When people think of the Northeastern coastal states, gold prospecting rarely comes to mind. The general consensus is often that all gold in the New England states is dust which was dropped by glacier movements. While there is glacial gold dust spread here and there throughout these Northeastern states, there are also some actual gold bearing areas in the New England region. Vermont is one of the better regions in this territory for the recreational gold prospector in the Northeastern US.
Vermont experienced a small gold rush of its own back in 1855 but it fizzled rapidly with the news of great hordes in California. One single hefty nugget of 6.5 ounces was recovered near Newfane in the state’s Southwestern region. The mines in Vermont were mostly abandoned during the California gold rush, but that doesn’t mean the gold supply was completely exhausted. While the amounts of gold are usually not in high enough to be of interest of major mining concerns, they can be quite impressive enough to win the lone prospector a very respectable cache.
Gold has been found in Vermont from the very Southern regions of the state all the way up to the Canadian border, with a concentration of locations in the mid portions of the state. The West and Rock Rivers in the Newfane area where gold prospecting began in the state still provide good sources for the recreational prospector in the states Southern regions. To the North and South of Coolidge State Park are numerous claims and old mining areas. While most are still designated private land, there is much open land around creeks of the area where prospectors can still walk away with a pleasing cache. In the Northern areas of the state The Missiquoi River is known to be a producer as well as is the Colbrook area further East. All in all, ten counties are in Vermont are known to produce gold. These counties are: Addison, Bennington, Chittenden, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Rutland, Washington, Windham, Windsor.
If you are planning to prospect in any of these counties it is a good idea to purchase a USGS mineral map of the county you are interested in prospecting. Make sure you get a map which not only shows mineral and mining areas, but one that shows private property bounties as well. Claim jumping is still a very dangerous prospect (pun intended) and you need to be careful to respect private property boundaries. If you are new to prospecting you will want to try to start your hunt downstream from existing old mining areas getting as close to the mines as possible without trespassing. Once you know a bit about what you are doing you will be more likely to be able to spot other likely areas to prospect on your own more easily. Of course it never hurts to pan any area you happen to find yourself if you haven’t got time to go any further. You can never tell what you might find.
When prospecting in Vermont you always have possibilities of finding many other minerals during the hunt. Galena, garnets, beryl, rutilated quartz, smoky quartz, amethyst, jasper, spinel, olivine, zircon, copper, and a host of other minerals hide in the mountains and streams of the region. Mining operations which focused on gold discarded the other minerals that they dug from the mines. Many of these minerals can still be found in the mine tailings and creeks. Prospectors who keep their eyes open can return with specimens of many beautiful minerals along with their gold cache.
©2010; Sally Taylor