Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.
We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
Forty-Niners Folk Song by Chel Owens
I’ll tell ya ’bout the year we seen
A thousand-thousand chasing dreams
They sought for El Dorado’s prize
‘Neath California’s azure skies
All day long
Sing this song
Ned left his wife and their love-nest
Left their new babe to go out West
He ain’t found gold, but don’t you fret
He’s learned to dig and drink and bet
All day long
Sing this song
Jim found some dust away down there
He spent it all on golden hair
Next day, Jim panned and found some more
He went right back to that ol’ h-ore…
(Final chorus, past the word count)
All day long
Sing this song
Courage by Saifun Hassam
Will, 17, joined the 49ers’ wagon train bound for California, leaving Kentucky, coal mines, and tobacco fields. An apprentice carpenter, he planned to pan for gold. Carpentry would provide bread and butter until he struck it rich.
One evening a fiddler played a haunting Appalachian song. A woman began to sing. An appreciative crowd gathered at the fiddler’s wagon. Charlie Newman, Innkeeper. Patti, the young singer, his daughter.
Will wept silent tears for his old home. Patti, one leg crippled, stood tall. She was a 49er, daring, courageous, seeking a new future. He would stand tall, as she did.
A New Start? by JulesPaige
All that glitters t’ain’t gold. But Shelby followed her pappy. After all he was the only one left after illness or starvation took out most of her close kin. She had loved her mountains, but the bitter cold winters – that she could do without. Shelby reckoned there’d be other things to fear, other animals besides the other starry eyed dreaming people that were all rushing to the same thing.
Just to be on the safer side, she raggedly cropped her hair short and wore her dead brother’s clothes. Iffin’ anything happened to pappy, she’d be fending for herself.
From Hopeless to Hopeful by Gary A. Wilson
I want to share my news.
After surviving being snowbound with Mr. Donner, I’ve been trying to forgive myself for how we survived.
With the gold rush I obtained a stake near Placerville, but even modest supplies cost every dollar I had — and I found no gold.
I wanted to marry the nurse who helped me recover, but would not because I was broke.
I’m writing to report that I’ve accepted an offer from her father to manage his tarp business thanks to my textile experience in Boston.
His name is, Levi Strauss.
With Love, James.
The Housekeeper by Madeline Murphy
Miss Mary Ellen placed the pies outside to cool. Every day she made many for the gold miners. They paid good money, starving as they were for comfort food from wives left behind. Later, she would check on her laundry business in town, then the boarding house. Tonight she had a family of five staying with her. She replenished the special room in her attic with food and bedding. No one would suspect the Black housekeeper to be a wealthy abolitionist helping with the Underground Railroad during California’s gold rush. Her business savvy made her a powerful millionaire entrepreneur.
Pacific Seas (Part I) by D. Avery
The California Gold Rush began as New Bedford surpassed Nantucket as whaling capital of the world.
By the 1830’s whaleships big enough to sail the Earth’s oceans were too big for Nantucket’s sandy harbor. The 1846 fire destroyed one-third of downtown Nantucket, significantly damaging whaling infrastructure. When gold was discovered in 1848 many of Nantucket’s ships sailed for California. By 1850, 650 Nantucket men had headed west, with hundreds more to follow.
Just as with whaling, many women were left behind. Maybe this is why Nantucket’s greater legacy has been strong entrepreneurial women with a proclivity for social activism.
Pacific Seas (Part II) by D. Avery
Though her San Francisco businesses made Nantucketer Mary Ellen Pleasants very rich, she did not go to California in 1852 seeking gold, but to avoid persecution for her work with the Underground Railroad in the previous decade.
The “mother of civil rights in California”, Mary Ellen Pleasant often stated that she’d “rather be a corpse than a coward”, and her actions were as strong as her words. Herself born into bondage, Pleasants tirelessly fought slavery and continued after the war to help people be safe, secure, and prosperous. Within her lifetime her enemies tried to rewrite her remarkable story.
Pacific Seas (Part III) by D. Avery
Mammy’s hid behind many names. Had to.
She give John Brown money for his raid, even bought houses up in Canada for folks to go after his raid. Went back east herself and rode horseback to the plantations around Harper’s Ferry to warn slaves around there to be ready to go after the raid.
