St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thar's Gold in them there Hills

Back when Grandpa and then Uncle Chan owned the old Tollander farm on Trade River along the River Road just into Burnett County, talk would sometimes turn to the gold mine across the river from the farm.

According to what I remember, "Old Man ????" had tried panning for gold on a bend in Trade river, and found a little gold and so built a sluice and a little railcart on tracks leading from a sand  bank to the river.  He would shovel the dump cart full of sand, let it coast down the hill and dump into the sluice and the river would wash out a little gold. 

What got me thinking about this is the Discovery Channel TV shows (I get on Netflix) about mining gold in Alaska.  These reality shows have at core actual people doing real things, but hyped up wildly--so much everyone can see the fakery in the staged dramas.  They are as close to reality as professional wrestling is to high school competition!

 Another Alaska reality show is about an extended family keeping 20 cows and doing a little logging, fishing, and farming.  A whole episode is about whether they will get their fence fixed before the cows get out, but with appropriate dramatic music, and squabbles between relatives, the mundane fencing job becomes high drama. When you google the family you find out they are all millionaires and whether they get a salmon or starve is not reality--so if you upfront assume it is pure entertainment with some small redeeming value (the techniques shown to do interesting tasks), then you don't get too peeved.  However, it certainly does help explain Alaskan Sarah P seeing Russians across the bay!  

Anyway, watching some Yahoos in Alaska trying to get gold is at the core interesting in that you see the equipment and techniques (although rarely with all the squabbles and welding of broken equipment).  

So, in hopes of stimulating some drama locally, I attach some gold mining efforts in Polk County from the early 1900s Eau Clair Leader newspaper (readable through the Badgerlink free through your local library).  

Along with the gold and copper strikes, I added a train derailment near Grantsburg and a murder near Amery for the appropriate level of drama.  You have to use your imagination to connect them all together!  

Access to these newspapers are through the local library MORE system.  Go to your library website and look around for the MORE connection, then try to find newspaper archives