Carrying on the Legacy
By Charles P. Watson
Andrew sat by the side of the stream looking at his mining equipment – a sluice box, a few pans and screens, a pick and shovel, and several five-gallon buckets. He looked at the one-ounce vial that he took out of his pocket. “Almost full”, he thought. One more day and he would have to get another vial. A smile came across his face and he leaned his tired body against a large pine tree. He looked upward at the blue sky between the branches and thought of his grandparents and proud they would be of him.
Andrew’s grandparents emigrated from Europe in the late 1800s to look for a better life. The ruling classes were once again warring over the land and the little people were caught in the crossfire. Andrew’s family were miners, fortunately not working the underground mines, but the streams and rivers that carried the gold from the highlands.
Back then, the land and all the minerals belonged to the ruling families. It was the perfunctory way for life that had existed for thousands of years. If you found any gold, it belonged to them. Andrew’s grandparents worked a deal out with the ruling family where they could keep a half of what they found. Although not much, it was enough to buy food and other supplies to keep their family alive – that is as long as they found enough gold.
One summer the ruling family changed the terms of their mining arrangement and they now wanted 75 percent of the gold. Times got hard and they had to work twice as hard to make ends meet. The next year, the ruling family changed how much of the land his family could mine, essentially cutting the area in half. However, the ruling family insisted his family still pay the same amount of gold they had gotten the previous year as well. Andrew’s family struggled to make ends meet. The work was hard and the gold was just not paying as it did before.
At the end of the year, this family came up short and they did not make their “quota”. The ruling class was furious and kicked them off the land. They packed their things and as they were leaving, they heard the ruling class struck a deal with the town’s people that they could use the land for their enjoyment as long as they abided by one condition; they did not mine the gold. The town’s people made the land into a park and charged a concession fee from the visitors to learn about the historic miners of years past. Of course, the ruling family got their generous share of the concessions, which was more than what Andrew’s grandparents were providing in gold. [Note: The State of California is currently doing similar tactics with miners today]
Andrew’s family heard of the mining opportunities in America and of the gold rush in California. They heard of the Mother Lode, a rich belt of gold-rich gravels in the foothills of the Sierra. It was a risk, but they had to take it. With all they could carry they made their way across the Atlantic and became United States citizens – a story not unlike many other Americans.
Once in America, their bad luck continued and they ran out of money and were forced to settle down and secure working jobs on the east coast. Their mining dreams and history was lost.
When Andrew was born, his grandparent’s skills and knowledge were nearly a thing of the past. But there was this burning desire, this passion that kept an old dream alive. Now as an American citizen, Andrew could have his own mining claim, he could mine for gold and keep it all. He does not have to share it with the ruling class. What he found he could keep. It was truly a dream come true! His family would once again pursue their natural skills, to use their hands and live off the land free of someone telling them what to do.
With the little savings he had, he finally said enough with his working job, packed up his belongings and headed west to California. He consulted a mining geologist and reviewed a few good claims, then settled on one that was on a remote gold-bearing creek in the mountains of Plumas County. He bought some simple mining supplies and made a camp. The very next day, he ran his first sluice box of material and found some gold! Not much, but it was a start. Like his grandfather, he would have to work hard to fill his vials with gold, sell it and continue his family’s legacy.
Many people are a lot like Andrew, but lack the spirit and tenacity to pursue that dream, that burning desire. Not sure where to start? Where to go? What to do? No worries, just follow your heart and it will take you exactly where you are supposed to be – mining in the mountains for gold! You already know that there is no other place you would rather be.
Gold mining is not a new thing. It is something in our blood – something that we feel is right. Today’s miners are smarter than ever before. They have better tools to recover the precious metal and the wisdom to work with Mother Nature. Today’s miners are responsible citizens and reclamation is part of their mining process.
It is a thrill to find your first gold speck, flake or nugget. Once you do, you will be hooked forever. It is fun for the whole family and who knows, maybe, just maybe, if you are a wee bit lucky… you too, will jump for joy, click your heels, and shout “Eureka! I found it!”
Charles P. Watson is the chief geologist at Advanced Geologic Exploration, Inc. located in Chester, California. He is an expert on gold exploration, mining, permitting, and a mining history buff as well. He can be reached at [email protected] or at
Advanced Geologic locates and sells high quality gold mining claims. They also provide superior mining and geologic consulting, and can assist you with all your mining and permitting needs. The gold rush is on! Contact them and claim your fortune!