My husband and I have been watching Gold Rush, the reality TV show on Discovery Channel, since the first season began. He started watching it before I did. I’d sit at the computer in our living room and hear bits of the show. After a few episodes, I would sit beside my husband on the sofa with a book in my hands and look up from my book occasionally to watch. Before long, I would set the book down and concentrate on the show. I was slowly getting hooked on the series.
For those of you who don’t know the show, Gold Rush features several teams of gold miners, some experienced and some inexperienced. They are currently mining in the Yukon, but have also mined in Alaska and South America. While Wikipedia lists the show as a reality series, it isn’t a competition where teams compete for a prize at the end of the season. They aren’t competing with anyone, except for perhaps themselves. At the beginning of each season, the miners set their own gold total goals, usually higher than what they found the previous season, and work toward reaching or surpassing their goals. Sometimes they walk away at the end of the season with the gold they wanted and sometimes they walk away with little to show for their hard work.
I think that what attracted me to the show is that it’s educational–we get to see how gold is mined, we learn about the various machinery–bulldozers, shaker/trommels, wave tables, pumps, loaders, wash plants, excavators, rock trucks, etc.–and we see how the miners deal with set-backs, broken machinery, accidents, etc. These people must be knowledgeable, creative, and willing to take risks.
When Discovery Channel added Parker Schnabel to the show, I got more interested. Why? Because he was a teenager who was working his grandfather’s gold mine and learning the ropes. His grandfather was his mentor (and still is), and guided him, but let Parker make his own mistakes and own successes. The addition of Parker also gave the show more diversity.
Another thing that attracted me to the show is that we get to know these miners–Todd Hoffman, his father Jack Hoffman, and their crew; Parker Schnabel and his crew; Fred Hurt, his son Dustin, and their crew; and Tony Beets and his crew–and get caught up in their excitement. We root for them to succeed. We feel for them when problems arise. We feel proud of them when they overcome disaster or despair.
Not surprisingly, these miners have developed a following online, too. I’m in several Facebook groups that are for fans of Gold Rush. What I love about the groups is that people who love the series get to discuss it with each other. We also get to chat sometimes with some of the show’s miners. Some Yukon miners who are not on the show are also in the groups, and some of them give insights into the mining process.
Because of my interest in gold mining–though not a desire to try mining–I’m currently beginning my own research into the history of the American Gold Rush. I’m reading some very interesting history books. Why? Because I would love to write a book or two that involves gold mining. I’m thinking about a historical novel or perhaps a time travel novel.