In the mid 1800’s, the California gold rush ushered in a new era of industry to the farming communities of the Sacramento Valley. This influx of people, capital, and technological innovation also brought with it significant pollution that nearly destroyed the agricultural value of the region. After decades of being inundated with debris cast off by the gold mining encampments operating upstream, local landowner Edward Woodruff brought suit seeking to enjoin the mining companies from discarding their debris into the area’s waterways. The decision that followed brought gold mining in the region to a halt and set the stage for the federal government to enter the field of environmental regulation. Though Woodruff v. North Bloomfield Gravel Mining Co. has largely been ignored, it marks a significant step toward the regime of environmental regulation that we know today.