The boards slid on water flowing in the V-profile chute.
For those not familiar, the amazing thing about these constructions was that they could be dozens of miles long, crossing valleys on huge trestle bridges.
Reputed to be the longest, the Kings River Flume is said to have run 62 miles down to a town called Sanger, and to have been built in a year.
A bit of googling suggested flume gradients of about 1:200
The company that ran the Kings River Flume was also the one that chopped down many giant Redwood trees.
I have been to Kings Canyon, and there I learned that the logging companies lost money on every one of the huge, 1,000+ year old, redwoods that they cut.
Which reminds me, at one time the oldest tree ever found, a Bristlecone Pine in Nevada, was only found to be the oldest after researcher Donald Currey cut it down to count the rings. It was over 4,800.
Two older ones have been found since.
And, as I remember, Bill Bryson in one of his books mentions one species of fish that became extinct on the same day that it was discovered. The unique fish were found dead at the bottom of a stream that had been selected to have poison poured into its upper reaches for some reason or other.
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