The Luck of The Old Time 49ers

Years ago a bunch of old 49ers got together to tell stories of the old days - here is one of those tales: Just at this point another old miner, a long lean specimen of antiquity from the State of Arkansas, and who had been asleep in the corner, now aroused up and remarked: “Well boys, that is a fact as Mike says, for 'tis now you do, and then again you don't; but I never told you boys how I got skunked once out of a good claim did I ? No, for I don't like to tell it, for it has such a smell that it makes me sick.

" But this is how I got left, by going a little too fur to the right or to the left, I never knew which." You see. it was down in Calaveras, along in the spring of 51, I took my gun one day, and went out a few miles among the hills on a hunt; well I come across a deep ravine that looked as though it might be tolerable rich; it never had been prospected much anyway, and I concluded to do a little panning jest for fun; there were' some boys livin' about two miles from this ravine that I knew, so I went over to their cabin, and borrowed a pick, pan and shovel, and I tell you that I struck it rich; I found the gravel about four feet deep to the bed rock, and I got as much as ten dollars to a pan.



After panning out about $75, I filled up the hole again, covered it over with brush, so as to make it look jest natural like, and started for home. "When I took home their borrowed tools, the boys wanted to know if I found anything over in that ravine where I was prospecting? I said no, nothing much ; but they were kinder suspicious from my looks that I had found good prospects; I hurried home, and made up my mind to get my tools, mining notice and everything ready, and start out early in the morning before daylight for my rich ravine.

" Well I was on the way out thar about daylight the next morning, and I went around another way, so them chaps that I borrowed their tools from wouldn't see me.

" When I had got almost to their ravine, in crossing over a hill, I jest ran afoul of a big skunk right in their trail, I tried to git around him, but he walked right up towards me, so I threw down my tools, picked up some rocks, and went for him; but, somehow or other, I couldn't hit him, and he jest kept on drivin' me back down their hill, but I picked up a big club and laid him out cold, after foolin' away more than an hour trying to kill that odoriferous cuss; then I took up my tools and hurried over that hill down into my rich ravine.



"But I tell you, boys, jest as soon as I come in sight of it I was mad clean through, now you bet, for right down thar on my rich claim, and hard at work, was them chaps that I had borrowed ther tools of; they had got ahead of me, while I was foolin' around with that skunk, and he’d taken up the whole ravine. I tried to reason with them fellers, told them that I had sunk a hole there the day before, and had therefore aright to it; they wanted me to jest show them where I had sunk a prospect hole, so I went to their pile of brush, and says I  right thar, they said that no hole had ever been dug thar at all, so I jest kicked away their brush to show 'em, and I'll be dolgerned, if thar wasn't a slate ledge right under it; them boys had moved that brush either to the right, or a little to the left, so I couldn't tell where that spot was myself, and thet's how I got skunked out of a rich claim."



Return To: California Gold Rush: True Tales of the 49ers



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