"A mine is a hole in the ground with a liar standing next to it, down which you throw money." - attributed to Mark Twain
The San Bernadino Sun reports that one of the worst droughts in California history, one that is forecast to bring dangerous wildfires this summer, has had another surprising effect in the Sierra Nevada mountains near Colfax, Califormia. People are showing up in droves to pan for gold in the foothills areas.
Apparently, low water levels are exposing ground areas that have not been accessible since the gold rush days of the 1800's. Hobbyist prospectors are buying equipment and heading out toward areas like the Bear River with hopes of striking it rich.
“With the drought going on, we’re able to dig in more locations that wouldn’t be accessible at later times,” said Tim Amavisca.
Amivasca has been able to prospect in areas that are normally under water. “If you see a good-sized flake, that’s when you get excited,” said Amavisca.
The lowered water levels have even revealed an old mining town called Mormon Island that had long been submerged.
Some avid amateur prospectors are quick to point out, however, that these gold rush participants don't have much hope of actually getting rich off what they may find around Bear River.
"It's called placer gold, and it is fun to find," remarked one reader who goes by the username Bubba. "Most everyone will find some if they go to the places known for finding it. You won't get rich and will spend more on GAS and the day trip than any gold you find."
However, as another reader points out, even that is not such a bad deal.
"Only 1% of those who venture into the Gold Prospecting Hobby will ever find enough gold to actually turn a profit from the expenses involved in this pastime," says Just Moi. "But you could add several years to your life by being outdoors, being more physically challenged and by being away from your computer desk. Eureka!"
Image via Wikimedia Commons