This is an ever-evolving list, as we celebrate the men and women, real and fictional, who defile our cherished Mother Earth, scarring her and removing her mineral wealth in the name of personal gain. We celebrate these great prospectors, of course, because who doesn’t love gold and whatnot, and many of them made a ton of money, which is an accurate representation of their worth as people. These prospectors are ranked based on a combination of the importance of their discovery, the amount of money they died with, their contributions to popular culture, colorful language, and how I’m feeling this morning.
25 – Gabriel Read
Found gold in New Zealand. Who cares?
24 – Father Manuel Lopez
Allegedly found gold in Arizona in 1774, and made the Papago Indians local mine it all for him. Not cool.
23 – Antoin Stander
Discovered gold on Eldorado Creek in Alaska, lost all his money, was a horrible drunk, and had to pay his way out of Alaska by working in a ship’s kitchen.
22 – Edward Hargraves
First to discover gold in Australia, after failing in California.
21 – Billy Barker
First to find gold in Cariboo, British Columbia. Cariboo is a funny name.
20 – “Dutch Bill” Dietz
Worked with Barker, had a better nickname.
19 – Green Russell
Started Pike’s Peak gold rush in the 1850s. Was intercepted on the way back to his native Georgia by the Union Army, and never got to enjoy the spoils.
18 – Harry Anstey
Found gold in Yilgarn, in Western Australia. Later wrote a book claiming he hadn’t done much, and had received credit and the reward for the discovery unfairly. That takes chutzpah.
17 – Pauline Weaver
Sparked Arizona gold rush. Is a dude named Pauline.
16 – Ezra Kind
Traveled with a party into the Black Hills in the 1830s and supposedly found gold. Killed by Native Americans for trespassing before he could get out with it, but after carving a note in sandstone detailing his discovery. Priorities, dude.
15 – Alex McDonald
“King of the Klondike,” McDonald found a fortune (somewhere in excess of $7 million), refused to rest on his laurels once the gold rush in Alaska petered out, kept buying worthless land, and ultimately died bankrupt. Inspired a poem, which will make Carson happy.
14 – George Harrison
First to find gold in South Africa, leading to the founding of Johannesburg and lots and lots of racism. No one’s favorite Beatle.
13 – Keish, aka Skookum Jim Mason
Was part of the party who found gold in Alaska. Brother-in-law, who is credited with the find, describes him as “straight as a gun barrel, powerfully built with strong sloping shoulders, tapering…downwards to the waist, like a keystone. He was known as the best hunter and trapper on the river, in fact he was a super-specimen of the northern Indian.”
12 – George Carmack
Said brother-in-law, who gets way more credit than his wife, or Jim because he’s a white guy. He’s why Jack London is important, I guess.
11 – Joe Ladue
Founded Dawson City, Yukon, was hugely successful prospector and businessman. Got out at the right time. Died filthy rich.
10 – Yukon Cornelius
Augments love of gold with love of silver. Saves Rudolph, tames Abominable Snow Monster. I’m pretty sure we never actually see him find gold.
9 – James W. Marshall
Found gold at Sutter’s Mill, sparking the California Gold Rush. This destroyed his life, when the rush of prospectros forced him off his land. Later becoming a partner in a goldmine, he was bankrupted.
8 – 49ers
Late-comers to the California Gold Rush. Have won five Super Bowls.
7 – 48ers
The 49ers play in the Super Bowl; the 48ers, who got in on the ground floor of the California Gold Rush, own the teams that play in the Super Bowl.
6 – The Tramp
From Charlie Chaplin’s classic The Gold Rush. Haven’t seen it, but I think it’s in my Netflix Queue.
5 – George Hearst
Main antagonist on Season 3 of Deadwood. Gerald McRainy is awesome. Father of a real asshole.
4 – Conrad Reed
Son of a Hessian soldier who stayed behind after the Revolutionary War. First ti find gold in the United States. USA! USA!
3 – Yosemite Sam
“Ah hates rabbits.”
2 – Paddy Hannan
Found gold as part of a party in Australia, but didn’t tell anybody. Led his horse away from camp in the night. The next morning, told everyone else to leave while he and his two buddies looked for the lost horse. Then they filed the claim for themselves. Sneaky bastard.
1 – Whitney Ellsworth
Print This Post