Thanks to a collection of Gold Rush-era artifacts currently on loan to the Temecula Valley Museum by Paul Price, visitors can see firsthand just how difficult the journey to prosperity was at the Good Hope Mine in Riverside County.
The “Gold Fever!” traveling exhibit, organized and provided by The Oakland Museum of California, opened Saturday, Jan. 12 and will be on display for six weeks.
“This is a perfect opportunity for Temecula to learn about the Gold Rush and what brought so many people west in the mid-1800s,” said Museum Specialist Sue Blanch. “The traveling exhibit is the pictorial display, while the Price artifacts are a three-dimensional picture of what mining life was really like.”
California Gold Rush lore tells of farmers heading west in search of the elusive elephant–another word for gold.
Displayed artifacts accumulated by Paul Price show how true this was with the addition of a huge hammer handle bearing the famed words, “Searchin’ for the Elephant.”
Other items include actual gold ore in sparkling splendor, as well as chunks of coal and silver, and the implements for carving them out of the earth, measuring the wealth and surveying the land.
There is also a handmade “canary cage”–a means of detecting deadly gas in deep mining caverns.
The “Gold Fever! The Untold Stories of California’s Gold Rush” exhibit was developed on a grant from Wells Fargo and is making the rounds in California to educate and encourage local cities to share their own Gold Rush stories.
The traveling exhibit tells the story of the original Californios, immigrants by land and sea, and the onslaught of original forty-niners who followed elusive promises of gold and wealth in California.
According to the exhibit, the goal is to encourage Californians to rediscover California and the untold stories of hardship and triumph.
The transcribed accounts of real miners and their families, combined with reproduced daguerreotype pictures tell the story in detail. The quotes speak of a time when men could leave their tents and stashes of gold nuggets untouched without fear or thought of anyone stealing them.
“We leave our tents containing gold all day, with none to guard without a thought,” one anonymous 1848 miner expressed in a reproduced letter.
Riverside’s Good Hope Mine operated in 1899 and Price’s framed art and mine map show the detailed inner-workings of the mine, located between Lake Elsinore and Perris.
Future events include “Hearts of Gold” – an annual family Valentine craft that will feature special gold Valentines – from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 9.
And “Strike it Rich” – teaching hands-on gold panning techniques – planned from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 23.
Temecula Valley Museum is located at 28314 Mercedes Street, Temecula.
To learn more, visit www.temeculavalleymuseum.org.
Ashley Ludwig is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.