Essay: California's Natural Resources and Economic Development

Pages: 5 (1647 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Energy  ·  Buy This Paper

California Natural Resources

California is now one of the largest regional economies in the world and its success is one of the pillars which made the United States an economic giant. Its success has been rapid starting between the 18th century and 19 century. The state is blessed with natural resources which have been fundamental in explaining the meteoric rise of the state into a regional economy.

California has a vast wealth of natural resources with minerals ranging from gold, silver and oil (Walker, 2001, p.1). It has extensive forests which is suitable for timber industry. it's well watered valley lands are suitable for farming; its gashing streams provide the water for producing hydroelectric power. Moreover, it has a long coastline which has rich upwelling, making it possible to feed the creatures of the sea and also serve as a trading gateway to international markets (Walker, 2001, p.11).

The discovery of gold brought about the gold rush with many prospectors pitching tent in the state hoping to make a fortune from the precious metal. The discovery got California into a flying start as it attracted investors and funding from all over the United States and foreign countries, (Walker, 2001, p.6). The gold rush had domino effect on the economy as the gold mining industry grew; other sectors of the economy also grew to match the demand. The demand for energy created the need for hydroelectric power which served not only the mining industry but other sectors as well. The mining of gold was successful with the output increasing from 1 billion dollars in 1840 to 3 billion dollars in 1940. Up to 1900, the gold industry in California produced a fifth of the world's gold and more monetary gold stock of the nation (Walker, 2001, p.7).

With the growth of the gold industry, other sectors of mining picked up too. Various mining industries were established to tap California's rich mineral deposits. Natural gas, quick silver (mercury), oil and other minerals were being extracted from the earth making California a premier mining district. Silver brought up large quantities estimated at 360 million dollars in total. The quantity was so much that the United States and Europe switched to gold standard. Between 1850 and 1890, California was the supplying half of the world's mercury with output increasing from 100 million dollars in 1895 to 140 million dollars by 1917 (Walker, 2001, p.7).

Another major mineral deposit in great demand was oil and it had a major impact on California's economy as the industrial age was ushering in. With numerous oil wells in its geography, California attracted oil prospectors from the big companies to the small ones. Between 1905 and 1930, California was the largest producer of crude oil and from 1920 to 1940 it produced a fifth of the globes Natural gas (BTU) (Walker, 2001, p.27).. Other minerals, even though not in large quantities, were mined had their effect on the economy of California. They include, copper, cement, salt, zinc and chromite.

Agriculture also played an important role in the development and growth of California. The cities within California provide the demand for the agricultural products including wine, beef, milk, beef, fresh vegetables among other products, a factor that led to the amplification of the wages of the farm workers and investors within the agriculture sector (Walker, 2001, p.20). The coastal forests provided much needed timber for the building and construction industries being established in the state. With various manufacturing factories and construction projects being undertaken, the demand for timber was sky high. Timber production output was at 1 billion dollars in 1912 and California was ranked as the 11th producer among states in the country. Other sectors such as fish (sardines) and fur were also instrumental in the growth of California's economy. In hydro-electric generation, California led the world in the use from 1920 to 1940. It became a world leader in water storage and transfer of hydropower (Walker, 2001, p.27).

The discovery and exploitation of minerals within California dates back to the 19th Century where a group of engineers, under John Fremont, discovered and consequently commenced the mining of valuable minerals such as gold along Californian coastline (Walker, 2001, p.23). This included the gold rush, the black gold rush and other pursuit of minerals buried in the ground. At the time, the policy of the United States government was to turn public domain into private land. This was to acquire land for the various mining projects, construction of industries and farming. It was to set up pre-conditions for capitalism. The chief obstacle in the way for this goal was the indigenous people staying in the land and their removal involved shocking brutal ways even by U.S. standards. Within one century, the population of California was reduced from half a million people to a mere ten thousand. Other regions in South West California which were under the rule of Mexico were acquired through war in 1846 to 1848 (Walker, 2001, p.12)..

California 49 ers gold rush set the property regime in California. The news of the large deposits of gold in the state brought a large number of people who were hoping to strike it rich. Most of them were middle class, ambitious young men. After seizing the state, they set up their own government and did away with any other conflicting traditions. It is not only gold which did attract people from far and wide, oil exploration also had its appeal to would be millionaires. The exploration of oil was a wide open affair with host of wild catters who would transform prospective fields into landscapes of drilling rigs, (Walker, 2001, p. 13). At the time, all that was needed was a large piece of land which can allow a rig to be set up and skilled workmen. Thus a few lucky small companies flourished alongside the big companies in oil exploration.

Another factor in the growth of California's regional economy was the fact that most of the wealth created in the state was re-invested in the state itself rather than distributed to distant cities or foreign powers. The wealth of nature attracted capitalists and investors which brought about the rapid growth of processing industries. A class of big capitalist began to emerge. The industries created a growth of successful millionaires who lived and invested in California. Those who made money in their first wave of business usually expanded by purchasing an even larger resource base. An example would be Henry Miller who went from a German butcher to a millionaire ranch owner. With profits being ploughed back into the system, the industries grew larger and were able to supply both national and international markets. The infrastructure was built and made California an economic hub.

With the growth of industries, there was industrialization growth in California. Processing is necessary to create useful products from natural materials. Timbering does not end up with felling of trees; there is need for sawing, paper production and milling. Oil production does not end up with extracting crude oil; there is need for refinery and production of petroleum products. With every natural material, there are emerged a related industry to process the product. Fruit canneries, saw mills, oil rigs and other related industries emerged to process the various natural materials.

As equipment increased and improved, so did the efficiency of extraction. This was majorly significant in mining and oil drilling industries. It was now possible to drill deeper wells and even build offshore oil rigs greatly increasing supply and growth of the industry. In mining, the tunnels now could go deeper in the earth and increase production. Moreover, there was rapid technological innovation in the equipment and processing industries. For example, silver was buried several thousand meters down the earth, it required innovations in explosives… [END OF PREVIEW]

Economic and Trade Development Thesis


California Economy Essay


Economic Globalization Term Paper


History of Economic Thought Mercantilist School Term Paper


Natural Energy Resources Term Paper


View 478 other related papers  >>

Cite This Essay:

APA Format

California's Natural Resources and Economic Development.  (2013, June 17).  Retrieved August 22, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/california-natural-resources-economic/8038567

MLA Format

"California's Natural Resources and Economic Development."  17 June 2013.  Web.  22 August 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/california-natural-resources-economic/8038567>.

Chicago Format

"California's Natural Resources and Economic Development."  Essaytown.com.  June 17, 2013.  Accessed August 22, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/california-natural-resources-economic/8038567.