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Panning Gold: Where the Heck is “Where You Find It” Located?

Panning Gold: Where the Heck is “Where You Find It” Located?

Sure gold is “where you find it”. Anyone even thinking about taking up prospecting has heard that one. It’s probably the most frustrating answer any beginning prospector ever hears when asking where to look for gold. Where the heck exactly is “where you find it” located and why do people keep telling you that?

While that answer is a bit frustrating for the beginner there is a lot of truth in it. Gold can turn up in some pretty unusual places. Sometimes it has been sprinkled through areas by ancient glaciers or waterways. There are stories of people finding gold and thinking they had found a place to stake a claim, to discover later that they had only found the remnants of some unfortunate prospector’s lost cache. Trains and carts being wrecked while hauling gold to smelters have spilled loads of ore which might be found later in the streams downhill.

While you might run into bits of gold scattered by such events, you might also appreciate a word of where you might be more statistically inclined to make an actual strike of some good concentrations of “color”. It’s really not as mysterious as it has been made to sound.

When you get to a gold bearing region you must choose a spot to hunt. Your main concern is that you are not hunting on someone else’s property or claim. There are places you can still be shot for this, and some places where the claim owners take this right very seriously, so always make sure you know you are not “claim jumping” before you dig in.

The best place for the beginner to start is where you know that there are mines or claims uphill and upstream from your chosen location. Gold will wash downhill into a stream over time. If you can find a spot where a stream flowing downhill from known gold localities converges with the stream you are going to hunt, this is a terrific place to start.

Gold is heavy. It can be carried by a rapid current, but when the current slows down, the gold will drop to the creek bed. Start by hunting down stream from a converging creek or area of color uphill from you. Look for spots in the creek where fast moving water is impeded or slows down. The base of a small waterfall is always worth checking as are areas where the current is diverted by large rocks. Bends of the creek where water rushes in the middle but slows along the shore of the bend are another good area. Don’t be afraid to be creative. I know a man that swept a year’s living expense worth of gold from an old corrugated pipe that ran under a road where a creek passed through. The grooves of the pipe had served as a sluice to catch the grains and nuggets.

When panning, you will want to dig a bit rather than just scoop from the top dirt. You might find some traces of color just scooping the top of the creek bed, but because of its weight, gold will work it’s way down until it eventually hits something that prevents it from going any further. The smaller the grain or the more recently it has been dropped, the closer to the surface you might find it. The deeper you dig, the more you will find if you are searching a good area. Cracks and crevices in rock are also a great place to find grains of gold, but you may need special suction equipment to get it out. There are items you can buy very inexpensively that will help you do that.

Just as there are the right places to look for gold, there are also the right times of year. You will want to wait until late summer or early autumn which is when the streams are at their lowest and slowest. A good plan is to go look the creek over during it’s high season and take notes of the currents when the water is high. Returning later during the low season, you will already have an idea of good places to look for gold that has been spilled by the full spring currents.

Through practice you will soon become able to size up good spots on a creek to pan. When you take your cache and proudly show it off, if someone asks you where you got it, you can just smile and say “it was right where I found it”.

Don’t forget folks — You can find everything you need for a successful gold season at: Black Cat Mining

Gold Prospecting In Vermont

Gold Prospecting In Vermont

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