One Talented Miner

 (Idaho miner and artisan Gary Thomas.)

I admit I'm a bit remiss about finally getting a post like this in Bedrock Dreams, but as long as the job gets done now my foot dragging in the past doesn't matter I guess. In the seven plus years I've been at this blog, I've come to know and admire some very good people who are extremely talented not only as small-scale miners, but as business people, inventors, and artists and artisans. Idaho miner Gary Thomas is one of these folks.

Most of you will know Gary by blog comments under his chosen moniker, "Muskrat." Gary hits the gold-bearing mountain streams of his neck-of-the-woods in Idaho whenever he can and has also been know to prowl an old lode mine or two when the spirit moves him. Like many small-scale gold miners, Gary typically operates on a very small budget with basic tools and gear, but whatever he might lack in fancy equipment he makes up for in sheer determination, will power, and plain old hard work. Like myself (and many of you), Gary is a student of Western mining history and the Old West in general. He's a multifaceted and multi-talented individual whose physical appearance reminds me of the grizzled sourdoughs of old! But in Gary's case that's exactly who he is and not a put-on act meant to stir some photo-snapping tourist's imagination. Gary's the real thing and you can take that to the bank with you.

(Gary and his Missus.)

Gary's talents lie in many directions, but one area he is extremely talented in is leather work. Unless I miss my bet or some of you are totally blind, the saddle photos in this blog post point that talent out as clearly as can be. This saddle is a piece of commission work from, of all things, an Amish man in Ohio. There's no doubt it demonstrates Gary's skill with leather. There's true artistry in Gary's leather work and I've been the proud recipient of that artistry. Not along ago Gary sent me a couple of hand-made gifts as his way of thanking me for my work with Bedrock Dreams over the years...a new leather gold poke (pouch) and a mirror with a beautifully tooled leather frame around it that included the name of this blog, Bedrock Dreams. Unfortunately, I don't have photos of those items on this computer but I'll try to resolve that oversight soon so you can see other examples of Gary's exceptional talent.

 (Here's the first of three views of Gary's commission work in progress.)

(Gary with the finished saddle.)

Beyond his obvious skill and artistry with leather, Gary is a down-to-earth guy with a keen mind and a big heart. Like myself, he doesn't suffer fools (or forest "nazis"!) easily and isn't afraid to brush aside the politically correct BS and tell it the way he sees it. He's an independent spirit who personifies what I love about small-scale mining and small-scale miners.

What more can I say except I'm proud to call him my friend.

(If you'd like to talk with Gary about mining or about his leather work, he can be reached at the following e-mail address:

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2015

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. THANK YOU JIM! Yep that's my wife Cindy......25 years this April. Gary

  2. Very nice leather work Muskrat!


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