The discovery of an exceptionally rich vein of gold or silver made the hard and dangerous work of prospecting worthwhile. The prospector could then stake a claim to his find--and that small parcel of land and the riches it held would be legally his. Prospectors dreamed of striking the motherlode, a wide vein of rich ore, and some few made vast fortunes that way. Of course, they had to beware of claim-jumpers--those ne'er-do-wells who would steal someone else's mining property before it had been officially recorded. Many other forty-niners found only borrascas--unproductive mines or claims--before they wearily gave up the search.
Things To Think About:
How could mining change the surrounding land? Would it help it or hurt it?
What equipment would you need to be a forty-niner?
What would you do if you suddenly struck it rich?
Is there still gold in California?
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