A Job of Mythical Proportions
These Chinese Miners Must Have Felt Like Sysyphus Pushing a Large Rock Uphill Forever, as in Greek Mythology.
The backbreaking labor of stacking and re-stacking sixteen acres of rocks here at the Ah Hee Diggings on Granite Creek must have felt the same to Chinese miners! Men muscled rock piles back, forth, up, and down the valley to expose the streambed. Then they used gold pans, rockers or sluice boxes to extract the gold missed by earlier operations from the streambed sediments.
Dreams of a Better Life
Tough times in China in the mid-1800s motivated a generation of men to seek their fortunes elsewhere.
Some farmed, dug ditches, or opened businesses. Others turned to mining. No matter the job, many immigrants harbored the same dream... to send money home and rejoin their families one day.
Chinese miners could not file their own claims,
but holders could lease or sell their worked-out claims to Chinese owned companies. Along Granite Creek at least ten Chinese companies held claims
Traditional Life Far From Home
Chinese immigrants clung to tradition to deal with the hardship and isolation they faced.
Camp diet favored rice, vegetables, and tea. On rare days off the miners traveled to town to shop and perhaps visit an herbal doctor, "joss house" (temple), opium smoking establishment, or gambling room.
Some men realized their dreams, returning to China with money in their pockets. Others died here, or went home no better off. A few embraced the future here, founding a Chinese American legacy and community that continues today