Gold Rush Glimpses III Video


DEJA VU—Sounds of the Gold Rush

Standing alone on a hillside, gazing down at what’s left of a Sierra mining camp, you hear the wind sigh through the pines as you glance at a crumbling stone wall, stubbornly defying time, as long as it can.

It is part of the nostalgic spirit, clinging to the once bustling diggings, where water still gushes over and around the stream’s rocks, just like it did back then. You wonder about the rush of hopeful miners, scrambling after their share of riches, working in icy water from sunup to sunset. “Wonder what it sounded like?” you think as your mind drifts away.

Before dawn, a miner’s snoring like a trombone inside his tent, while a rooster crows outside. But it’s not long before the dozens of eager prospectors take their spots by the river and begin feverishly searching for their fortunes. You can hear the clinking of pickaxes, the grating of shovels, the rattle of gold pans, the rocking of cradles and the splashing of water all around.

When a lucky miner finds some gold, he may let out a triumphant shriek or say nothing at all, in hopes of finding more before his secret isn’t.

Throughout the day, there’s continual clatter as stones and mud splatter in all directions. Come sundown, sounds change as miners fade away and campfires poke holes in the darkness, while gold-seekers “scratch” a few lines to distant loved ones and weary souls speak softly about their hopes and hurts. Suddenly, a coyote cuts loose with a piercing cry before the noise of chirping crickets and buzzing mosquitoes return. Later, cursing is heard as a couple drunks stumble by, triggering the repetitious barking of a suddenly awakened dog.

These scenes and sounds repeat themselves, day after day after day, until Sunday, when the diggings are both restful and roaring as most miners take a break from the drudgery to relax by their tents or become part of the excitement on the camp’s main street.

“Come on in gentlemen. Earn your pile,” beckons a card dealer on the corner. “Step right up and get your bargains while they last, gents,” bellows an auctioneer, as he competes for your attention. Standing nearby, a traveling preacher suggests to passersby that they join him for the gospel at noon. A loud commotion up the street draws stares as a group of bearded miners “whoop it up,” coming to celebrate their good fortune. They don’t care if they squander their new found gold. They can go dig up some more. Just then, the loud screech of a bluebird startles you, cutting short your thoughts, as you hear the wind sigh through the pines, just like it did back then.


Note: Craig MacDonald’s grandfather was a Sierra miner. Some of the camps he prospected in have totally disappeared. Several others are about to. Many more have been urbanized and overrun, never again to look like they once did. If you want to experience the awesome feelings and emotions of “returning to the Gold Rush,” we recommend you stop by one of the remaining spots that haven’t changed much over the years. To locate them, read SIERRA HERITAGE Magazine, contact historical societies, libraries, bookstores and do research on the Internet. Enjoy them while you can. Happy Trails!



Gold Rush Glimpses III, part of a popular series of books from author Craig MacDonald, has been featured in numerous media outlets.