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Celebrate Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day

Updated on February 15, 2013

You Too Can Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector

Dagnabbit if it isn't almost time again for some authentic frontier gibberish. That's right, January 24th is Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day! Never heard of it, you say? Well don't sit there bein' a sidewindin', hornswaggling, bush-whacker. Read on to learn more about this fun celebration of a seminal moment in California history.

Photo courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress LC-USF33- 012701-M2
Courtesy of the Library of Congress LC-USF33- 012701-M2

There's Gold in Them Thar Hills!

Many people have heard of the California Gold Rush but don't know too many of the details. It all started on January 24, 1848 when a man named James Marshall, foreman of a lumber mill being built for John Sutter, found some shiny metal near the intersection of the American and Sacramento Rivers in Northern California. He took his find to his boss, who tested it and discovered it was gold. The two men tried to keep it quiet but rumors soon spread and opened up a flood of treasure seekers to the area all hoping to strike it rich. The Gold Rush brought men from around the world to the small town, including from places as far away as Australia, China and Peru.

At first, they say, you could practically just pick up gold nuggets straight from the ground. Excavation became increasingly more difficult as more miners came to the area and, even then, the primary requirement for success seemed to be luck. The competition for gold was fierce, and the rules were few, which led to a rough and somewhat brutal society.

The forty-niners, as they were soon to be called, had a great effect on the development of California. The city of San Francisco grew from 200 residents to nearly 36,000 within three years. By 1854 more than 300,000 people had made their way to California, one of about every 90 people then living in the U.S. This great influx led to the construction of roads, schools, churches and railroads, as well as increased international shipping in the area. As a result, the Gold Rush helped California develop its reputation as a place where fortunes are made and anything can happen. It remains known as the Golden State to this day.

American Experience - The Gold Rush

Learn more about the California Gold Rush with the excellent PBS series "American Experience - The Gold Rush."

Courtesy of the Library of Congress LC-DIG-ds-00678
Courtesy of the Library of Congress LC-DIG-ds-00678

Knott's Berry Farm Pays Tribute

Starting in the 1940s, California farmer Walter Knott started building a western-themed Ghost Town as part of the development for his Buena Park berry farm. After Knott inherited his father's silver mill in Calico, CA, in 1951, he reconstructed many of the buildings and The Ghost Town grew to include a hotel, blacksmith, livery, saloon and covered wagon camp. One of the highlights was panning for gold, where visitors could take home gold they mined themselves. Moreover, Knott's made a celebration out of the California Gold Rush by holding an annual Prospector's Day parade every January 24th. This by-gone event was the inspiration for Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day.

Panning for gold remains a popular attraction at Knott's Berry Farm. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, we would sometimes take school field trips to Knott's to learn about the old west and other parts of American history. We all looked forward to the part of the day when we could swish our pans around in the trough and maybe take home a vial of gold flakes.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsc-02268
Courtesy of the Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsc-02268

Grizzled Prospectors in Pop Culture

The image of the grizzled old prospector is ubiquitous in pop culture. Some fun and famous examples are:

Walter Huston in Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Jack Starrett in "Blazing Saddles"

Gabby Hayes in almost anything

Jim Backus on "The Brady Bunch"

Will Ferrell on "Saturday Night Live"

Comics character Scrooge McDuck in his younger days (how in tarnation do you think he got so rich?)

Stinky Pete from "Toy Story 2"

Yukon Cornelius from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"

Blazing Saddles

Blazing Saddles [Blu-ray]
Blazing Saddles [Blu-ray]

Of all the indelible grizzled prospectors ever put on film, the one that immediately comes to mind for me is Jack Starrett in Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles." I also happen to think this is one of the funniest movies ever made. While some may find it insensitive, it is exactly that willingness to hold nothing back in its skewering of racism, ideas of femininity and western movie tropes, that make it so funny. You'd certainly be hard pressed to find anything so bold in our politically correct times. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and check it out.


Prospector Talk for Beginners

Get yerself ready for the big day by pickin' up some genuine Prospector Talk.

