None of us alive today are old enough to remember the original San Francisco gold rush in the 1800s. However, there are a great many who might soon become involved in the modern-day version of it.
Yes, another California gold rush is upon us. And people from all over are clamoring to get their very own nugget of gold.
Now, to be sure, this gold rush is nothing like it was way back when, in the days when new and equally desolate mining towns sprung up every week, quickly populating the hills of California and other western states.
But it’s still something gold seekers everywhere are taking note of.
According to long-time gold hunter Terry Prebalick, it’s all thanks to California’s abnormally wet winter.
As he told the San Francisco Chronicle, “The only people who like big floods are gold miners.” And California had quite a few of those this past winter.
If you know much about mining, you understand that natural disasters such as floods or just heavy rains can move a lot of dirt. And that means the gold is moved too. Back during the original gold rush days, men came together to create high-powered water techniques to quickly move dirt and rocks, possibly unearthing gold flakes and nuggets, according to the New York Times.
The working theory is that flooding and heavy rains do the same. And since areas in California experienced much of this over the past winter, the hope is that a lot of gold may now be available for the finding.
As Jim Eakin of Placerville says, “Anytime you can stand next to a river, and you hear the boulders moving, you know the gold is moving too.” According to him, those moving boulders brought him to a single gold nugget worth enough that he went out and bought a new Ford F150. Of course, he’s not saying where exactly that nugget was found.
And he’s not the only one finding more gold than they ever have.
Mark Dayton, a regular at the Gold Country Treasure Seekers club, says he’s seen more gold on display in the last two club meetings than in the previous two years. According to him, over $50,000 was on display during the last one alone. Dayton, himself says he’s found about $750 in gold in the past month.
The club’s president, Tony Watley, says he’s filled with excitement about what the coming year will bring for those in the gold-seeking industry.
And a historian of the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma, Ed Allen, says there’s definitely a reason to be hopeful.
According to him, the earlier gold rushes in the state are estimated to have only unearthed about 10 to 15 percent of the gold in California. That means there’s much more to be found – and with each new flood or heavy downpour, the chances of just that increase.
Now, thanks to state law, mining for gold no longer allows big machinery to move dirt. So most gold seekers either pan or dig, usually a bit of both. Basically, what it means is long hours in God’s great outdoors and away from the distractions of technology.
For parents like those of Sacramento high school student James Holifield, it’s a blessing. As his mom says, it’s 1) a “low-investment” hobby and 2) gets him away from a screen.
Besides, with her son finding four gold flakes in just two hours, I imagine it’s a good way to pay for college.
Maybe California still has something going for it, after all.