I had a lot that I could have written about today. First of all it is Mother’s day and my beautiful wife brought in three beautiful children into this world. Second, I have many great women in my family, all deserving of praise and adoration. Third, it was my daughters 16th birthday today. Now she is pretty amazing herself, and many of my blogs have been inspired by her. Fourth, I was travelling today on my way down out of the Sierra Nevada mountains on the long drive down Highway 395 with plenty to think about.
I was contemplating many of the treasures in my life and as we descended down into the hot desert floor where Kern County meets the border of San Bernardino county adjacent to the Mojave Desert. The last bit of mountain area that you encounter before you get to Kramer Junction is a little high desert outcropping known as Randsburg. Now you will miss this if you are driving though the area at 70 MPH. There is a small dusty little town called, Johannesburg. I needed to stop, the kids needed to go to the bathroom, and so did I. As I stood there looking over this town, I noticed the small mountain just to the West. This is known as Red Mountain and it is quite clear where it got its name. The evidence of ore in the soil is made manifest by the red color.
Well, hundreds of years ago prospectors thought this same thought. In fact the area Randsburg, is given this name because the Rand Mine in South Africa is the largest producing Gold Mine in the world. Which is why the small town of Johannesburg that supported the mine got its name. Both hoping that by naming themselves after the South African area that they too would draw that much Gold. Some of the initial miners in the area actually came from South Africa, which I am sure influenced the naming of the area. Anyway, as you just get into town, there is small sign pointing West and if you follow that road you will get into the little known living Ghost Town of Randsburg which still actively supports a few mines in the area that are active.
When you think of Gold Mining, you think of the beautiful mountains of Colorado, the flowing streams of Oregon and the like. What people do not think of is the high desert areas of California. In fact California is the leader in Gold and Silver production from the gold rush days. Randsburg, specifically the Yellow Aster Mine produced over 12M dollars in Gold in 1900’s value. Imagine what that is worth today! Another mine near Randsburg, is the largest silver producing mine in the U.S. and probably one of the top silver mines in the world.
So where do you find gold, silver, and what is precious? As I thought about this desolate area, with hardly any perceived value, I realized that underneath all that dirt, sage, and dust was probably more wealth then all the world’s governments combined. We only mined 1 or 2 veins, how many more sit underneath this area of the world? There will come a time, no doubt, when specialized equipment will tell us exactly. Some poor landowner will have wished he paid attention to the mining rights clause of his property deed. Anyway, as I drove out of this high desert and started down the Cajon Pass I looked in mirror and saw that 16 year old sleeping in the back. I also noted that my wife had fallen asleep as well.
That is when it hit me, I do not need to look any further. My prospecting days are over. I found my gold.