  • Hornswaggler - A dirty, thieving swindler.
  • Bushwhacker - One of the roughest, toughest outlaws around who just waits fer ya to pass by so's they can jump on ya.
  • Californee - The best darn state in the Union.
  • By cracky - Sumpthin that's awful important and needs to be done right now.
  • Dadgum - What you say when you're mighty annoyed at sumphtin or someone. Makes a right nice change from Dagnabbit and Goldurn.
  • Confounded - What ya say when things just don't make no sense. Also comes in handy when you stub your toe.
  • Varmint - a small animal or a person you don't care for very much.
  • Consarn it! - Sumpthin a real lady would never say.
  • Sockdolager - What done settle the matter once and for all.
  • Sidewinder - The kind of low down snake that will come on all nice like just so's he can jump your claim.

Grizzled Prospector Syndrome

Check out this clip from Mystery Science Theater when Mike becomes afflicted.

Remember to Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector on January 24th!

Before you Skedaddle... - why not drop me a note and let me know you moseyed by!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i'm putting together my plan for January 24, 2014. Nobody has mentioned "Paint Your Wagon". That was the funniest prospector movie I ever saw.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Love the prospector talk for beginners! Going to Knott's Berry Farm as a kid always made me feel like a part of California's gold rush days.

    • MillBucks profile image

      MillBucks 6 years ago

      Very nice lens, I had no idea this special day existed. It was fun reading through this info and learning more about this topic.

    • whodiesinthenew profile image

      whodiesinthenew 6 years ago

      Cool lens. I had great time reading! Thanks!

    • ThatsYourPeople profile image

      ThatsYourPeople 6 years ago

      @RawBill1: You'd better get on it, by gum!Hope you have a whole passel o' fun out west.

    • ThatsYourPeople profile image

      ThatsYourPeople 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Well have a sasparilla for me, by cracky.

    • ThatsYourPeople profile image

      ThatsYourPeople 6 years ago

      @norma-holt: Thanks so much, skiesgreen.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu


    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thank you, very enjoyable.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 6 years ago

      A character's line in a movie set back in them thar days; forgot the movie title, but always makes me laugh: Unhand my fye antsy. (Don't go messing with another man's fiancée.) (Wondering if that was Gabby Hayes...)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This was a great read it reminded me of our own Australian Slang a fun story and an introduction to a new language

    • fugeecat lm profile image

      fugeecat lm 6 years ago

      Ohhhh, this was fun to read.

    • MarknTX profile image

      MarknTX 6 years ago

      Pure Americana. Nice lens, by cracky!

    • profile image

      enidaa 6 years ago

      Loved it ,you put a lot of effort in for our enjoyment,thanks

    • parwatisingari lm profile image

      parwatisingari lm 6 years ago

      after talk like a pirate day, this seems possible. I learnt my words through zane grey and sudden.

    • jeremecausing profile image

      Jereme Causing 6 years ago from Philippines

      congratz :)

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      Lovely tribute to that era. We have a lot of that gibberish here in Australia as well. Congrats on LOTD and now blessed and featured on Blessed by Skiesgreem 2012 and also on Squidoo LOTD Lenses. Well done, hugs

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      By cracky, I'm glad I stopped here on my way to the saloon!

    • profile image

      Scanabella 6 years ago

      I moseyed on by! It was a grand time!

    • profile image

      classycar 6 years ago

      This lens sho nuf teaks me bek to childhood days of rushin home from school to watch the old cowboy shows on tv in the 1950s!! There was lotsa hot lead flyin around back then. Gabby Hays was a one-of-a-kind for sure. Thanks for waking the memories! Carol in Texas

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 6 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Very fun! Congratulations on your Lens of the Day!

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 6 years ago

      Great lens!

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Never heard of this one LOL

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Cool lens and congratulations on getting LOTD!

    • profile image

      cleanyoucar 6 years ago

      They say that you don't stop learning, this is one of those learning days for me. Congrats on the LOTD!

