matter to the Supreme Court, which denied the Writ of Certiorari on December 2, 1985. This ended the case insofar as it concerned the interests of the United States.
    However, with regard to Yuba`s interests, the statute did not run against them, and the case could have continued to trial to decide the navigability question. At this point the remaining parties, State and Yuba, entered into an agreement whereby Yuba would quitclaim all its interests in the bed of the current river and State would quitclaim its claim to the location of 1850 river located outside the current river.
    The net effect of this would be that the state would get ownership of the bed in certain parts of the river and mineral ownership in others, and Yuba would get clear title in the old river bed (at least the precious metals) where it desired to continue dredging for gold.
    This settlement did not resolve the issue of navigability, which remains to be resolved on another day with other parties, especially involving the record owners between Marysville and upstream to about Mile 8.

    Related Collections

    Title: William H. Hutchinson Collection