March 15, 2011
Nevada's Online State News Journal
[Washoe Silver Mines, Hutchings' Illustrated California Magazine, December 1859]
OWING to the recent and extensive discoveries of gold, silver, copper, and other metals, on the flats, and in the ravines surrounding Washoe, Walker's, and Carson rivers, Mono Lake, Honey Lake and other vallies on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada range, there are signs of a second golden era being quietly inaugurated on the Pacific Coast. Prospecting parties now out, from the Siskiyou mountains to the Colorado river, we doubt not will add their quota of experience in confirmation of the fact.
Unfortunately, these discoveries create too much excitement in unstable minds, and revive the morbid desire to become suddenly rich. Such failures—to the many —as Gold Bluff, Gold Lake, Kern River,
288 HUTCHINGS' CALIFORNIA MAGAZINE.
and Frazer river, are valueless in the lessons they might teach. Nothing less than a personal trial and disappointment will satisfy. Some men in their impatience to be there, are even now selling out good claims, at a great sacrifice, in which most probably their fortunes could be found. Now, when snow is covering every foot of ground, and provisions, clothing, and tools are exorbitantly high ; and when not a stroke of successful labor can possibly be performed for several months; or one blow given to advance the worker in his road to fortune. Our advice to such eager spirits must be this : " keep cool, wait, do not be induced by any fine imaginary picture of wealth to be procured, to quit a claim that is paying you moderate wages; or any business that is reasonably remunerative. Think this over quietly."
That there is gold and silver in paying quantities, in some explored districts, there is no reason to doubt. That hundreds of men already there, are obtaining nothing, is also equally clear. That others will go who never did or could accomplish anything, is alike plain; for the simple reason that labor, which is the philosopher's stone, they will not, as they love it not. Many are carried away with the delightful idea of kicking out nuggets of gold as they walk; or expect to find a fortune without the fatigue of working for it— these may be disappointed, And their reports—like many who visit California, and return because they did not make their fortune in a few brief weeks or months, and which, in any other section of the Union is the work of a life-time—will be unfavorable and untrue.
As this discovery will give a new impetus to emigration from the other side, it must have an important influence on the future destinies of the entire Pacific coast; and be an additional reason, with clear and candid minds, for the early commencement and rapid construction of the Pacific and Atlantic Railroad.
[Washoe Silver Excitement, Hutchings' Illustrated California Magazine, April 1860]
THERE can be no possibility of misunderstanding the tendencies of the public mind at this juncture, concerning the discoveries of silver on the eastern side of the Sierras. Excitement is rapidly reaching its climax. The indiscriminate swell of the tide of population towards Frazer river gives out a new concentric wave towards Washoe. Every steamboat, stage and pack or saddle train, on every conceivable trail has passengers for Washoe. In every city, town and village, there are "Washoe blankets," "Washoe clothing, boots and shoes," " provisions and stores put up for Washoe ; " Washoe corn and bunion salve," " Washoe pistols, knives and shot guns," " Washoe maps," Guides to the silver mines of Washoe, &c., &c." Ad Infinitum.
Persons who do not get excited about
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the immense fortunes (at least in prospect) at Washoe, are looked upon as behind the age, and foolishly allowing a good opportunity to pass for becoming suddenly rich. Within three months from this time we opine a different story and a new set of sentiments will be spoken from the same lips.
That there is silver, aye silver, in greater abundance than has ever before been discovered in a single vein in any part of the world, we are willing to concede to the Comstock lead, for its richness is almost fabulous ; and further, we are willing to consent to the fact that others of great richness will also be discovered ; yet, there is also another fact forcibly patent to our minds which is this: to the laborer who goes there with his strong arm and willing hands as his only prospecting capital, those mines will be comparatively a sealed book; and exposure, suffering, fatigue, and disappointment will write their severe characters in sweat and dust and lines of care upon his brow. Speculators and monied capitalists will make—and lose—fortunes, no doubt. A few persons will find good paying mines, but the many will not.
One feature of this excitement gives us pain. Many persons of limited means, and some with families dependent upon them, in their haste to raise money, to start for the new El Dorado, are selling out their snug little homesteads at a great sacrifice, and soon their families will be homeless and unsheltered. Such we would entreat to pause before they commit so great an act of recklessness. Were the chances of their improving the condition of themselves and families more numerous and certain, we would have nothing to say.
Those persons who are "waiting for something to turn up," might perhaps be conferring a favor upon themselves and the public, by emigrating to Washoe, and instead of " waiting," go to work at turning something up. Others who are out of employ, might also do well to go, but we hope that few persons will throw away a certainty for an uncertainty, by leaving good diggings in hopes of finding better ; as it is a hard task to climb a second time to fortune.