Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Golden Nugget


Considered one of mankind’s most prized possessions, for centuries people of all walks of life have dreamed of acquiring the riches associated with gold—of finding that ‘golden nugget’. 

Although the gold rushes of California and Alaska may have become some of the most well-known, there have been gold rushes and discoveries in most every state of the U.S. Even my home state of Minnesota had a short lived gold rush in the 1880’s. 

The largest single gold nugget ever found and ‘recorded’ was in Australia on February 5, 1869. It weighed around 140 pounds and had to be broken into three pieces to be weighed because there wasn’t a scale capable of weighing it. It was discovered in a rut along a road. This photo was taken at the discovery site. The nugget was quickly melted down and sent to the Bank of England fifteen days after being found. At the time it was valued around $50,000. In today’s market, that nugget would be worth approximately four million dollars. 

I found my ‘golden nugget’ a few years ago. While at a book sale a small paperback book, “Gold Finding Secrets” written by Edwin P. Morgan and first published in 1966 caught my attention. It’s autographed by the author, and I believe I paid a quarter for it, thinking it would be a cute little ‘coffee table conversation piece’. However, when an Alaskan gold rush story came to me and my editor said ‘write it’, this little paperback became a treasure of information. Full of black and white pictures, illustrations and blue prints for building rockers, sluice boxes, and vibrating tables (among other things), this book had the answer for practically every gold mining question I had. It has since gained a protected spot on my ‘keeper’ bookshelf.  

Do you have a little nugget like that? Something you stumbled across, but truly didn’t know how valuable it would become to you?


  1. Lauri, how fortuitous you found that book. I have a couple like that and I treasure them. One is LONE STAR: A HISTORY OF TEXAS AND THE TEXANS. One I especially treasure is PAINTED POST, which is about the pioneers up through today in one family. The author has since died, but my family toured her and her husband's ranch a couple of times and gained so much information for my Stone Mountain Texas series. I feel so lucky to have come across her and her book.

  2. I do love this post. If only I'd ever found a real gold nugget I'd be extremely happy, but since I have not, I'm still as happy as I have ever been.
    One nugget I found and have used many times is the book titled: Texas Tears and Texas Sunshine--these are names of quilts and two others named are Lone Star and Log Cabin. The writers of this book divided the book into four sections, each named for one of the quilts, and each section tells about the frontier women of that time--from 1821 to 1905. This is a book about :Voices of Texas Frontier Women.
    Each section contains 4-5 pioneers of our state, as was written by her own hand. "Voices of Frontier Women." This book is riveting and fascinating, and I've used several women and their story in posts for Sweethearts of the West.
    Thanks for sharing yours. None of the Texas women pioneers found actual gold, except for the land they found in Texas.

  3. Lauri, what a wonderful comparison. My goodness, I wish I had found that gold nugget! LOL I can only imagine what I might do with that money.

    You know, I've just been thinking about the other kind of "nuggets" you spoke of--books, stories, poetry...I have a lot of nuggets that I draw from in my stories for the qualities and voices of my characters.

    Oral family history--stories my mom told me about her growing up years and so on, and our family...that's a huge nugget for me. I never dreamed at the time when she was trying to tell me these stories that I would be trying now to remember every single detail she told me. Wish I had listened better.

    Another nugget for me is the ability to write longhand--something we take for granted, and will be seeing less and less of in days to come, since so many states are doing away with teaching cursive writing to elementary age children--a travesty in my opinion. Being able to sit down with a pen and blank paper and create is the most wonderful thing ever--and who would have thought that that is being taken away from today's kids? I'm so glad I learned to write, because that's how I write everything, first, before I put it on the computer.

    I have several books that are "nuggets" to me--books that mean different things to me; books that have in some way affected me; books I refer back to; books that instilled a desire in me to become a writer.

    I love this idea of thinking about nuggets--those things we didn't realize meant as much as they did at the time, be they books, memories, oral stories, mementoes...I'll be thinking of this for weeks to come!

    Great post!

  4. Wow, finding that nugget was like winning today's mega lottery. I love when ordinary people who struggle to earn a living hit it big. It's like a blessing.
    My special "nuggets" are having a set of wonderful parents who gave me their wisdom, unconditional love, and allowed me to be free to be me. They told me their stories and I've used those stories when I write. I also have some reference books that have served me well: Remember When by Allen Churchill. This book is loaded with photographs and details of the early twentieth century. I also have a set of similar reference books titled This Fabulous Century that details the history of life in the twentieth century in pictures and antidotes. And I was also blessed to have the McNeal family trunk in my possession for a while until I passed it on to my nephew. It is filled with the treasures of our family.
    Great post, Lauri. I wish you every success.


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