Mountain Man Logan St. John knew his town was no place for a woman.
Especially one who scrubs his buckskins; turns a bunch of rough miners into
choirboys, and hangs curtains in the saloon!
I’m pleased to announce that one of my previously out-of-print books is now available. To get your Kindle or iPad copy click the cover.
A Long Way Home takes place in a California mining town in 1850 and it’s always been one of my favorites. Libby Summerfield is a new widow with a baby on the way and is desperately trying to get back home to Boston. Unfortunately, she’s stuck in Deadman’s Gulch, the roughest, toughest town in gold country. The book won many awards during its initial run and was awarded a hero K.I.S.S. award from RT.
I thought you might be interested in some of the fun facts about the Gold Rush I discovered while researching the book (hey, I gotta do something with all these notes):
Gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in 1848. Sutter wanted to keep the news quiet because he feared what would happen to his plans for an agricultural empire if word got out. His fears were valid: As soon as the rush began, his workers left in search of gold and squatters invaded his land and stole his crops and cattle.
Getting to California was no easy task. Forty-niners faced hardships and even death traveling to the gold fields. It took as long as eight months to sail around South America. Some chose the alternative route which meant sailing to the Atlantic side of the Isthmus of Panama. They would then have to travel through the jungle to the Pacific and catch a ship bound for San Francisco. Shipwrecks and typhoid fever were among the hazards travelers faced.
Gold was worth $20.67 an ounce (that would be around $535 in today’s market). That sounds like a lot given the times until you consider the cost of living. During the gold rush years eggs cost three dollars each (yes each!). Water could cost up to a hundred dollars per glass! And pills were ten dollars each without advice.
In 1852, more than eighty-one million dollars worth of gold was taken from the Mother Lode. Yields dropped after that, as gold became more difficult to mine. Some miners got rich, but most returned home with less than what they started with.
The old gold mining town now called Placerville was once named Hangtown for obvious reasons.
The world’s second largest gold nugget—and California’s largest—weighed in at a hefty 160 pounds. It was found in Carson Hill in Calaveras County in 1854
In 1848, San Franciso’s population was a mere 1000. Two years later it had exploded to 25,000. People lived in tents, shanties and ship cabins.
The gold rush had a very negative effect on California Indians who were pushed off their land, attacked or enslaved as “diggers.” Some claim that an estimated100,000 Indians lost their lives between 1848-1868.
Forget about the old miner with the long beard. Four-fifths of the forty-niners were youths between eighteen and thirty-five.
According to the 1850 census, only two percent of the residents in mining counties were women. Females were either good or bad. The first “good” woman to arrive in the mining town of Columbia, CA was greeted with a brass band parade. Women had their pick of men. One woman buried her husband one day and married the chief mourner the next.
Speaking of gold, have you seen how much it’s going for lately? I recently took a bunch of broken gold chains into the jewelry store and came away with enough money to purchase a couple of glasses of water at 1850 prices. I’m about ready to try my hand at panning. What about you?
To order the book everyone’s talking about (okay, maybe not everyone) click on cover: