“There’s gold in them thar hills!”

It’s a quote often attributed to Mark Twain’s character, Mulberry Sellers. But here’s a lesser known fact: Sellers’ character was inspired by M.F. Stephenson, a Georgia geology and mineral expert, who exclaimed this while trying to persuade miners to stay in Georgia instead of joining the California Gold Rush.

It’s tidbits like this that one learns when sitting down with Ed Hendershot, who owns Aspen Grove Rustics on Heber’s Main Street; a unique shop filled with antiques, rocks and mining ore samples — but that’s minimizing his credentials. He’s also the CEO and founder of Medical Vanguard, a firefighter/EMT, survivalist and former cop. Basically, if Indiana Jones and one of the investors from “Shark Tank” had a lovechild, Ed would be it.

Ed’s family settled in the Wasatch Back about 160 years ago. His family lore is filled with anecdotes about the Pony Express, Wild West-style shootouts at high noon and, yes, mining the surrounding mountains for precious minerals.

That family history — stories of claim jumpers and mother lodes — is what prompted Ed and family members, Carey and Vahl, to start CEV Mining Adventures. Equal parts historical field trip and landscape safari, CEV Mining Adventures delivers family-friendly expeditions that offer everything from sluicing instruction to ghost town tours, wildlife viewing to geology lessons.

MINING ADVENTURES Visit a working claim and mine for gold and other minerals. Ed and his team will show you how to pan and sluice for gold and provide all the equipment needed.

HISTORICAL TOURS The Pony Express, Overland Stage Line, The Donner Party Trail, Transcontinental Railroad, historical battleground sites and ancient pictographs are all on the list.

GHOST TOURS From gruesome Old West murder sites to historical events, you’ll learn to appreciate each town’s unique, if not colorful past. Expert commentary allows these long-forgotten towns to come to life again — with stories so vivid, you might just hear a stagecoach! Wild horses and burros are often spooked on these trips as well.

OVERNIGHT CAMPING Mix and match the above noted tours for the ultimate, several day excursion. For those who prefer a little more luxury, CEV Mining Adventures offers “glamping” options too.

“We are the only adventure group with commercial rights to the Pony Express, Donner Trail and Transcontinental Railroad in the state of Utah,” Ed explained. “And our guides have personal and extensive knowledge of the land and the area. So we o° er more than what you can learn in a history book. We o° er stories from our ancestors that have been passed down from generations.”

All CEV Mining Adventures include transportation to sites, authentic Old West-inspired meals and trained first responders. Itineraries are customizable depending on group size and interest. For more information or to book your trip, visit: CEVMiningAdventures.com and visit Aspen Rustics in Heber filled with antiques, rocks and mining ore samples.

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