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EDAC exhibit a unique look at the Gold Rush

"Big Cut Cobbles" 2017 by Caitlin Thompson

The El Dorado Arts Council presents Deep Blue Lead, an exhibit that examines the vast, ancient river forged by powerful geologic forces at work millions of years ago — a flow of water that gouged out a channel two miles wide and four miles long. The ore that was eventually deposited along the lead was discovered during the Gold Rush; the vein runs under the lava caps that give the local winery its name, under Smith Flat House and Hangtown Creek for several miles towards the South Fork of the American River.

EDAC enlisted noted geologist George Wheeldon and local photographer Caitlin Thompson to combine their expertise in order to explore and document the ancient river channel. George A. Wheeldon, P.G., emeritus professor of geology, is a leading expert on the Deep Blue Lead and local geology. He has been a resident in El Dorado County since the early 1960s, pursuing his childhood passion of discovery. A student, teacher, professional geologist and all-around curiosity seeker he has amassed an enormous bank of knowledge which he brings to this venture.

“The development of the gold deposits in the Deep Blue Lead had a tremendous impact on the early economic and cultural development of the Placerville area,” said Wheeldon. “I thank the El Dorado Arts Council for their help in retelling this important story of the earlier settlement of this area of the Mother Lode in California.”

Local photographer and artist Thompson has lived in El Dorado County for nearly 10 years and spends much of her spare time exploring and photographing the unique landscapes of the county.

“Working on this project has been quite a challenge,” said Thompson, “Most of the lead is underground, or on private property, so finding out where to go to capture images was an adventure. But working with George was fascinating and it was a great opportunity to learn the relatively unknown history of the Deep Blue Lead and capture some of its elements in photographs.”

Included in the exhibition at the Fausel House in Placerville are vintage and contemporary photographic images, charts and maps, as well as geologic samples. A full-color catalogue to accompany the exhibition will be free to visitors and contains an essay by Wheeldon, who will give a talk on the geology of the Deep Blue Lead on at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the Fausel House.

A gallery reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, and the exhibit will be on display through Aug. 27. For more information contact Andrew Vonderschmitt at (530) 295-3496 or [email protected]

Special to Village Life

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