Monday, November 14, 2011

Prospecting in the Sierra Nevadas


Today's picture shows a prospector in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The picture was taken in 1866. The man is using a Rocker Box to help in the prospecting. Perhaps some of our Gold Bugs on the site can better explain what a Rocker Box does. I do not completely understand what a white picket fence is doing in the background. 

8 comments:

  1. He looks rather like a rogue.

    Maybe he is prospecting in his front yard and that would explain the fence. Seriously, maybe it was for safety or to keep people out, but that doesn't make anymore sense that prospecting in his yard.

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  2. The fence may been at his cabin where the stream was. He may have a tunnel (hard rock mining) and he brings the ore down to the stream to process.
    The rocker box is used to sperate the rocks and stones from the ore when you don't have much water to work with. As you notice the stream is kind of small.
    It is called a rocker box because he will rock it side to side as he pours water on the ore to wash any tiny bits of gold off the rocks.
    He then will take the ore and pan it out at a later time. When he is satisfied that he has washed the rocks good enough, he wil dump the top box out and refill it with more rough ore and start to wash it.

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  3. I can explain the picket fence. This photo was taken in the town of Columbia, California. The town was a boom town of sorts with miners flocking to the city to mine the nearby deposits. By the 1860s, the gold had pretty much gone, but lesser deposits still existed under the area that the town was built, so excavation began within city limits. Within a short time of this photo more lucrative finds left the town a remnant of its former self. Today, Columbia is a cute State Historic Park focused on the Gold Rush era.

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  4. Here's another view of placer mining in Columbia, California, with picket fences:
    http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002717176/

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  5. Thanks, Nate. So, maybe it really is his front yard!

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  6. I was going back and forth between this picture and Nate's and I believe it is the same box in front of the same fence. The barrel is there too!

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  7. Patricia is right! The bottom boards along the fence match as well. Good find!

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