Combining British financing, American engineering, and Canadian contracting, the White Pass and Yukon was the first major civil engineering project on the continent above the 60th degree of northern latitude. Completed in 27 months using only hand tools, black powder, and regional timber, the White Pass and Yukon rises almost 2,900 feet from sea level at the port of Skagway to the White Pass summit on the U.S.-Canada border in just 20 miles, accomplishing one of the steepest climbs of any railroad in the world.
The first authenticated discovery of gold in the U.S. occurred on the Cabarrus County farm of John Reed in 1799, sparking the nation's first gold rush. During its peak years, more than a million dollars of gold was recovered a year, making North Carolina a leader in gold production until 1848. This mill, built by the Mecklenburg Iron Works of Charlotte, North Carolina, is original except for the timber work. Two groups of five 750-pound stamps with 5- to 7-inch lift, rose and fell thirty-five times a minute to yield a finely crushed ore.
A product of the Northern California Gold Rush, the Bridgeport Covered Bridge is believed to be the longest, single-span, wooden covered bridge in the United States. Crossing the south fork of the Yuba River at a span of 233 feet, the bridge was built by the Virginia City Turnpike Company as part of a 14-mile toll road authorized by the California state legislature. The toll road was an essential link connecting Virginia City, Nevada, and the silver-producing Comstock Lode with the centers of California commerce.
Belle Fourche, meaning "Beautiful Forks" in French, refers to the confluence of the Redwater and Belle Fourche Rivers. The gold rush to the Black Hills in 1876 brought many people to the area, but agriculture and livestock soon became the principal industries. Farmers and civic leaders recognized the need for a reliable source of irrigation water in this semi-arid region and petitioned the Federal government for funds to build an irrigation and flood control system.