From a creek not far from Greenville, Plumas County, CA
Butterflies and Gold!!
By Charles Watson
Preston woke up and looked outside. It was raining, not too hard – just steady. It was warm, likely in the 50°s, and he thought, “Humm… will be muddy out”. Roads will be slippery and dangerous for hauling supplies.” He got up and adjusted his overalls, opened the door and gazed outside at the rain. He sighed, “I still should be mining.”
He had pulled his small mining operation out of the high country a week ago. Now he was having second thoughts. Those early snows were just a quick reminder of what was to come, but it passed quickly. He felt that he panicked, called off the efforts too early. He mused he should still be up there, mining the pay. He had to bring in an income for his family. He hoped he made enough to last the winter.
Preston was a smart gold miner. A number of mentors taught him about gold mining, people who taught him the ropes. However, it all started with his dad taking him down to a creek one day. They dug in the bank under some tree roots, sifted out the large pebbles and gravel, and panned it down to the concentrates. Sure enough, there were some flakes of gold – not much, but it was shiny and very pretty. He remembered jumping for joy and hugging his dad, then running off to show his mother what he and dad had found.
Gold mining isn’t easy – it took skill, perseverance, and it was very hard work. One had to be rugged, willing to dig deep, not only within the rocks, but also within their soul. Preston not only had those skills but was resourceful. He had a family to feed, so his goals were simple, mine gold and provide for his family. Sometimes it was stressful, sometimes it was dangerous, and sometimes it was worth every ounce of sweat from his labors, especially when he sold his gold to the assayer’s office in town and brought home groceries for his family.
The puddles grew on the street as the rain continued to beat down. A horse-drawn wagon passed by headed out to the gold fields with another load of supplies for the miners. “I should be up there”, he thought. A few more ounces would have paid for some extra things for the family – even Christmas presents for the kids.
He turned and looked at his son who was tending the fire. At 8 years old, Jacob was nearing that age where he could go help at the mine. Not quite able to trust him with that kind of responsibility, however. Jacob was at that point where he would be easily distracted. One time he was told to fetch a bucket from the cabin and while on the way back, he saw a butterfly and was gone the rest of the day chasing pretty butterflies in the meadow.
Preston knew there would be a day Jacob would leave behind that little boy’s carefree attitude. Sure, Jacob liked finding gold, more likely because it was pretty and shiny, and not for it’s value. For Preston, gold paid for food, clothing, and other necessities – it was the essence of life as he knew it. Jacob wasn’t ready for those real-life demands, and Preston wanted to protect his son for as long as he could – let him be a boy just a little longer. Moreover, the hazards of the gold fields are no place for a young boy with his mind on butterflies. That day would just have to wait. Preston then thought about his father and that moment when he had that epiphany.
He turned from the door and said, “Jacob, where’s that gold pan I got you for your birthday? Is it nearby?” The boy ran to his room and took out the pan from under his bed. It was currently holding some of his toys, and he quickly dumped those on the floor and ran back to the living room. It was a steel pan and still was shiny; it only had been used a couple of times. There was a small dent on one side from where he slipped and fell on it one day when he was playing with it outside. He handed it to his dad, blushed, trying to hide the dent with his hand.
Preston took the pan and said, “That dent is just in the right spot. It’s going to catch the gold really well”. He put his arm around his son and said, “Let’s go down to the creek and pan for gold. Waddaya say?” Jacob squealed with excitement and got his coat. Preston slipped on his jacket, grabbed a pick, shovel, and a bucket, and the two men strolled out into the rain.
Spend quality time with your children and teach them the benefits of gold mining. Take them to the mountains and give them a chance to find some gold. It is a thrill when they find their first gold speck, flake, or nugget. Once they do, they will be hooked forever. And who knows, maybe, just maybe, if they are a wee bit lucky… they too, will jump for joy, click their heels, and shout “Eureka! I found it!”, and give their dad a big hug!
Charles P. Watson is the chief geologist at Advanced Geologic Exploration, Inc. located in Chester, California, with a field office in Tonopah, Nevada. 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 www.advancedgeologic.com
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!