My daughter just returned from a 4th grade field trip to the Sierra Nevadas to learn about the California Gold Rush. The program included a chance to pan for gold and before she left, I jokingly said that I expected her to come home with at least several ounces. Sadly, she didn't strike gold. It wouldn't have entirely been out of the realm of possibility though according to this fascinating Mel Magazine feature about lone prospectors like high school teacher Dan Hurd who is keeping the gold rush dream alive (and sharing his adventures on YouTube). From Mel:
The claim to mine this half-kilometer stretch of the Fraser (River in British Columbia) belongs to Hurd, and it's become a fast favorite of his. "I'm keeping this claim kind of secret because the amount of big gold I've found here is significant compared to any other claim," he tells me, describing a multi-gram nugget he picked up off the ground last year. "I've already pulled a half ounce of gold out of this claim, which, for a prospector, is a lot. That's around $900 Canadian."…
Hurd has found plenty of gold in his roughly two-dozen claims over the years, and uncovering several thousand dollars' worth of the metal in an annual season isn't unusual, though it takes a lot more time and failure than people expect, he jokes. "There's a lot of delusions of grandeur out there. A lot of people think they can go out there, spend a day and pull $1,000 of gold out of the ground," Hurd says. "I've done that once or twice, and those were really lucky days. I've had thousands of days I find nothing at all. It's hard to make a living on just finding gold."
"The Lone Prospectors Keeping the Legacy of the Gold Rush Alive" by Eddie Kim (Mel)