Those who followed their dreams to the bottom of a stream in the Sierras found themselves confronted with hard work, harsh weather, and a rapidly diminishing supply of gold. The efforts, tools and equipment required to get at the gold which remained quickly became more elaborate.
These mining scenes reflect the diversity of the people who sought their fortunes in the gold fields of California. They also depict the variety of tools and techniques used in the first months and years of prospecting. There is a Chinese mining camp, an arrastra being worked by a Sonoran, a Miwok woman washing gold with a basket, a pair of miners working a coyote hole, and miners working a long tom, who have been visited by a woman selling pies. As California flooded with people from around the world, the easy surface gold was quickly skimmed.
Suddenly the streams were crowded, and competition became stiff. Tensions, conflicts and discrimination/racism intensified, along with a few nuggets of gold.
Top: Batea c. 1850, Collection of Oakland Museum
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