The Nation: A New Gold Rush

The yearning to get rich quick never dies. All over California and the Pacific Northwest, abandoned gold mines are being prepared for reopening, and general stores in gold-producing areas are doing big business in over-the-counter sales of picks, shovels, mining pans and how-to pamphlets. One Seattle manufacturer of portable metal-detection devices reports that so far this month sales to amateur and professional gold prospectors have increased 150%. "Literally thousands of people are coming through our office asking directions to the gold fields," says Will Summers, tourist director of California's Amador County. "Sometimes I think I'm back in the 1880s."

Is there really...

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