Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gold! A drunkards' dream if I ever did see one.

Had hoped to find one particular photo of the sheer numbers of claims and how ungodly dangerous it must have been to have lived during that era but now we have the latest rush for fortunes and fame.

Not one for reality shows but with the ever diminishing faire of the TV wasteland I tuned in to the prospectors up there in Alaska "Gold Rush". A handful or two of down and outers scrape together the last bits of savings and head for the Klondike hoping to find the elusive mother lode. Had they bothered to check their history it's almost a certainty that they'd dawn a paper hat and make more at a McDonalds. But that's what greed will do to a man and a few gals too. What they fail to realize is that the folks who made it big in the original gold rush can be counted on less than one hand. A boat pulled into Seattle back in the 1800s with a couple hundred pounds of the shiny metal and soon every idiot from Florida to Maine was headed west to seek his fortune. But the real gold wasn't found where men's thoughts and dreams were focused on buying a mansion and his own royal coach but in selling these adventure seekers all the provisions to get there. It's one of the reasons Seattle exists to this very day. Back then you either toiled in the timber forests or worked you rear off building a railroad. But the real money was to be made selling these dreamers the sundries necessary for their long journey to the god forsaken north country. Exactly how they managed to haul over a ton of goods up mountains and across valleys all by hand is a wonderment. It's all but certain that the enterprising salesmen who accommodated them were more than willing to take advantage of some ignorant slob from Bumshoe, Tenn who'd never mined anything in his life. It's a bet that those who mined coal back in them parts of Tennessee thought they'd have the jump on everybody until the realization that gold is a far cry from coal even though they are both mined.

Glassy eyed dreamers with gold fever to this day seek out things they should leave be. Just because you read a couple of books on the subject will never make you an expert. But it sure is fun to watch people making fools of themselves. There's probably more gold in uncle Harry's molar than what they'll find in a season. But what amazes me is that none of these brainiacs is smart enough to take a systematic approach to their search. They seem to rush right in and get to digging without once thinking about the earth science involved or how to establish a game plan. What did Ben Franklin say? "If I had nine hours to cut down a tree I'd spend eight of them sharpening the axe." Or something to that effect.

It's a safe bet that the bulk of the big nuggets have long been found and what remains is sacttered so thin upon this planet that it would take the disturbing of the better part of our land masses to recover it. It's called the law of diminishing returns. At some point it costs more in equipment and manpower than what can be extracted. But don't let me spoil your caviar dreams boys. You just keep right on digging. We'll just sit here and laugh.  


S.W. Anderson said...

Gee, at first I thought that must've been what things were like before ski lifts. :)

Gold will always attract people. It's in our human genes, it seems. I think those who know where and how to pan for the stuff in streams probably have the most practical shot at getting somewhere, as small-scale operators.

However, there's a good case to be made that today's real "gold" is silicon, and of course the gray matter to make it pay.

BBC said...

Gold gets you sex, that's how sick this planet is.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Well, it gave them something to do and kept them a far away from the zoos and circuses, which were achievements in themselves.

BBC said...

I'm going fishing..

Catch ya later....

The Blog Fodder said...

An acquaintance of mine in the late 70s had a claim in the area of the Barkerville good rush in BC. He used a tractor and front end loader to dig gravel which he then washed for gold. He never got rich but he made pocket money on his summer vacation from his regular job. These modern prospectors may still find a little colour. I don't understand the mentality that creates the rush. I agree, selling stuff to them was where the money was.

Demeur said...

Sw probably more gold in the ski lifts now.

Billy of course with all the gold diggers we have now.

Gorilla we wouldn't want to lower the IQ at the zoo now would we?

Billy enjoy it while you can. Overfishing is nothing to laugh about either.

Fodder problem there is the cost of maintaining all the equipment and the gas prices. I hear BC's prices are higher than ours now.