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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West by Donald Worster


Next time you pass through the city of Oroville in Northern California on State H ighway 70, take a detour through town and go up to the Oroville Dam. Take the road that follows the channel of the Feather River, winding through hills clothed in manzanita, madrone, and oak. You will soon round a bend to the impressive sight of the world's tallest earthen dam at 770 feet. Swing up past the dam to the visitor center's museum. Against one wall, amid the wildlife taxidermy and Gold Rush artifacts, is a white graphic outline of the state of Cali­ fornia. Throughitsmidsectionathickbluearrowslashesfromnorthto south. It is simply captioned: "The Plan."

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