Thursday, November 20, 2008
A bulldozer digging a foundation for a Monterey High School expansion 60 years ago created an unexpected gold rush when it overturned cans and jars filled with $20 gold coins. The money had been buried a few decades earlier by Will Martin, who trusted neither banks nor paper money. The gold drew a mob that scrambled through the field, following the bulldozer during the days, then digging at night by light of lanterns. "It was a pretty exciting time," recalled Mike Mairoana, who was 12. One of the lucky prospectors, Mike pulled out a can with 37 coins in it. Greedy adults mobbed him, relieved him of most of his find, and shoved him aside. The bulldozer operator saw it all and turned his machine around to move the crowd back from Mike and his "mine" until police arrived to escort the boy home safely. Mike ended up with 14 of the gold coins. He still has 13, which he uses to illustrate occasional talks to children about "the gold rush of Monterey."