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Gold Rush: Them Forty-Niners!

Updated on January 27, 2016

By: Wayne Brown

All the newspapers say “Go West, young man”

Have some adventure, get yourself some land

Nobody mentioned just how rough it would be

Crossing these prairies as broad as the vast sea

They has found some glittery gold or so they say

At an old mill on the river out Californie way

Men are packing their belongings; loadin’ their chuck

To head on out to Californie and try their luck

Me, I’m stayin’ right here on this prairie ground

There probably ain’t enough gold there to go around

I’ll just farm my land and pray for some rain

No, no gold for me; nothing ventured, nothing gained

Greed can make a man want for a lots of nice things

Fine riding horses, clothing, and big diamond rings

Me, I don’t need all that much to get myself by

Just three squares, a roof, and a soft place to lie

Them boys will run for Californie hell-bent-for-leather

Cross them big mountains in snow and cold weather

To get to a place none of them have ever seen

All for some shiny flakes of gold; a poor fools’ dream

They say them rocks is the size of hen eggs

They’re a pannin’ in water halfway up their legs

A feller could get rich in just a couple of days

Then retire to a life of strictly rich man’s ways

Me, I don’t believe it any of it, not on a bet

Go on to Californie and see how rich you get

I’ll wait here fer ya and just work this ol’ land

Tryin’ to raise crops in this dry ol’ prairie sand

I reckon some boys might get themselves rich

If they can find nuggets runnin’ down that ditch

Good men have tried and already failed at the test

They left here with everything and came back with less

Newspaper says 300,000 are headed in that direction

Forty-Niners, they call them, the name of selection

Don’t know about you but that’s too many folks for me

I’ll just stay back on the prairie and do me a wait n’ see

Forty-niners got themselves an adventure to behold

That is if they really do find all that glittering gold

A fool has chased worse things in this life he chose

Not me, I’ll stay and work this prairie farm I suppose

©Copyright WBrown2011. All Rights Reserved



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    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      6 years ago from Texas

      @femmelflashpoint...You should read Doc's hub...good info on Strauss & Co. I thought the enunciation would enhance the spirit of the poem a bit. Glad you liked it! WB

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Cowboy Brown,

      Loved the poem. I realllly liked the "pronunciation" you wrote it with. Whomever is speaking it talks like some of my elder kin, lol.

      And now, of course, after seeing DrBJ's comment, I have to read his hub on Levi Strauss as well.

      So, off I go!


    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      6 years ago from Texas

      @phdast7...Thank you, so glad you enjoyed. History has a lot of rich subjects for verse. WB

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Good poem, interesting topic. It would never have occurred to me to build a poem on a historical basis. Glad you are there to do it. :)

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      7 years ago from California Gold Country

      Hydraulic mining was stopped pretty fast, as people realized that it ruined the land by stripping the topsoil, polluted the water supply (sometimes you had to drink something other than whiskey) and it killed the fish. There are some areas where hydraulic mining was practiced that still look like a moonscape.

      And, yes, it did draw people from all over the world.. making the US, and especially California, very culturally rich and diverse.

      drbj is also right-- the ones who made a profit were more often the ones who 'mined the miners.'

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @drbj...Sounds like something that came out of the Obama camp, huh Doc? Got to time to think about it, we must take action now! In the end, the blue jean guy got richer than those folks rushing out for the change. WB

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      Fascinating poem - well done, Wayne. The majority of people who did get rich from the Gold Rush of the Forty Niners were the merchants who sold them the supplies they needed to go off a-hunting gold.

      Case in point: Levi Straus and his jeans. Wrote about him in "Interview with Levi Strauss" if you're interested.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @Rochelle Frank...LOL! They were suffering the dillerium of gold fever I'll bet. Amazingly the gold rush drew people from all over the world at a time when it took forever just to travel across the state of Texas. The Clint Eastwood movie, "Pale Rider" displays some of the hydraulic mining that was being used at the time to shoot high pressure water against the rock surfaces and cause major erosion to uncover the gold...they had a lot of destructive power even in those days. Greed can drive a lot of creativity and fever. Thanks, Rochelle. WB

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      7 years ago from California Gold Country

      Enjoyed this very much.

      Yes, the smart ones stayed on the prairie. I volunteer in a Gold Rush museum and people often ask if the exposure to mercury (used in the ore crushing process) affected the brains of the miners. We always say, "It's hard to tell, because we think most of them must have been crazy in the first place."

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @writer20...Thank you and thanks so much for those nice words. WB

      @arusho...Thank you! So glad that you enjoyed it. WB

      @anndavis24...Keep hummin', maybe you'll find the tune and we'll have us a hit song! LOL! WB

      @explorations...Thank you so very much. I was overdue for a western flavored creation. WB

    • explorations profile image


      7 years ago from Philadelphia

      I agree with you, anndavis.. the poem is melodic.. great poem you have here Mr. Brown.. voted it up..

    • anndavis25 profile image


      7 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Oh, and while I was humming, I kept thinking about John Houston....

    • anndavis25 profile image


      7 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Sounds like a song. I kept humming a tune and trying to make it fit. The tune starts off, "I spied a young cowboy." The guy had it right. I'd rather stay in the prairie any day than to search for gold. There's peace in the valley.

    • arusho profile image


      7 years ago from University Place, Wa.

      wonderful poem. Good job!

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      7 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Great hub to read. You're writing is good. Voting up.


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