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Man hits gold with book


Although Willard Fuller has lived in Calaveras County since 1954, he still speaks with a mild Boston accent and maintains the modest reserve of an Easterner.

A retired mining geologist with a passion for Calaveras history, the 85-year-old San Andreas man has spent more than a decade researching and writing about mining in the county.

The University of Nevada Press just published his book, "Calaveras Gold, The Impact of Mining on a Mother Lode County."

The 392-page hardback volume, with its 75 photographs and six maps, is a joint effort of Fuller and retired University of the Pacific Professor Ronald H. Limbaugh.

The two men met in 1972 while working on a pamphlet about the county's geology. Over the years, they had talked about doing a more substantive work.

"About four or five years ago we rolled up our sleeves and finished this," said Fuller. "He did most of the academic writing. I worked on the mining part, and I did a lot of the editing."

Editing is something Fuller does well, having edited the Calaveras County Historical Society's quarterly, Las Calaveras, for more than 20 years.

Society researcher Cate Culver says Fuller's grasp of Calaveras history is immense.

"I'm continually amazed at all he knows," she said. "I'll get stuck searching for something and I'll phone Bill and he'll say, ‘Oh that's in a book up on the second shelf. It has a red cover.' He's an excellent resource on the geology of the region and on the pioneer families of Calaveras."

The Historical Society honored his years of service by dedicating its bookstore and gift shop to him. The dedication plaque was hung in 1999.

Fuller has co-authored or co-edited a number of historical publications including "Pioneer Schools of Calaveras County" and "Madam Felix's Gold, the History of the Madam Felix/Hodson Mining District, Calaveras County, California." But he said his newest volume is the first "real" book he's written because of its academic heft and years of research.

"I worked hard on this book and it made me restudy everything I thought I knew about the county," Fuller said.

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