Today, I'm a gold digger. Literally. I'm in gold country reporting on the "second gold rush." Would-be gazillionaires began descending on the mother lode country this year as gold prices rocketed.
Geologists say 80-90 percent of the gold is still in these hills, but the "easy gold" is gone.
What's left is harder to get--often microscopic gold--which is why it be some time before they reopen the old mines.
Holly Boitano at the Sutter Gold Mine says, "It takes $1,100 a foot to build a mine, which is why the price of gold has to be so high," to make re-opening feasible. Meantime, people are snapping up mining claims as if they're investment homes in Las Vegas two years ago. One old-timer told me, "Buyer beware."
But if you like history, getting outdoors, and doing something different, you might be able to pan enough gold around here these days to pay for your trip. And the National Hotel in Jamestown will soon start accepting gold as payment, just like the hotel did when it first opened in 1859. They have a scale, ready to go, but can't accept gold just yet. They have to wait to be licensed by the county Office of Weights and Measures. Didn't have those back 150 years ago.