Sarina Finkelstein's book, The New Forty-Niners, documents the new wave of gold seekers she found living on the banks of streams throughout California and attempting to make their living as gold miners, just like the "Forty-Niners" of the original Gold Rush of 1849.
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.
1 What happened in 2009?
2 What is said about the price of gold?
3 How did Sarina find out about the new gold prospectors?
4 What two characteristics do we learn about Martin, the protagonist of the book?
5 What did Duane do with the gold he found?
6 What is the main appeal of looking for gold for most people today?
You can check your answers by reading the transcript below.
So it all started in May of 2009. That year the United States experienced the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930’s (1), highly leveraged banks imploded, millions were off from their jobs, foreclosure rates sky-rocketed and the saving of many retirees were wiped out, so the value of the dollar went down, but the average price of gold between 2005 and 2010 quadrupled (2).
I stumbled across a magazine article or newspaper article (3) about a small community of gold prospectors that were mining and looking for gold in the Angeles National Forests. One day I just bought a ticket and decided I was going to go out there and find them.
I happened to meet what I would call the protagonist of the book, Martin, who was this little guy, smaller than all the others but who worked obsessively (4), who would move this gigantic six-foot boulders out of the river just to try and find gold.
Mirela came out with her husband Jeff to California from Idaho, and here she is working with the classifier and sifting material into a bucket that Jeff had just dug out of the hole.
This is Duane and his dog Moses and their trailer in the Klamath National Forest, and Duane basically came out I believe in 2011, 2012 to the Klamath for just a week with very few materials and he prospected up and down the Klamath River, along the banks, and managed to get enough gold that he could bury his mother who passed away that year (5).
You know, in this day and age there’s still a sense of gold fever that existed in the 19th century of people going out in mass out west, but there’s also an interesting aspect in the modern age which is that I feel there’s a lot of people who want to abandon a cubical lifestyle, who don’t want to work in theoretical ideas in an office and who really want to work with their hands and to find something (6).