Over 150 years since the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, a new wave of prospectors has rush to California, desperate to find gold to sustain them until the job market improves. This body of work documents the re-emergence of gold prospectors in California, explores recent legislation that threatens their way of life and examines California’s identity as “The Golden State.”
The miners here – victims of recent layoffs, veterans, and freelancers in between gigs – are dependent on the income from their claims to feed their families. Selling at ounce of gold at $1100/ oz. provides them with hope for survival.
These prospectors use traditional methods of panning and sluicing, but they also utilize modern suction dredging – the most productive method for prospecting gold – pending an already-delayed review of its environmental impact. This law has decimated the gold prospecting community, forcing miners to seek alternate forms of economic relief, shuttering mining supply stores and reducing peripheral support to tourist businesses in The Golden State – drastically impacting the state’s economy and interstate commerce.