Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mariposa: Gold Rush Town

Mariposa, CA --  If you were near the small Gold Rush town of Mariposa in 1849, you would have seen over 3,000 gold seekers from around the world, peering at every pebble in Mariposa Creek.   Mariposa was the southernmost mine during the Gold Rush.  The first gold was mined near where it was found—the American River.  Mythical stories of picking up gold nuggets while walking near the water’s edge are epic.  Here, the operation wasn’t placer, but rather subterranean—deep shafts tunneled into the Earth to depths of 200 feet.   On display at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum a few miles out of town near the Fairgrounds is the Fricot “Nugget,” a rare and beautiful specimen of crystallized gold discovered in the American River in 1864 weighing almost 14 pounds. This specimen is the largest remaining intact mass of crystalline gold from the 19th century.  The value? Two million dollars.  Go west young man, go west.

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