Death Valley Encampment: Travel Back with the '49ers

Journey back, through the decades, to the Gold Rush era, complete with music, stories, and costumes.

TALES OF THE GOLD FIELDS? Californians know them well, whether they learned about them in school, or on a documentary series, and while driving along Highway 49. We know the names of all the major figures of that boom-big era of our state's history and we know about its glittery-gold draw, the lure that drew thousands upon thousands of hopeful souls looking to make a memorable strike. Revisiting their travels, and how some got stuck, and how some turned back, and how others plugged on to the area in and around Sacramento and Placerville is a fascinating exercise, one that is made even more interesting when costumes and tales and a stunning setting is involved. And if that stunning setting is inside...

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK? We must be talking about the annual Death Valley '49ers Encampment, a week-long event that includes a multitude of happenings both for the '49ers and those visitors who want to dip into the historical activities for an hour or a day. The Encampment includes Historical Character Reenactments by Steven Hale, and educational talks, too, if you want to delve into how people headed for the gold fields fared along the way. But the week has other doings, like an art show, a fiddling & picking contest, gold panning, a pioneer costume contest, and more. It's all fiddling, picking, and panning around Furnace Creek from Sunday, Nov. 5 through Sunday, Nov. 12, making it one of the liveliest moments in Death Valley (true, a lively place in many beautiful ways, but a place that's generally more silent than not). 

READY TO TRAVEL BACK... to time around 1849, in a region that's not the western foothills of the Sierra? It's another slice of knowledge-filled fun for those students of the Gold Rush, but one with a definite desert vibe.

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