“Placer Mining”


Just putting this here because I like the painting — “Placer Mining” by William F. Chadwick, 1854. It hangs in the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.

Not much is known about the artist. He was born in Maine in 1828 and came to California during the Gold Rush in 1849. He must have had some training in art as a young man. By 1860 he had returned to Maine and was a merchant in Portland. He appears to have died in the 1860s.

The miners in the painting are using a Long Tom, a type of sluice box. A man with a pick axe is at the head, carving out the hillside. Others shovel dirt into the box. A flume bearing running water comes in from the left and pours into the box to wash the dirt. The object is to catch the heavy gold in riffles on the base of the box. In this case the riffles look like they are rocks at the near end.

Chadwick has depicted a diverse cast of prospectors — each one is wearing a different style of hat, for instance.  You can’t help but think it is a scene drawn from his own experience in the goldfields.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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