“There’s gold in them thar hills!” Samuel Clemmons, AKA Mark Twain, used the sentence in his book The American Claimant. Later it was used in a Western movie Destiny Rides Again. We have neither, but we have other books and movies about gold and gold rushes. Today was the day, February 28, 1849, that gold seekers began arriving in San Francisco for the California Gold Rush. Before that there was a gold rush in the Carolinas and in Georgia. There was even a gold mine on the property that is now Grandover in Greensboro. I have panned for gold in Alaska and at the Reed Gold Mine near Midland, NC. I wish I was related, but alas….
Frontier Grit: the Unlikely True Stories of Daring Pioneer Women was written by Marianne Monson and tells the stories of not-famous women who were influential in the development of the West. One story tells of Nellie Cashman, a Gold rush boomer who loved the pioneer life. This woman prospected for silver and gold all over North America, living her last decade in Alaska’s frozen north. She was friends with author Jack London who wrote the American classic Call of the Wild.
Call of the Wild is the fictional biography of a house pet Buck, stolen to be a sled dog during the Klondike Gold Rush. After his cruel kidnapper is drowned, this part-St. Bernard is loyal to Thornton until his kind master is killed. Then Buck leaves to join a pack of wolves, answering the call of the wild.
10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America is a DVD that has a segment about the California Gold Rush. This documentary shows tens of thousands of people taking the arduous journey west in hopes of striking it rich, of finding a gold vein. Gold fever was rampant in men, young and old. Women of ill-repute followed as needed. More books and stories have been written about them. Just type in “prostitutes” at your local library to read all about that aspect of the gold rush.
Gold Fever! is also a book for young people about the California Gold Rush. It began after James Marshall found a large nugget in a river while helping to build Sutter’s Mill. The book shows how people came from all over, by land and by sea, for a chance to get rich quick. Other businesses followed, helping to develop the territory.
You, too, can find treasure. Search our shelves at Jamestown Public Library for the illusive book that could change your life or way of thinking. Find a book that can help you sleep at night or keep you reading until 2 AM. Borrow a DVD that will make you laugh, cry, or clutch your loved ones in terror. Find your own treasure.