California (source: Encyclopedia Britannica 1911 Edition)
The Feather, emptying into the Sacramento river about 20 M. N. of the city of Sacramento, is the most important tributary of the Sacramento river. A striking feature of the Sacramento system is that for 200 M. north of the Feather it does not receive a single tributary of any importance, though walled in by high mountains. Another peculiar and very general feature of the drainage system of the state is the presence of numerous so-called river " sinks," where the waters disappear, either directly by evaporation or (as in Death Valley) after flowing for a time beneath 'the surface. These " sinks " are therefore not the true sinks of limestone regions. The popular name is applied to Owen's lake, at the end of Owen's river; ' to Mono lake, into which flow various streams rising in the Sierra between Mount Dana and Castle Peak; and to Death Valley, which contains the " sink " of the Amargosa river, and evidently was once an extensive lake, although now only a mud-flat in ordinary winters, and a dry, alkaline, desert plain in summer. All these lakes, and the other mountain lakes before referred to, show by the terraces about them that the water stood during the glacial period much higher than it does now. Tulare lake, which with Buena Vista lake and Kern lake receives the drainage of the southern Sierra, shows extreme local variations of shore-line, and is generally believed to have shrunk extremely since 185o, though of this no adequate proof yet exists. In 1900 it was about zoo sq. m. in area. In wet seasons it overflows its banks and becomes greatly extended in area, discharging its surplus waters into the San Joaquin; but in dry seasons the evaporation is so great that there is no such discharge. The drainage of Lassen,Siskiyou and Modoc counties has no outlet to the sea and is collected in a number of great alkaline lakes. Finally along the sea below Pt. 'Conception are fertile coastal plains of considerable extent, separated from the interior deserts by various mountain ranges from 5000 to 7000 ft. high, and with peaks much higher (San Bernardino, 11,600; San Jacinto, 1o,800; San Antonio, 10,140). Unlike the northern Sierra, the ranges of Southern California are broken down in a number of places. It is over these passes—Soledad, 2822 ft., Cajon, San Gorgonio, 256o ft.—that the railways cross to the coast: That part of California which lies to the south and east of the southern inosculation of the Coast Range and the •Sierra e6mprises an area of fully 50,000 sq. m., and belongs to the Basin Range region. For the most part it is excessively dry and barren.