Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Scrap Book
Mark Twain
contents: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Roughing It 1860-1864
select:
Homepage
Learn More
Filmmakers



Being a Miner
 
 

“January 23rd, 1865. Rainy, stormy. Beans and dishwater for breakfast. . . dishwater and beans for dinner, and both articles warmed over for supper.

January 24th: Rained all day—meals as before.

January 25th: Same as above.

January 26th: Rain, beans & dishwater.

January 27th: Same old diet—same old weather.”

Mark Twain, Notebooks and Journals, 1864

Sonora Silver Mining Co. Stock Certificate, August 1863
Sonora Silver Mining Co.
Stock Certificate, August 1863

Courtesy of The Mark Twain Project, Bancroft Library, Berkeley
Portrait, c. 1860
Portrait, c. 1860
Courtesy of The Nevada Historical Society
Audio Real Audio: 56k
“Ham and Eggs and Scenery”

Mining District in Nevada
Mining District in Nevada
Courtesy of the National Archives
 
 

“Higbie and I were living in a cotton-domestic lean-to at the base of a mountain. It was very cramped quarters, with barely enough room for us and the stove—wretched quarters, indeed, for every now and then, between eight in the morning and eight in the evening, the thermometer would make an excursion of fifty degrees...

At last, when we clear out and still had struck nothing, we saw that we must find some other way of earning a living. I secured a place in a near-by quartz mill to screen sand with a long-handled shovel. I hate a long-handled shovel. I never could learn to swing it properly. As often as any other way the sand didn’t read the screen at all but went over my head and down my back, inside of my clothes. It was the most detestable work I have ever engaged in but it paid ten dollars a week and board—and the board was worth while, because it consisted not only of bacon, beans, coffee, bread and molasses, but we had stewed dried apples every day in the week just the same as if it were Sunday. But this palatial life, this gross and luxurious life, had to come to an end and there were two sufficient reasons for it. On my side I could not endure the heavy labor; and on the company’s side they did not feel justified in paying me to shovel sand down my back; so I was discharged just at the moment that I was going to resign.”—Mark Twain, Roughing It, 1872

 
 
Next