You’ll never know half what that woman done for all us folks. Bought some out of slavery, helped folks get to California, set folks up in houses, businesses and farms; hid fugitives, hired lawyers.
Mammy didn’t just save me. She showed me how to live.
Gold Rush Aspirations by Colleen. M Chesebro
Trixie’s dress rustled as she delivered another round of ale to the group of 49ers seated at the table.
“Hey, Trixie, when I strike it rich will you marry me?” murmured one man as he stroked her leg.
Trixie answered, “Sure, but you’ll have to show me your gold first.” The men howled with laughter.
She knew it was the ale talking. None of these men would marry a whore. Besides, she owned a stake upriver from Sutter’s Mill.
The weight of the gold sewed into the hem of her dress made her smile. Soon, this bordello would be hers!
Finding More Than Gold by Sadje
They came in 1849. Dusty caravans, hungry, hopeful people dreaming of striking it rich. Mason was among the first ones. He did the stuff others were doing but soon realized a very important fact.
Not everyone who was looking for gold would find it. But everyone needed to eat needed to buy soap or other necessities of life.
Taking a loan from a shrewd businessman, he set up a small one room store. Gradually it becomes popular because of Mason’s straight dealing and honesty.
Not everyone found gold, but Mason landed on his feet as he found his niche.
Gold Does Not Always Glitter by Doug Jacquier
The Australian 1851ers, inspired by the Californian 1849ers, flocked to goldfields across Australia, doubling its population in 10 years. Amongst the immigrants seeking their fortune were thousands of Chinese, whose skills and work ethic, especially on sites abandoned by other miners, brought them great rewards. Australian, American and German miners resented this and, in the tradition of the 49ers, regularly brutalised and murdered the Chinese. The Government soon after banned Chinese immigration. The ‘White Australia Policy’ effectively remained in place for the next hundred years. Gold does not always glitter and the romance of history hides some awful truths.
Pioneers of Another Sort by Duane L Herrmann
Some pioneering is conducted in spiritual endeavors. Some have risked family position and wealth to stand for what they believe. They sacrifice to create a social network where equality of women, and of skin color, are foundational, not ideals, and coercion is forbidden. Where science is essential to human progress, farming is the most important occupation, education is second. The name is different and persecuted. What firmness is necessary to persevere? Some die once, others sacrifice again and again and again. Yet, gradually, new social networks emerge, grow and converge to change the world as more learn about Bahá’í.
A Plague of Gold by Bill Engleson
“It is tempting, Samuel. And we have Saints there already.”
“Some have fallen to the lure, Brigham. They will not be returning.”
“Take hold of yourself, Samuel. We have not lost them. Indeed, they will never be lost to us. Daily we have those from the east passing through our valley seeking provisions. Our crops have begun to flourish. Those starving for gold need to eat. We should send a contingent of brothers to California. Miners for Zion. Our people are true, the vision clear.”
“I hope you are right.”
“You will lead the expedition, Samuel. Go with God.”
Gold Dust by D. Avery
He pressed the lock of golden hair to his lips before returning it to the small pouch meant for gold nuggets.
That there were no gold nuggets hadn’t mattered. They’d both come to California as much for adventure as to find fortune. Then they found each other and were soon imagining a future rich in shared plans and dreams.
He paused in his carving, knowing that Lucas’ last name was part of the past he’d wanted to leave behind.
Smiling through tears, he finished inscribing the wooden cross, giving his own last name to his dear Lucas.
49er by Ann Edall-Robson
“Miss Ann says she’s a 49er.”
“She’s older than that!”
“Norman! Watch what you say.”
“Well, isn’t she, Buttons?”
“I’m not asking her.”
“Not asking me what, Buttons?”
“Oh, um, Norman wants to know what a 49er is.”
“No, I said you had to be older than 49.”
Laughing, she patted the Hereford calf.
“Buttons is right, I am a 49er, but it has nothing to do with my age and everything to do with where we live — north of the 49th parallel, in Canada.”
“And Norman, you’re right, I am older than 49.”
“I told you, Buttons!”
The 49ers Facebook Group by Anne Goodwin
She beamed when her phone pinged with a new notification. Her request to join the 49ers had been approved. Supported by her peer group, she’d learn to manage middle age.
