From ski towns to national parks, fresh fruit to environmental lawsuits, the Sierra Nevada has changed the way Americans live. Whether and where there was gold to be mined redefined land, mineral, and water laws. Where rain falls (and where it doesn’t) determines whose fruit grows on trees and whose appears on slot machines. All this emerges from the geology of the range and how it changed history, and in so doing, changed the country.
The Mountains That Remade America combines geology with history to show how the particular forces and conditions that created the Sierra Nevada have effected broad outcomes and influenced daily life in the United States in the past and how they continue to do so today. Drawing connections between events in historical geology and contemporary society, Craig H. Jones makes geological science accessible and shows the vast impact this mountain range has had on the American West.
Craig H. Jones is Professor of Geological Sciences and Fellow with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has published peer-reviewed research in Science, Nature, and prominent earth-science journals, and he is also the coauthor of Introduction to Applied Geophysics. He blogs as the Grumpy Geophysicist.
“‘Why are these mountains here?’ Craig Jones asks about the Sierra Nevada. History and geology buffs alike will celebrate as he reveals the answers in this captivating book. With meticulous research and breezy prose, Jones probes both the human history of the Sierra Nevada and the cutting-edge geologic discoveries that inform not just our knowledge of these mountains but the workings of the earth itself.”—Keith Meldahl, author of Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains
“We look up to the Sierra mountains because they are big and they are magnificent. But, as this book makes entirely clear, we also look up to them because they are important—far more important than we might otherwise realize.”—William Deverell, Director, Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West
“Rocks don’t lie, but we Homo sapiens haven’t quite grasped the full stories that mountains are silently telling us. The Mountains That Remade America redresses this, masterfully revealing human history in the Sierra as it intersects with geological history to show how these mountains create the world we live in now. Focusing on the Sierra Nevada Range, Craig Jones finds startling new ways to consider events like the Gold Rush and the protection of Yosemite. The book offers one revelation after another: compelling, deeply informative, new. This is essential reading that will change the way you look up at a peak and down at a valley.”—Mary Ellen Hannibal, author of Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction