I grew up in Northeastern California on the Feather River, and my stepdad panned for gold as a hobby. At some point, he and my mom made friends with an older couple who spent their summers in our town and their winters in 29 Palms. They had a dredge, which he bought and used once they became unable to continue making the trip. He never struck the mother lode or anything, but he did find a few nuggets and it was a fun hobby for him.
When I heard about the Mining and Mineral Expo at Superstition Mountain Museum this past weekend, I thought it would be fun to take Pumpkin to try her hand at gold panning. My stepdad passed away years before she was born, so I’d like to find ways to create a connection to him.
The prospector poured a bag of dirt and rocks into the pan, showed her how to swirl it in the water to sift out the dirt, then let her do it on her own. He cautioned that there wouldn’t be any real gold, but she was still excited to find treasure!
We checked out the 100-year-old stamp mill relocated on the museum grounds from New Mexico, and watched a scale model to see how it crushed rocks and sifted out gold.
We took a peek into the Apacheland Barn, which holds a place in Western movie history.
We also learned a little bit about blacksmithing, watching the blacksmith at work.
Pumpkin met a kindred spirit who was also in boots (but made sure to point out to her that she didn’t have spurs or a hat, like he did) and they followed each other around for a bit, looking at trains and playing with everything in the gift shop.
She found another spot to look for treasure, sifting through the sand.
We took a rest in the covered wagon.
And listened to a little bit of music before heading home.
We spent a couple of hours there, and I was surprised at how interested in everything Pumpkin was. She is growing up so quickly! I think we left with a dozen different stones and gems, and we both learned a few things, too.