|Once the immigrants arrived in San Francisco they quickly made their way the up to Sacramento and then out to the mines. However, they soon discovered that the life of a the miner during the Gold Rush was not as glamorous as they thought and hoped or as later images, such as the two eloquent paintings above, suggest. Miners had to deal with the harsh realities of what they now faced. The abundance of placer gold, or the easier mined gold, was quickly diminishing and the mountains were becoming more and more crowded. It was quickly becoming a struggle to find un-mined land or enough space to have adequate mine able land. Living in the isolated mining towns, where nature held the upper hand, miners were in constant fear of physical danger, illness from the bad food or harsh environment and miserable living conditions, and they ultimately feared death. Even more, the miners also had to deal with the loneliness and homesickness from being away from their family and the cities. Above all mining was hard and laborious. The conditions were rough and the weather could spell disaster for the mining camps. Camps were constantly being thrown up and then later taken down when deposits of gold dwindled. The miners had to some how cope with these problems. In the attempt to create a community, in order to make survival possible, a unique lifestyle evolved from these mining communities. There was a lot of dancing and singing and playing amongst the camps in order to deal with stress and loneliness. Many people kept correspondence with their family back home. Many people also turned to gambling and drinking. Saloons, and gambling houses flourished in the mining towns and camps. Competition and discrimination and tensions (often resulting in fighting) were also a part of the miners life as gold became harder to mine and crime became more prevalent. Thus, some of the earliest legal problems in California resulted. This too, was yet another problem that had be dealt with in the mining towns.|
To better understand the way the miners lived
it is helpful to understand the techniques
that they used to mine the gold. All of the
The easiest and simplest way of mining was
the "panning" method. However, it did prove to be physically
exhausting as the
The next step up in mining, or the more advanced
method was mining with a "rocker" or "cradle".
This device resembled, in looks the furniture that it was named
after, the "cradled". Larger amounts of soil could
be shoveled into the "cradle" and then rocked back
and forth by one or two men. Much like the panning method, but
on a larger scale, gold was sifted to the bottom of the "cradle".
Further up in mining production level, the
"Long Tom" was used. This was a rocker that was lengthened
into a trough. A steady stream of water was sent through the
trough while two men shoveled soil into the trough. One end of
the long trough was narrower. At this end one man would help
stir the soil before it was sifted through racks. Since, groups
of men were needed for both the "Long Tom" and the
"cradle" formal and informal companies were established.
Regardless of the technique used mining was intense and hard work. Miners tended to be very impatient. Once they felt they mined all the gold from an area, or if gold was not found relatively quickly, they moved on to another site. Rarely was gold just stumbled upon. As time passed, gold became even harder to find. Deep mining was then required. Deep mining was even more difficult. To mine this gold miners had to dig huge tunnels and trenches, and they needed large amounts of water to assist in the mining. This is when aqueducts and hydraulicking and quartz mining were developed.
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