AT the present time, when so many people are leaving their homes and traveling in other lands, either for pleasure or profit, no country, perhaps, is visited with greater interest, or presents to the tourist more of the beauties and wonderful works of nature, than the far-famed State of California. Its awfully grand and sublime mountain scenery, its beautiful and fertile valleys, its marvelous natural curiosities of almost every conceivable kind, have given it a world-wide fame, and made it a favorite resort for tourists from nearly every land. 

In the accompanying engraving the artist has endeavored to give us a limited view of some of these wonders. In the distance are seen the lofty mountains, rearing their snow-capped summits thousands of feet above the level of the sea. A little nearer appears a waterfall, dashing and plunging down the side of the mountain ; and in the valley we see a beautiful stream dancing merrily along, making music in the solitude. In the foreground of the picture are represented a few of the flowers and luscious fruits which grow in such profusion in the "Golden State."  The wild flowers of California are varied and beautiful, vying in loveliness with the treasures of the florist. In spring and early summer, fields and even mountain sides present for miles the appearance of one vast garden. Cultivated flowers also, roses, oleanders, geraniums, and many other choice varieties, here attain unusual size and perfection, and in many places bloom throughout the year.

The climate varies greatly in the different parts of the State, and Nature with lavish hand bestows upon the husbandman the choicest fruits of every zone. Besides the apple, peach, pear, nectarine, quince, grape, etc., such semi-tropical fruits as oranges, figs, citrons, olives, almonds, and pomegranates, are produced in great abundance, while along the southern coast the pineapple, banana, plantain, and cocoa-nut flourish. Much of the fruit is shipped to other States and countries, but to appreciate its delicate flavors it must be eaten where it grows, and not long after it has left the parent stem.

The fruit-trees of California grow much more rapidly, and bear much earlier, than those of the Atlantic States, and are not so subject to early decay. Especially are the soil and climate adapted to the cultivation of the grape. The yield of the grape is larger, its freedom from disease greater, than in the most celebrated European vineyards. The product is seldom or never less than one thousand pounds per acre, and has been known to reach even twenty thousand pounds.

The most remarkable trees of California, the largest in the world, are those known as the Sequoia gigantea. These mammoth trees grow with a clear, straight stem, sometimes to the height of 400 feet, with a diameter of from 30 to 40 feet in large specimens. A tree of this kind, having been cut down, was proved by its concentric layers to be thirteen hundred years old. 

One of the most valuable varieties of timber is the redwood, which is straight-grained, free-splitting, durable, soft, and light, and of a rich, dark-red color. It grows in dense forests, often reaching 275 feet in height, with a diameter of 18 or 19 feet The growth of these trees in the State covers an area of 10,000 square miles. Among the most wonderful natural curiosities of the State, are its immense falls, the Yosemite, whose whole descent is 2,600 feet, but not all made at one leap. The water first falls over a granite ledge 1,600 feet high, then in a series of cascades 600 feet, and finally makes it last plunge of 400 feet. Then there are the Nevada Falls, 700 feet high, the Vernal, the Bridal Veil, besides many others.

And here the tourist finds those curious springs, where, prepared by the hand of Nature somewhere in the depths of the earth, are boiling up hot and cold water, chicken broth, hot lemonade, ink, and many other strange substances. Soda enters so largely into the composition of one spring that the water is used instead of yeast or baking powder in the manufacture of bread; flour mixed with it rises well and quickly. It is said that there are places where the fisherman, after having caught his fish, may, without moving, cast it into a hot spring, and bring it out done to a turn and ready for eating.

But lack of space prevents a further mention of these wonders of California. Pen cannot justly describe them. To be appreciated, they must be seen. To the lover of the beautiful, the marvelous, and the sublime, this privilege is one of the most precious of his life, and one which all who can, should enjoy.


J. W. B.