Her peer group? Images of surgically-sculpted doll-like masks. Wrinkled faces framed by wispy orange hair. Miss Havishams stuck at forty-nine since she was in her cot.
She closed the app and texted friends and family. She’d warned them previously: No surprise parties! No fifty badged cards! She’d changed her mind, she told them. Hitting fifty was a cause for celebration: all that life behind her, all that fun ahead.
The 49ers by Nancy Brady
My brother-in-law Adam was a Baby Boomer, born after World War II (1946 to 1961). Until recently, Boomers were an influential group of people because of sheer numbers.
Adam, however, was a special part of the Baby Boomer generation. He wasn’t alone. There are plenty of famous people who qualify. They include Meryl Streep, John Belushi, Pablo Escobar, and a serial killer.
Adam wasn’t a serial killer although he probably killed some cereals in his time. His favorite was Sugar Crisp, but Cheerios would do in a pinch.
Author’s Note: He and the others mentioned are all 49ers, born in 1949.
Peerless by D. Avery
“Why are those people with the high-def hair all taking selfies?” Joan asked.
“The 49ers. Using their phones as mirrors, checking to see if their roots are showing.”
A group of women waved them over. Joan’s older friend introduced her before they sat down.
“49ers? What’s that?”
A gray-haired woman explained. “The 49ers won’t admit to aging.”
“Too bad for them, they don’t know what they’re missing,” laughed another.
“First time though? Some of them have been 49 for years!”
“They call us the Crones.”
“Maybe I’m too young?”
“You’re okay. Never too young to start learning.”
The ’49ers by Norah Colvin
The history buffs needed a name for the trivia competition — nothing mundane and overused like ‘The No Hopers’ or boringly obvious like ‘Work Mates’ — something meaningful, not overly obvious, but not too obscure.
“How about The ’49ers?” one suggested.
“Perfect!” the others agreed.
No one thought too much about the monikers of others, but was it coincidental that each week The ’49ers scored exactly 49? Another team scoffed.
“Should have been ‘Clueless’.”
“They’re certainly not all 49.”
“Forty-nine and more, I’d say.”
When the night’s theme was the gold rushes, the researchers showed their mettle and panned the gold.
Categorical Confusion by Kerry E.B. Black
The live studio audience quieted when the gameshow host approached the next contestant. He straightened his pile of index cards and cleared his throat. “Hello, Naryia. What’s your choice for the next category?”
With a charming smile, she leaned over the game show podium to access the microphone. Her voice lilted, “I’ll take Forty-Niners, please, Pat.”
“The Forty-Niners?” The host ‘s brows rose. “I’m surprised.’
Her giggle burbled nervousness. “Why’s that?”
“You said you didn’t follow sports.”
Her brows mirrored his. “What do sports have to do with anything? I love U.S. History.”
The audience’s chuckles joined the host’s.
Tessa’s Invitation by Sue Spitulnik
At the wedding, Doctor Stelzenmuller said, “Tessa, do you know Michael refused to try the prosthetic legs until he learned about your divorce. Then he acted like a ’49er on his way to the gold rush, racing to become proficient so he could get back home.”
Tessa laughed, embarrassed by the truth. “I’ve heard it was your hounding that made him accept them.”
“My efforts were a small factor. Please come along next time I invite him to D.C. Let my soldiers see that they can accomplish normalcy.”
“I’d love to. It would help me understand his achievements better.”
Author’s Note: Doctor Claire Stelzenmuller was Michael’s physical therapist while healing. Her patients called her Clarice Alphabet because she didn’t accept no for an answer.
He Who Hesitates by Geoff Le Pard
Little Tittweaking’s council’s standing orders provide that nothing is decided if any one member adopts the 49ers stratagem. The origins of this local filibuster is long forgotten but easily understood. If an item – verge-trimming, say – is put to a vote those opposing (usually Mrs Owl-Eerie) are required to forcibly interrupt proceedings with a continuous hesitation, thus blocking the chair from putting forward its motion (technically a ‘forced constipation’). These days that is achieved by the utterance of a continuous stream of 49 ‘ers’. Some say this quaint provision exemplifies the gold standard of local democracy in action.
Fools Gold by Myrna Migala
A young mother was surprised to see her son captivated by schoolwork, particularly one book. “What’s going on, son?”
