Cape Horn

The Gold Diggings of Cape Horn

John Randolph Spears (b. 1850) was a well-traveled journalist at turn of the century, eventually writing nearly a dozen books, primarily on nautical and maritime themes. This early title is about the land, sea, flora, fauna, and cultures of South America’s southernmost region. The “gold diggings” from the title are mostly done on the east coast of Tierra del Fuego, where, after heavy storms, gold shows up on the black sands. The quest for gold often creates conflicts with indigenous communities of the area, which Spears takes great care to describe with sensitivity (for the times).

Sea Routes to the Gold Fields

This book is a reprint of the original, so many of the black-and-white images are fuzzy. Nevertheless, it is a very exciting read. Many people assume that the prospectors who participated in the California Gold Rush traveled there overland from the eastern states. But it was actually a worldwide gold rush, with many prospectors traveling by sea. Even prospectors from Maine often traveled by sea. Because the Panama Canal had not yet been built, travelers to California had to sail around Cape Horn.