11. Early Prospector Searching for Riches
In the early history of Arizona, a gold or silver strike would bring hundreds of hopeful prospectors to the region. There would be a brief boom and then a collapse after a year - or two - or ten. . . .
Prospecting is physical labor, involving traversing (traditionally on foot or on horseback), panning, sifting and outcrop investigation, and looking for signs of mineralization. In some areas prospectors must also make claims, meaning they must erect posts with the appropriate placards on all four corners of a desired land they wish to prospect and register this claim before they may take samples. In other areas publicly held lands are open to prospecting without staking a mining claim.
In the United States and Canada prospectors were lured by the promise of gold, silver, and other precious metals. They traveled across the mountains of the American West, carrying picks, shovels and gold pans. The majority of early prospectors had no training and relied mainly on luck to discover deposits.
It was very unlikely that a prospector would retire rich even if he was the one who found the greatest of lodes. There are many stories of those who found large ore veins and died without receiving anywhere near a fraction of the value of the gold contained in the lodes.
For the person who likes solitude, open spaces, and an opportunity to succeed in finding something no one else has, this occupation could be rewarding. Exploration and a better understanding of the land was a side benefit received from prospectors. We should appreciate the work of the prospector in opening up the west to the rest of us.
Artist: Doug Quarles
Size: 5' x 14'
Completed: August 2013
City of Benson
Arizona G & T Cooperatives
Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative