Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!
Bright and yellow, hard and cold
Molten, graven, hammered and rolled,
Heavy to get and light to hold,
Hoarded, bartered, bought and sold,
Stolen, borrowed, squandered, doled,
Spurned by young, but hung by old
by Thomas Hood
The Pelton Wheel Museum in Grass Valley
This unassuming building holds a treasure trove of contraptions that were designed to rid Mother Nature of her gold.
This Pelton Wheel was the largest ever built. It’s 30 ft. in diameter and produced 1,000 horsepower as compressed air. It supplied power to two mines and mills. It was in use from 1898 until it was replaced by electricity in 1935.
The gold was extracted from the rock it was embedded in by a number of machines. This huge machine had weights that slammed down on the rocks to pulverize them. The noise was constant and could be heard up to three miles away. Evidently many of the operators lost their hearing.
It may be difficult to see but in the front are the tubes that were filled with the explosive material. The sawdust mixture is in the tray.This is an actual model of a Gold Dredge that was exhibited at a World’s Fair in order to sell these in other countries.
The Cornish Miners
My main interest lies in the people who worked and lived during these times. The miners were mainly Cornish. The Cornish have been mining for over a thousand years. They originally picked tin and copper from the ground and by the 15th century were mining deep in the ground. When gold and silver were discovered in the American West, the Cornish were recruited because they were considered the best miners in the world.
“Letter From Home”
This is what the miners called their lunch pail. The bottom was filled with tea and the middle with a pasty, which was a pastry filled with meat and potatoes. They would heat the entire pail with a candle and have hot tea and a warm pasty for the mid-day meal.
This photo shows how the men were crammed into the Skip.