Golden Treasure

I recently visited South Pass City, Atlantic City and Miner’s Delight (formerly known as Hamilton City), three gold mining areas in western Wyoming.  They sit at the foot of the Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains.  Only South Pass City and Atlantic City have modern day, full time occupants while Miner’s Delight is an abandoned ghost town. 

The majority of gold discoveries in Rocky Mountain areas resulted from fur trappers looking for hides and particularly beavers to create beaver pelts or plews.  Trappers were the first to arrive and the first to spot the gold flecks. Working their way up frigid mountain waters, sharp eyed trappers spotted the shining materials in stream riffles.  Usually, gold fever supplanted beaver trading and many trappers became gold miners.

This gold mining area is south of Wyoming Highway 28 between Farson to the west and Lander to the east.   When gold was discovered in the mid 1800’s, an influx of miners, merchants, freighters, brewers, blacksmiths, soldiers and other workers flocked to the area seeking riches.  Miners arrived from throughout the United States as well as overseas, namely, Austria, Baden, Bavaria, Belgium, Bohemia, British America, Canada, China, Denmark, England, France, Frankenburg, Germany, Greece, Hanover, Hesse Darmstadt, Hungary, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Luxembourg, Mecklinburg, Mexico, New Brunswick, Norway, Nova Scotia, Nuremburg, Poland, Prussia, Saxony, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Wales and Wuerttemburg.  The would-be miners came face to face with some hard facts.

One, gold was not sprinkled on the surface available for easy pickings.  Two, after the stream placers were exhausted, profitable gold mining required expensive stream dredges and deep mines. Three, the area sits above 7,400 feet (2,250 m) in elevation and was snowbound for five months of the year. [As I write this on May 19, 2015, the road is closed due to snow.]  Four, all equipment, food, hardware, clothing and people had to be transported cross country by horseback, stagecoach, and wagon or freight trains.  Five, prices for food, supplies, clothing, etc. were astronomically high when the average annual income was about $31/month. Six, this area was part of the Dakota Territory with a five day horse ride to the territorial capital in Yankton. Seven, Native Americans were increasingly resentful of the unwanted invasion and wanton misuse of their traditional lands and game. 

After a brief five year period, the majority of the treasure hunters left for other environs.  In the past one hundred plus years, there has been some mining activity in the area.  However, these sites are mostly visited today by trekkers of the Continental Divide trail, vacationers, school groups, genealogists and folks interested in history.

During my visit, I thought of my own treasure hunts.  I am not a rock hound or mineral explorer.  I’m really not even talking about gold nuggets.  But, how many times have I searched for an experience or person or thing that I believed was fourteen carat gold and ended up with Fools Gold?  

There have been just as many times I have found gold without searching for it.  I have incredibly dear friends, three wonderful sons, family, meaningful relationships, a belief in Jesus Christ and, most importantly, a spiritual walk with God.  In the book of Matthew, Chapter 6, verses nineteen through twenty-one (Matthew 6:19-21), I am told not to store up treasures on earth, which can be destroyed by theft or rust, but to store my treasure in heaven. 

As I age, I am making better decisions on what and who to treasure.  I know as my heart places value, I will spend my time, money and talents on what I value.  I want to give my best to those “treasures” that bring value to my life.  This means giving my tithe for God’s work, lifting up others in prayer, speaking of my faith and living in such a way that I reflect the love of Christ in my actions and words.

It also means letting go of Fools Gold, basically anything that doesn’t love God. This can be finances, sickness, emotions, situations, circumstances, relationships and people.  Whatever is of love is of God. Whatever doesn’t love God has to leave, has to go, and must depart from my life.  Anything that draws me away from God is fake and won’t bring value.  I have to be like the miners who didn’t find true gold and left to find treasure elsewhere.

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