Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Betsy, A Story of Prospecting and "Progress"

Betsy kept to herself, busy panning one pan after another the entire day while we ran our high-tech equipment nearby. At the end of the day, we were hauling all our equipment up to the worlds biggest blackest dually van, when I saw Betsy coming down the Clear Creek bike path carrying her pan, bucket and a bag with her trash from the day in it. She stopped about every 50 or 100 feet to take a little rest break before moving along toward the parking lot where I was sitting.

I managed to get my legs to work so I hurried down and helped her carry her things the final few hundred yards to her pickup truck. We sat and talked a minute or two and she told me that she started coming down to this spot over 25 years ago when she retired, she is 85 now. She also told me that she has collected about 7 ounces of gold in that 25 years, one pan at a time. I had to smile, here is a little gal, 85 years old who comes down there by herself and has a wonderful time, bothers no-one and got over 7 ounces of gold in the process.

Now there are those who want to outright ban gold panning at this spot and other locations without any regard for people like Betsy, or the history of our state or the rights of prospectors. Jeffco and Adams County are both considering plans that would significantly impact the rights of prospectors and panners.

Betsy is a special person, like so many who have been prospecting along Clear Creek and other streams long before the highways, bridges and sewer treatment plants came along and pushed them and now us out of the way.... for the sake of "progress".
I am sorry I didn't think to get a quick picture of her, next time I see her I will ask if that would be okay.

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