    • BuddyBink profile image

      BuddyBink 6 years ago

      Well done. I like the Prospector Talk for Beginners, a nice touch. Always did like 'Blazing Saddles' as well. Thanks

    • profile image

      skdebbie 6 years ago

      Perdy hansome lukin lens ya got thar

    • RawBill1 profile image

      Bill 6 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      Awesome stuff. I am visiting 'Californee' in 6 weeks time, so I had better get practising my Grizzled Prospector speech by cracky! Congrats on LOTD!

    • MamaRuth profile image

      MamaRuth 6 years ago

      By cracky, you've done a pretty gosh-darn good job on this. The Gold Rush era is one of my favorites and concentrating on the prospectors is a fun way to explore this period.

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 6 years ago

      Hey there! I shore do like this here page. I see you went an' got LOTD.fer it. Well, I'm not s'prised 'cause this here page is whatcha' call 'Downright Dandy' an' well, I jus' wanted to stop by an' tell ya' how doggone Tickled Pink ta' see ya' got yer rightful reckognishun on such a great bit 'uh work. Y'all keep writin' these here fun pages now, y'hear?

      Oh, yeah; an' I thought y'all might like ta' know thet I went an' Pinned yer page over at If'n ya' go ta' my boards an' look et the board titled The Broken Cookie Gang, you'll see y'all page right up there in lights, so ta' speak. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Dagnabbit this if fun, congratulations on LotD honors...blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Very nice lens.

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 6 years ago

      Fun celebration to me...have seen the sites of some "grizzled prospectors" when out Colorado way where my hubby is from. Congrats on the lotd:-)

    • jwcooney profile image

      jwcooney 6 years ago

      Lol, fun lens! I'll have to practice my grizzled prospector talk!

    • profile image

      Chip_Westley 6 years ago

      Wee Doggies! Wait... that's an oil man! Sorry!

    • KandH profile image

      KandH 6 years ago

      what a fun lens, immediately makes me think of the Beverly Hillbillies :)

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      BunnyFabulous 6 years ago from Central Florida

      Great history and sayings too. How 'bout Yosemite Sam from Looney Tunes chasing after that varmint Bugs Bunny?

    • PTurner56 profile image

      PTurner56 6 years ago

      This here readin' made me smile like my toothless ol' grandad! Good job, youngun'!

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      I love this! Just goes to show one more way in which California is awesome :)

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 6 years ago

      OMG.. I LOVE IT!! For sure I want to talk like a grizzled prospector now, I cannot help myself!! I can see it all now, I'll be at the grocery store or out for lunch and just break right into that dialect. Too funny. Angel blessed lens fellow bushwhacker.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 6 years ago

      I remember that statue Prospectors Monument! When I used live in California we use to go to the old Gold Rush of my favorite places was Columbia, California.

    • writerkath profile image

      writerkath 6 years ago

      The very second I saw this lens, I truly DID laugh out loud - and INSTANTLY thought of "Gabby Johnson's" inspiring speech given in "frontier gibberish" in Blazing Saddles. What a creative and fun lens! Congratulations on LOTD, and thank you for putting the little YouTube clip of "Gabby's" speech in Blazing Saddles. Outstanding! :) Kath

    • heehaw lm profile image

      heehaw lm 6 years ago

      great lens , thanks for the info about the gold rush.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Brilliant lens. Very imaginative

    • scoobygang profile image

      scoobygang 6 years ago

      Well, that shur was mighty kind of ya to tell us here greenhorns bout "Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day". I ain't never heard some of them thar sayins' but by cracky, you can be Goldarn shur I'll be passing' 'em along to all my kinfolk! Too bad my Pappy ain't still kickin', cause he'd git a dadgum kick out of this here lens! :)

    • profile image

      DebMartin 6 years ago

      That was fun, by cracky!

