|The beginnings of this process are probably as old as the earth. Moving earth with water is commonly referred to as erosion. If free-flowing water can create land erosion, then the Hydro-Excavation process can be called controlled erosion. Some of the first documented cases of this took place in California by the gold rushers in the mid- to late-1800's. A common practice was to use steam pump-pressurized water to erode land masses, and then screen the slurry to capture the gold. This process is referred to as Hydraulic Mining. The severe environmental impact still effects our water today.
The physical labor used to mine the gold was often subject to unsafe conditions, unshored/unsloped pits, cave-ins were prevalent and unfortunately, so were deaths.