My brother-in-law, Loyd, took us on a tour of some of the most scenic (and vertical) California Gold Country imaginable near Grass Valley and Auburn. I'll tell you what, those miners were unbelievably tough! Plus, they must have had great homing instincts, because finding their way on foot (most of this terrain is too steep for horses) from place to place was unbelievably difficult.
We stopped at Iowa Hill, a now-tiny community which dates back to the Gold Rush. In those days, thousands of miners worked the North Fork Canyon of the American River. The village sits on a ridge high above the river. The people depended on mule trains for supplies year-round.
A visit to the historic cemetery opened our eyes to just how brutal life was for the settlers. Babies often died in infancy. Mothers often died after giving birth. Many men died in accidents or were murdered. Typhoid and scarlet fever epidemics took a toll. And very few people struck it rich (or even 'middle class').
They lived on hope as much as anything. And many survived. Makes you think, doesn't it.?