The story is told in first person POV and takes place during the Great Depression in the United States. Two girls, one from a wealthy family, and one from a poor family whose father killed himself, run away from Clara's family who own a resort hotel in Florida. The girls make it to Oregon and to support themselves they steal from wealthy people at extravagant parties.
Eventually, they believe they are going to the opening of a grand resort Evergreen Lodge at which they read the president might be in attendance
. However, they take the wrong ski lift and arrive at a different place and decide that the 26 young men who worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps are actually dead having been buried alive in an avalanche.
The writing style remains realistic even as the story becomes fantastic, but never really seems to be a dream or nightmare. However, perhaps since the girls often go hungry for days, it's hallucinatory.
"The Prospectors" was first published in The New Yorker and then included in the 2016 edition of The Best American Short Stories. The story is about two dozen pages.
"This period of American history held a special appeal for Clara's father, Mr. Finisterre, a bony-faced Portuguese immigrant to southwestern Florida who had wrung his modest fortune out of the sea-damp wallets of tourists. My own father had killed himself outside the dog track in the spring of 1931, and I'd been fortunate to find a job as a maid at the Hotel Finisterre."