1849 All Over Again?

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You lose your job. Then the home goes into foreclosure. What do you do? Go west to strike it rich in the gold mines. These are scenes from the 1800s, and from the Great Depression, and from today.

The number of folks trying to eke out something of a living by mining for gold in California has increased substantially in recent months. Prospectors are excited by gold prices that are higher than they’ve been in more than two decades. They’re also excited by cable TV—specifically, programs like “Gold Fever,” which track modern-day miners in the hunt for instant wealth.

Based on this story in the Washington Post, most of those panning for gold are coming up empty. More than a few prospectors feel hornswoggled. A small victory: Lodging near the mines can be had for cheap. Tent sites run for as little as 30¢ a day.