I had a delightful e-mail from a Junior High Student in Calif. that wanted to know, what was it like to be a prospector.
I hope that you enjoy it. I think that the best way to let you know what it was like to be a prospector, is let one of them tell you. This is from the Rhyolite Herald Newspaper, December 16, 1908. Not the picture, the story! It was nothing for a prospector
to walk 40, 50 even 100 miles to get to his claim, to search for a new prospect. They were a hardy brew of men, non like was ever seen or ever shall be seen again.
TRIALS OF A PROSPECTOR
The evening before starting for a fifty-mile trip we stopped at Tipapah. After eating our supper we made our beds on the soft side of mother earth and turned in with all our clothes on, including our overcoats, as the weather was
At the first peep of day we were up, and found about six inches of snow on our bed. The snow, however had ceased falling and we lost no time in cooking our breafast and packing our burros. Our trail for the trip would lead us over two
mountain ranges, and the thought of getting lost in a mountain snow storm did not tend to make us feel very jubilant. We had two passes to climb before we would be on our down grade for home. We knew that even if we pushed very hard it would be impossible for
us to get beyond the second pass before nightfall and have a little time to make camp for the night. should it snow so as to obliterate all landmarks we would have to trust to Providence, as the six inches of snow that had already fallen would obliterate
After leaving Tipapah about fifteen minutes it began to snow, and as we descended into the valley it turned into rain. Our overcoats soon became soaked and too heavy to wear; so we packed them on the burros and walked gloomily along, hoping
that the storm would soon pass and leave our other clothes dry. Instead of the rain ceasing, it took a fresh hold and poured down such as only a mountain storm can possibly do. As the burros were in good condition and feeling good, we made the first pass in record
time and proceeded down in the next valley, where the rolling hills seemed to moderate the weather, and in the meantime it stopped raining. Our clothes by this time could not have been wetter if we would have taken a bath in a river.
We then had our first opportunity to see
where we were. From the landmarks we made out about where to hit the pass, and started up a long draw. A cold north wind began to blow, and soon the snow began to fall. in a short time the trail was covered and the burros began to see-saw from one side to to the
other. My partner then went ahead to pick out a trail for them to follow. As it was about time to eat, we concluded not to stop, but push along and eat our sandwiches moving, as we certainly would have frozen had we stood still.
Dear reader, did you
ever try to "punch" burros and eat at the same time? It is dee-lightful. You take a mouthful, a couple of chews, and then yell at one of the burros in this fashion: "Hike there, Brownie, blue you! Get in the trail!" Pick up a stone and throw it at the leader.
A couple more chews, then:"Blackie, you--!" now, my dear reader, don't get shocked. I know when I pass over on the other side and look over the records of my early career that I will find that my recording angel was busy reading a detective story while I was
The more tired they became the more urging was required. it was then that I tried to recall all the languages that I had heard "mule skinners" use, and all of them proved useful, and the more tired I became the thicker the language.
Twinges of rheumatism began to be felt in different parts of my body. Burros were getting slower. Stones were thrown harder with every twinge. As we neared the top of the pass we ecountered a regular blizzard. It was impossible to see the leader. We finally
reached the top. My partner stopped and yelled back that he could not make out which way to go. "Go down and that --quick!" was the answer.
After an hour of descending the snow again, turned into rain. Our bedding was all wet, and no wood with the exception of
wet brush with which it would have been impossible to start a fire. It would have been impossible for us to camp out for the night. The only thing we could do was to keep moving until we came to some tent, or to drop exhausted on the road. It soon became dark, with a
black sky to help cast us further into the gloom. Our tired limbs soon began to falter. A pebble would make us stumble. Still on we had to go. It seemed hours before we finally saw a light in the distance, and hours more before we came to the light. Here we found
friends, who unpacked the burros, gave us a hot supper and a nice warm bed.
We had covered forty miles. How would you like the experience? Did you say that I will never try it again? Oh, yes; I will go back next month again. it is only a part of the life of the
pioneer prospector. Hundreds have had worse experiences and still live, following the same old life.
for more information or broken links. Thank You