Not Sure What I'm Trying to Say...
I always think it good to take a short break when we're dealing with a long post series and I still have much ground to cover with the post series on lode gold mines. So this post represents that short break and after it's done we'll get back to all the ins and outs of lode gold mines.
Everything in Its Own Time and Place
As most of you know, I was born and raised in California...the once-Golden State. Despite the fact I came screaming and kicking into this world in the East Bay Region of the San Francisco Bay Area, I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley abut 50 miles south of where California's Southern Motherlode Region ends. Despite the fact I lived in close proximity to good gold areas (I even lived for a brief time in Yreka...smack dab in the middle of the Klamath gold country before moving back to the Valley) there was no one in my family (on either side) to show me the ropes in terms of gold panning, prospecting, or mining. All that came much later. Everything happens in its own time and place I guess.
(The American River...where it all started.)
The End Result?
I've seen some statistics online recently suggesting that California is one of the worst states to live in nowadays. There are numerous reasons for this and I need not belabor that point. But one thing I can say is that whatever California's problems are, they have manifested themselves all too clearly in many areas, including small-scale gold mining...our thing..the thing we love to do. I find this fact both disconcerting and somewhat hypocritical since it was gold and gold mining that made California the great state it once was in the first place. Yes, I've ranted and raved in the past here in Bedrock Dreams about California's left-leaning policies and its proclivity toward taxing the hell out of the middle and blue collar classes to fund its multitude of social welfare programs. But most of all I've gone on tirades about its restrictive approach to small-scale mining and miners, including that big environmentalist nightmare known as suction dredging. Now that nightmare isn't our perception of reality...it's a perception created by the ignorant and the agenda-driven. The end result? No more suction dredging in great gold-bearing rivers like the Yuba, American, and Klamath. Or anywhere else for that matter.
(Here's a quote for you: "Fish, not gold! The Wild Steelhead Coalition thinks it's time for Washington State to show the same leadership Oregon and California have. Hit the pause button on suction dredging!")
Sure there are ways of getting around California's suction dredging ban and other restrictive measures the state has taken against small-scale gold miners. You can still pan, sluice, highbank in certain contexts, snipe or crevice, or run a dry washer out in the deserts. That said, however, I wonder how long it will be until these small-scale mining methods will also be looked at with jaundiced eyes by the once-Golden State's inept politicos and petty bureaucrats. Meanwhile, the two largest cities in the state have tens of thousands of homeless camped out in tents and cardboard boxes on downtown streets and in nearby ravines, ditches, and along frontage roads with catastrophic results from the standpoints of sanitation, drug and alcohol abuse, and crime. Am I saying here that the homeless are all unclean, addicted, or driven to criminal activity? Absolutely not. But there is plenty of data out there to suggest that a certain (even hefty) percentage of them are mentally ill, addicted to various substances, and involved directly or peripherally with criminal activity...no matter how petty those crimes may be. You can even take the mentally ill, addictive, and criminal elements out of this equation and just imagine the sanitary aspects...the smell of urine and feces that many citizens of Los Angeles and San Francisco contend with each and every day. Yet those bastions of California's liberalism have, in essence, created their own Frankenstein monster. Just as the state at large has by its overall policy direction and lack of a bottom line when confronting tough issues.
(Market and Fifth Streets, San Francisco.)
I doubt if the old timers who dug in the creeks, gullies, and streams of the Motherlode would think much of California today. It may be a comparison of apples to oranges since all things and all people exist in a relative time and space. I believe the thing that would anger or dismay those old timers the most would be the overall lack of true freedom in pursuing their dreams of striking it rich or creating a better life for themselves and their families. Since its inception as a state, California has always drawn dreamers and to a great extent...the disaffected. The state was wide open back then and a guy or gal could claim his or her fair share of that golden dream through persistence and hard effort. Sadly, much of that early value-oriented ethic has diminished in California, only to be replaced by the largest welfare state in the nation (in my view, anyway). And who pays for all that social justice effort, those sanctuary cities, and the general dumbing down of the unwashed masses who now flock to the Golden State from every two-bit, Third World country on earth? Why you good, hard-working folks who still call California home. But this isn't just about you...it's about all of us here in the United States who work our jobs, obey the laws, and try to make things better for our loved ones. After all, we're the ones footing the bill.
Grapes of Wrath
Lest I be called "racist" in my views, you should know that my grandparents on my father's side came to this country (legally, I might add) from Northern Spain via Portugal and the Azore Islands right after World War 1. They ended up in the San Joaquin Valley of California where they pooled their meager savings, bought some land, and started a dairy farm. They never learned to speak English but they made it just the same through commitment, hard work, persistence, and patience. They never asked for anything other than the chance to pursue their own golden vision in California. On the other side, my mother's family had roots in Texas and Oklahoma, and arrived in California during the peak years of the Dustbowl and the Great Depression where, like many other "Okies" and "Arkies," they ended up picking fruit as migrant laborers. (You smug-ass social justice types take note. Yep. White folks as migrants.) They also lived in one of those ramshackle camps outside my home town known as "Hoovervilles" back then. If this sounds like Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, well you're spot on pard.
I'm not exactly sure what I'm trying to say in this post but perhaps it will resonate with one of you out there. There's one thing certain though. Give the wrong people enough time, power, and money and they'll fuck up the best of things.
Even someone's golden dream...
(c) Jim Rocha 2018
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org