    • livinglargeandh profile image

      livinglargeandh 6 years ago

      By cracky, I had to comment! I visited because I am new to Squidoo and want to see what recognized Squidooer do in their Squidoos. But what a great Squidoo. Interesting, well put together, and quite a hoot. I think "hoot" might be be a dirivitive of grizzled prospector language.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 6 years ago

      Well, consarnit! Looks like you went an' got yerself a LotD! YEEEEEHAW! Con-grat-yew-lations! I'm gonna sprinkle some of that Angel Dust on this here lens, but you ain't gettin' none of my gold!

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      Got a kick out of seeing Claude K. Bells statue as your opening photo. Aren't the Orange County Archives great!. I have a lens on Knott's Berry Farm and new season passes so we will have to study up how to speak correctly before we go there. Fun lens. Congrats on LOTD.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 6 years ago from USA

      Happy Talk like a grizzled prospector day! This lens was selected as Lens of the Day today. You can read all about it here:

    • profile image

      nikyweber 6 years ago

      Very nice lens! squidlikes!

    • profile image

      Airyu2011 6 years ago

      Awesome Lens!

    • profile image

      jeremykim2011 6 years ago

      Thank you so much for sharing! Now I know some frontier gibberish!

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 6 years ago

      Came back to send a big Congratulations message for your LOTD :)

    • crystalwriter profile image

      Crystal A Murray 6 years ago from Corydon, Indiana, USA

      Fun lens and great history on the growth of California. And since it's after midnight here in Keen-tucky, I's a guessin' it might be okay ta start talkin like I done jes watched Paint Yer Wagon. (N don't fergit to add dat un ta yer list a movies.) I'm originally from California, but I was born under a wanderin' star.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Dadgumit, January 24th is tomorra! Let's celebrate it!

      Angel blessed.

    • Fizza555 profile image

      Fizza555 6 years ago

      Excellent work. It's always nice to read about cultures.

    • IanMayfield profile image

      IanMayfield 6 years ago

      I'd heard of Talk Like a Pirate Day (you can even set your Facebook language to Pirate-speak) but not this one. I will certainly share this and try to see how much of a rootin', tootin' shindig everyone can have tomorrow, dangnabbit! (Is that right?)

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 6 years ago

      Never heard about the Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day. It is fun reading those sayings. Also I enjoyed reading about the California Gold Rush and how it all started. Great page :)

    • ThatsYourPeople profile image

      ThatsYourPeople 6 years ago

      @KathyMcGraw2: Just added!

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 6 years ago from California

      Fun... amazing how so many of our CA traditions go back to the Gold Rush time :) Do you have some more sayings that we can practice with for Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day?

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 6 years ago from California

      @ThatsYourPeople: LOL, I for 2 would like to see her try :)

    • ThatsYourPeople profile image

      ThatsYourPeople 6 years ago

      @ChristyMarieKent: I, for one, would certainly like to see you try!

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 6 years ago

      What a fun page! I think my gibberish education has now been properly updated an' I am jus' about ready to talk like a grizzled prospector, dad-gum-it! The folks in them thar hills ain't got nuthin' on me fer bein' able to talk proper. Only thing now is, how do I find me summa' the gold thet's been lyin' 'round all over the ground fer all these years?

      Those doggone prospectors shouldn'ta' gone an' found thet gold 'til I was born an' old enough to run an' gather summa' those nuggets fer myself. The greedy hornswagglers! Now, I'm here an' there don't seem to be any left fer me. Them thar bush-whackers done took it ALL ! ! !

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 6 years ago

      Well dagnabbit, that thar was a humdinger of a lens. Golden.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

      I think I need a class in talking like a Grizzled Prospector so I can join in with this fun celebration. I'll use Stinky Pete as my inspiration!

    • ChristyMarieKent profile image

      ChristyMarieKent 6 years ago

      Cool! January 24th is our quarterly management meeting; do you suppose I can get away with talking like a grizzled prospector to the CEO all day?

    • Richard-H profile image

      Richard 6 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Dagnabbit! (Doesn't have the same effect with a British accent), you've put together a rollockin' great page for Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day!