Looking up from his book, the child said, “Reporting on the California gold rush, everyone seems to admire this guy Sutter, but when you read his life story, I wonder why?”
Pointing to the book, he said, “See here, read one of Sutter’s quotes, ‘The Indians began to be troublesome all around me, killing and wounding cattle, stealing horses, and threatening to attack us. I was obliged to make campaigns against them and punish them!’ It sounds like fools gold.”
Innocence and Curiosity by Sam Kirk
It’d been a long day for Teddy – first classes, then homework – when all he wanted to do was watch Power Rangers. He hoped that dinner would consist of chicken nuggets and fries so he could devour it quickly.
As luck would have it – baked salmon and pea puree. Yuck!
Defeated, Teddy moved pieces of food around the plate.
“Just go to bed already.”
Teddy opened his mouth in disbelief. “Is it because you want to 49 Mom?” he asked.
“That’s what Tim said adults do when their kids are sleeping,” he added, seeing the confusion on his parents’ faces
Bar 49 by Hugh W. Roberts
“Who’re all these men in this old photo, Gran?”
“That’s my grandfather with a group of men known as the 49ers.”
“Yes. Unfortunately, they all died in Auschwitz.”
“The concentration camp?”
“Yes, and you’re old enough to know the truth. In Berlin, the men were all arrested in a bar known as ‘Bar 49.’ Homosexuals frequented it. They were rounded up, made to wear the symbol of a pink triangle and taken, some with their families, to Auschwitz.”
“Gran, I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry, Carl. Be happy that you are marrying the man of your dreams tomorrow.
Striking Gold by Irene Waters
Agatha C clutched the keys to 1949 Lode Street in one hand and some documents in the other. “Finally it’s mine. Time for pay dirt,” she muttered, throwing the keys and contract onto the bench. She smiled as she unfolded the other document carefully. The removalists would bring the necessary tools.
Later she paced exactly nineteen steps from the back gate and forty nine steps from the easterly fence and started digging, hitting metal within minutes. “I’ve struck gold” she thought. Opening the metal box she poured through the manuscripts she’d written twenty years before. This time they’d sell.
Same but Different by Simon
49ers Super Bowl game.
She tried to impress a player on game being a big fan of him.
The Board ‘I Love You’ with his name were all over media.
By end of the game, one hit crushed his ribs.
She worked at same hospital he got admitted.
Her heart crushed when she saw his girlfriend. Fate had other plans, he has a twin brother, he gave a bouquet of flower to her and proposed in the middle of the hospital. She couldn’t say no, she desired someone else but getting a lookalike, she thanked God, and said ‘Yes’.
The Rush of 49ers by Charli Mills
Static crackled. “Calling all 49ers. Ship of Dreams ready to fly.”
Reg pumped her brother’s bike. She hated the frills of the one her grandparents bought her in Sacramento. With one hand gripping handlebars, the other clutching a borrowed walkie-talkie – her dad would never know – Reg answered. “10-4, Good Buddy. 49er #2 nearby.”
Reg skidded to a stop at the mountain creek where the town got their water. A hoist-and-pulley cart used to access the treatment plant across a narrow gorge swung unlocked. The Ship of Dreams. The 49ers, a club of ten-year-old girls, got a rush sneaking rides.
Finite by D. Avery
Pa and me we did okay then but weren’t what came to be known as ‘49ers.
When word got out about the big strike we just kept doing what we’d always done. Pa explained it to me, said you could still find the stuff anywhere, just in small amounts. Said hoping for the motherlode wasn’t worth the risks, said those boomtowns were too dangerous. Times are tough enough, let alone when thousands of people scrabble over finite resources.
We find some here and there, make it last, keep quiet about it.
Just like in 2049, people kill for water.
Rushin Ta Conclusions by D. Avery & A. Kid
“Come up with a story yet Kid?”
“What’s the rush Pal? Whyn’t ya mine yer own business?”
“Yer lame gold rush puns ain’t gonna git ya a story, Kid. Stories got a beginnin, a middle, an a endin.”
Once upon a time there was… a pig that lived… on a ranch. An one day the pig was rootin around when she dug up some shiny nuggets. Gold! So her wunnerful owner could afford a private bunkhouse away from a certain aggravatin annoyance an lived happily ever after.”
“Pig found 49 nuggets. An, count them words Pal.”