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This is Major Downie's personal account of his gold seeking adventures. Written in the 1890s, Downie was in his eighties while recounting many of his past treasure-seeking expeditions. From the Motherlode of California, the wild British Columbia, the freezing riches of Alaska, and even some strange tales in Panama, Downie describes in great detail the land, it's people, and the hunt for gold. He writes in a dated but easy to understand voice. He also includes many detailed passages of some notable folks of the era.
Without a doubt, his most impressionable stories are of his mining days at the Forks (of the N. Yuba & Downie Rivers), now known as Downieville. During the very early days at the Forks, Downie mentions he would find at least a pound of gold a day using "a butcher's knife, a tin pan and a crowbar." In some places "gold could be seen in considerable quantity by simply removing the dirt with the foot." However, the first winter there is miserable. Without enough food, but with more gold than they know what to do with, a few of his fellow miners pass away, and the irony of life is not entirely lost on him. Downie is a decent man with respect for others of all kinds. He may think himself a bit greater than he really was, but he was decent nonetheless.
For anyone familiar with the California Motherlode, interested in the mining histories of the 49s, or anyone with gold fever and a love for adventures this is must-read. This is a non-fiction narrative that reads like a story.
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