Sierra Rivers

Murphy's Bar

A Tale of Undocumented Miners
Starvation creek, in California, near the town of Hardrock, which is in the Sierras, is a poison oak infested, alder choked canyon with a really nice gold deposit. Starvation Creek was discovered in 1849 but shortly abandoned for better ground. Then in the 1850's the Chinese worked the creek, but abandoned it for better ground. In the 1920's people fleeing the depression bypassed the creek for better ground. In the 1950s some prospectors cut a trail into the canyon and shortly thereafter marketed a salve to treat severe poison oak rash, but they were later charged with fraud by the FDA, and abandoned their claims on Starvation Creek to focus on their legal case. In the 1970s a couple of hippies from San Francisco thought they could park a VW van at the top of the trail and make a living mining gold. They were later arrested for an illegal marijuana farm in the canyon. Finally, in 2008, the two miners in this story staked some dredging claims on Starvation Creek and found there was pretty good gold in this canyon. In 2009 the State of California banned the use of suction dredges, which went entirely without notice by the miners on Starvation Creek, which is where the story begins.

Staking Starvation Creek

Like a lot of bad ideas, it begins at a bar. Murphy's Bar, in Hardrock, isn't just any bar, it is the home of really bad ideas. The way to identify a really bad idea is to look to your left and see if you're sitting next to Bob Flanagan. I'm not saying he originates them, but they do tend to follow him around like puppies. After a few bottles of Old Tailings, the local IPA, even bad ideas begin to sound better. Over time I've developed some resistance to bad ideas but every now and then a new strain of bad idea incubates in Murphy's Bar, and that's where this story begins. A bad idea...

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Attack of the Frogs

RRocky Stone, who owns the bar, probably wasn't cut out to be a bartender. He, at times, lacks a certain amount of discretion his profession normally requires. Having bought Murphy's Bar on eBay, then having no luck reselling it on eBay, or at least not at a huge loss, he's settled into his role of serving beer and dispensing advice. Personally, I wouldn't take advice from a guy who bought a bar off eBay in a town with a population of 21. You can do the quick math on that and figure every man, woman and child in Hardrock would need to buy 3 beers a day for him to just break even...

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Following the regs...sort of


ith spring coming most of us are busy touching up the camouflage on our equipment. By most, I mean Bob Flanagan and I. I believe a well camouflaged dredge acts in harmony with nature. Flanagan says it also keeps my dredge from getting confiscated by the Fish Cops, but I think he always looks at things the wrong way. A camouflage dredge allows hikers an uninterrupted view of scenery without some illegal dredge marring the vista. In this regard I think the California dredging ban has actually improved the environment, perhaps they'll get a grant to ban some other things to support their great work.


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