Still looking for Gold
There are still
prospectors searching for gold in the
American Far West
has always attracted people. At the start of the twentieth century, and
during the nineteenth century, thousands of men went to the West of the
United States, looking for gold. The "Gold Rush" lasted, on and off,
for, sixty or seventy years, then it finished.
But today, there are
still men and women out in the West, looking for gold, as
Andrew Rossiter found out.
was a blistering
hot day in summer. The track leading to "Atlantic City" (Wyoming) was
and bumpy, and great clouds of dust blew up behind the car. In 1870,
City was a prosperous town, with several thousand inhabitants, mostly
It was a strange place to find a town, mind
hidden in little
in the middle of a wide
City began life
as a staging
post on one of the
taken by emigrants en
however it became a roaring
gold town, where people could make (or lose) their fortunes in a day.
did make a fortune; many
gold to keep them happy, but a lot found nothing, or nothing much
about seven years after
the gold rush began, it finished. Suddenly, it seemed that there was no
gold left in the ground. The miners packed their tools, their pans, and
their bags, and went off somewhere else, to try their luck again. There
were no more emigrants either; as soon as the first transcontinental
had opened in 1869, the old emigrant trails had been completely
The hotels closed, the shops closed, the bars closed, the jail
closed; and before long, Atlantic City was a ghost town, uninhabited
by the occasional rancher or hunter, and the wandering coyotes.
to find much in Atlantic City. I knew that a few
lived there again now, some of the old houses had been restored, and
had been built. But I didn't expect much.
drove round a dusty bend,
and there in front of us lay the town, a couple of dozen wooden
some old, some new, and mostly pretty plain.
there was a
fire-station; then, in the middle of the town, a wooden "saloon". A
I thought, something to drink at last.
stopped the car in a cloud
of dust, and we walked up the steps and into the saloon.
if I'd wanted to do a bit of time-travelling, I couldn't have done much
better; walking through that door was like walking back eighty years in
time. Inside, the old Western saloon was still intact, with its big
wooden bar, and enormous mirrors on the walls. Apart from the electric
light, the juke box, and the tables set for dinner, it was almost
there in the corner sat
with his wife. If he'd been
wearing a red gown, I'd have taken him for Father Christmas, but he
This old-timer wasn't in Atlantic City to bring presents, but to find
said his name was Brad,
and he'd been looking for gold in Atlantic City for some time now. Yes,
he'd found some too; not enough to make him a millionnaire, but enough
to make him happy.
the Gold Rush ended
in Atlantic City, he told me, it was not actually because there was no
more gold, but because gold was too hard to find, or not valuable
gold is a lot more
valuable than it was a hundred years ago, and modern techniques allow
to find gold more easily. And that was why Brad and his wife were in
City, digging for gold.
were not the only ones,
said Brad; quite a few
of the "concessions"
are now being worked, and some old mines are being opened up again. In
some places, mining for gold has become commercially profitable again;
but in most cases, the miners, like Brad, are just amateurs.
Brad hadn't spent all
his life digging in tunnels and panning
streams, to find a few ounces
of gold. In fact, he was a retired
looking for gold as a hobby, and a nice way to pass the time in a wild,
lonely and beautiful part of North America.
than gold, no doubt,
Brad was looking for a way of life, a dream of the past. If
he had found no gold, he would not
have been too worried.
of today's amateur gold prospectors are there for the money; they're
for the fun, the isolation, and the nostalgia!. The legend of the west
will go on inspiring people for many many years.
hot - en route for
: going to
think that - gulch
: valley - jail
prison - mind you:
please note - on and off:
from time to time -
grammes (1 ounce = about 25 grammes) panning
looking - plain
ordinary - prospector
: person looking for gold - retired
a person retires when he/she stops her working life - roaring
very active - scrub
: small bushes
- staging post
: place where
people stopped for the night, bought provisions, etc. - trails
tracks - worried
for the Firefox
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Still looking for gold - Classroom ideas
through the article, then try to write a third person account based on
the events narrated in the article.
speech. Note how
most of the latter part of the article mostly reports information given
by Brad. Students should pick out the ways in which the writer shows
this is all reported speech.
exercise that can be
completed by students on their computers; students can then print out
their dialogues foir correcting by the teacher. This exercise
its own file.
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