Not Untrue Tales


Words and image by Roger Gaisford

Tara the Terrible

Money is common enough stuff and is found in most pockets; and gold is commonly seen adorning the wealthy − it has a lovely sheen and speaks of wealth. Found in the wild in its natural state, as specks in rock or as dust in a pan, it fires great excitement. The desire for gold, and the wealth it generates, has spurred many on to try to find the metal – finds that have led to such Ophirs as the Witwatersrand, Kalgoorlie, the Klondike, and even, to a much lesser degree, the Tati in Botswana, where there was once a gold rush. And there it was, that a fellow by the name of Moose got mixed up. Not just with gold, but also with a woman and drink. It was all to do with the moon.

The Tati Concession of North East Botswana is a place of scrub, bush, granite koppies, ridges of rocky schist, and mostly dry watercourses. It lies between the Shashe River in the west and Ramokgwebana River in the east − the border with Zimbabwe. It was here, in 1866, while hunting elephants near the confluence of the Tati and Shashe Rivers, that Henry Hartley had been shown old mine workings by his African guides. He, in turn, took the geologist Karl Mauch to the area, where Mauch confirmed the existence of substantial deposits of gold.

This led to a rush of miners and the establishment of Tati Town, a lively burg, complete with a steam-powered threestamp mill for crushing ore, a hotel, bars, and places of entertainment. Mines with names such as Todd’s Creek, Blue Jacket, New Zealand, New Prospect, Black Jack, Dead Mule and Monarch sprung up. But yields were found to be disappointing.

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