Gold, Gold, Gold, Gold

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.

Don’t miss this place if you are traveling through Grass Valley, California.   IMG_1884

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.

IMG_1909Evidently kids in the area used it as a giant ferris wheel after the mines closed until the city immobilized it in the 1950’s.


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.


This machine was used for making dynamite.  The nitroglycerin was mixed with sawdust which stabilized the explosives.  IMG_1892

 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.IMG_1895This 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 Skip, as it was called, was used to haul the men up and down into the mines.


This photo shows how the men were crammed into the Skip.

These are the men going down into the mine for work. Some are actually smiling.
These are the men going down into the mine for work. Some are actually smiling.
My Favorite. A spunky, little miner's daughter.
My Favorite. A spunky, little miner’s daughter.