Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"In a cavern, in a canyon, excavating for a mine.
Lived a miner forty-niner, and his daughter Clementine.
Oh my darling, oh my darling. Oh my darling, Clementine,
You were lost and gone forever, dreadful sorrow, Clementine."
~ American Traditional, 1884
Well I'll be hornswaggled! Today in 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in California, beginning the Great California Gold Rush! According to estimates, more than 300,000 people came to the territory seeking their fortunes! Major gold rushes took place in the 19th century in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, South Africa and the United States, with smaller gold rushes elsewhere. The San Francisco football team, the 49ers, is named for the number of gold-seekers and merchants that arrived in the area, hailing from all over the globe in 1849. Many colourful gold mining terms and expressions are now part of the language, such as "hitting paydirt" and a "flash in the pan." Feel free to use them today, Dadburn it!
A Glint of Gold
For "Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day, " a historic nod to events near the home of the Red Thistle Dancers in California's San Francisco Bay Area, we tie a dance to the discovery of gold on January 24, 1848, by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in the heart of "Gold Country."
The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) was a period in American history which began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The news of gold brought some 300,000 gold-seekers (called "forty-niners", as in "1849") to California. While most of the newly arrived were Americans, the Gold Rush also attracted some tens of thousands from Latin America, Europe, Northern Britain, Cornwall, Australia, and Asia.
Because the gold in the California gravel beds was so richly concentrated, early forty-niners were able to retrieve loose gold flakes and nuggets with their hands, or simply "pan" for gold in California's rivers and streams, a form of placer mining. Fortunes were made and lost, both on prospecting for gold itself, and for supplying the many gold-seekers with tools and equipment. By 1850, California had become a state.
The term "Forty-Niners" lives on in name of the American Football team and in the classic Western folk ballad, "Oh My Darling Clementine."
"Near a cavern, across from a canyon,
Excavating for a mine,
Lived a miner, forty-niner
And his daughter Clementine
Oh my Darling, Oh my Darling,
Oh my Darling Clementine.
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine."
For more on the California Gold Rush click on the pan of gold and make yourself a "Gold Rush" cockail - a ginger variation on a whisky sour.
And to add authenticity to your speech when talking like a Grizzled Prospector, check out some useful phrases here.