I have remarked several times on the fact that the late 1880s were a time of great social experimentation. The Civil War had not only split the country geographically, but it had also torn apart the social and moral fabric of its people. Many folks were looking for something they could believe in, and the era gave rise to Utopian or idealistic religious and social movements. The medicinal water craze of the late nineteenth century was a somewhat tangible manifestation of this "searching for a cure" mentality. During this time, there was great tolerance for new ideas. Many people were chasing pipe dreams, and some of the ideas and movements that arose were downright whacky.
An example is the gold mine started by William Henry Kruse at his father's Rogers, Arkansas, farm in 1905. The idea that great deposits of gold lay beneath the soil of his father's farm near a wild apple sapling had first come to him in a "vision" during the late 1800s. Family members looked but could not find such a sapling. Kruse's visualizations and psychic revelations, however, became so persistent and strong that he finally traveled from his home in Minnesota to his father's farm in 1902 and located the sapling himself. He had a sample of soil assayed. Although it revealed only faint traces of gold, as any sample might have, that was enough to confirm for Kruse that he was on to something.
Mining operations officially began at the site on September 15, 1905, to considerable fanfare, when thirty men and seven teams of horses were employed and a procession of people marched from downtown Rogers to the farm at the edge of town to watch. Eventually several mine shafts were dug and smelters were built, but no rich vein of gold was discovered. Still, Kruse was undeterred. The operation finally stalled about 1912 but did not die out altogether until his death in 1925.
The remarkable thing about the Kruse Gold Mine, as it relates to my previous comments about Utopian movements, is that Kruse was not motivated by greed or a desire for wealth. Rather his vision was that he would share the immense wealth buried on the farm to help alleviate world poverty. Instead, he succeeded only in leaving himself and his family impoverished.