Mother Lode

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Mother Lode,

belt of gold-bearing quartz veins, central Calif., along the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The term is sometimes limited to a strip c.70 mi (110 km) long and from 1 to 6 1-2 mi (1.6–10.5 km) wide, running NW from Mariposa. Popularly it is used to mean the gold-bearing area E of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and W of the Sierra Nevada. The discovery of alluvial gold on the South Fork of the American River led to the 1848 gold rush. Mark TwainTwain, Mark,
pseud. of Samuel Langhorne Clemens,
1835–1910, American author, b. Florida, Mo. As humorist, narrator, and social observer, Twain is unsurpassed in American literature.
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 and Bret HarteHarte, Bret
(Francis Brett Harte) , 1836–1902, American writer of short stories and humorous verse, b. Albany, N.Y. At 19 he went to California, where he tried his hand at teaching, clerking, and mining.
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 helped make the Mother Lode famous.

mother lode

[′məth·ər ‚lōd]
(geology)
A main unit of mineralized matter that may not have economic value but to which workable veins are related.

Mother Lode

name applied to gold-mining region of California. [Am. Hist.: Hart, 569]