Panning for Nuggets of Gold (and a Bit of History Too!)

My kids are so excited right now!  They spent their Sunday morning knee deep in icy river water, panning for gold.  And guess what, they discovered some!  Just some gold dust, really.  But it was enough to get them very excited, and enough to give them a glimpse of what it must have been like to be a Miner Forty-niner.

Unfortunately for me, I’m holding down the fort at home, grading papers and battling paperwork.  The rest of my family (wife, kids and Grandma) journeyed to Coloma, California to participate in the town’s annual Gold Rush Live event.  

They are spending the weekend learning about gold mining techniques, of course.  But they are also learning the stories of the many people who ventured to California, seeking their fortunes. My girls are rather familiar with the topic already, since we covered it in my daughter’s “O California” history book.  Also, we recently read a wonderful historical novel by Sid Fleishman, By The Great Hornspoon.  I highly recommend this kid-friendly book.  It’s very funny, yet offers a vivid depiction of life during the height of California’s gold frenzy.

Sure, the girls have read about it before.  But now, they get a chance to experience this world themselves.  They get to wander and explore the tent city:

And they get to interact with the many volunteers who assume various roles.  Much like a renaissance fair or a civil war re-enactment, this event features hundreds of folks who wear authentic clothing and really immerse themselves into their specific roles.

What a great weekend.  They get to have a blast and learn at the same time.  Man, I wish I was there!  Maybe the girls will strike it rich and I can quit my day job!