Standing on a narrow bridge over Eagle Creek, weeks before the Detwiler fire ravaged the foothills to the south, Robert Guardiola watches nearly 40 miners spread out. Wearing knee pads and waders, they have begun to organize their equipment — buckets and classifiers, hog pans and cradles — along the edge of the streamInquiry Online
With a floppy hat, ponytail and a white beard that hasn’t been trimmed in 18 years, the 72-year-old looks like a refugee from Knott’s Berry Farm. Even his blue eyes behind silver frames have a bit of a twinkle
For years, especially during the drought, Tait and his friends stood on the riverbanks of California’s Mother Lode alone with their obsession. Now, as record snowmelt scours these watersheds, washing gold into streams, that’s seldom the case
But gold is admired not just for its beauty and worth. In a chaotic world, it speaks with evangelical zeal to values less ephemeral. Populists and politicians champion it as a stabilizer for the dollar. Survivalists see salvation in its worth when civilization collapses
In 2009, the miners complain, a state judge issued an injunction that put a temporary moratorium on the use of motorized equipment near the state’s rivers and streams, putting an end to dredges that suction rocks, sand and pebbles from the bottom of a creek and pumps that circulate water into sluices located high on river banks
They read streambeds, imagining how the current flowed during floods, hunting for any irregularity — a riffle, a ledge, a waterfall — that could create a backward eddy for the gold to escape the water’s momentum and drop to the floor
Late afternoon, after nearly an hour in the water, Guardiola totes two five-gallon buckets up from the creek. One contains trash collected from the shallows: a spark plug, a shotgun shell, a square-headed nail, a spatula and part of a car door
California’s Mother Lode is a lonely place — twisting roads, tall grass, ancient oaks — haunted from the days of 1848, when the Argonauts panned out from Sutter’s Mill. Gold littered the ground like potatoes, then like marbles, and finally a dust they called flour, all totaled: $2 billion extracted by 1852
Their legacy lies not only in the rusted debris and flattened mountains they left behind, but in the blackberries, the fig and apple trees they planted, still growing in these forests, vestiges of their dream
Guardiola, 52, purchased the right to mine these 20 acres in 2001. When he first walked out on this property, he knew he could be happy here. Ten deer, two bucks and fawns browsed beneath the oaks. A stream — Grizzly Creek — cut through the property, which already had two mines on it, always a good sign
Two years ago, the stream was dry. Last year it was a trickle. But this winter brought a torrent of water, and with it, nearly 2 feet of new rock and gravel deposits, called overburden, into the pond, and the water has not stopped flowing
With his face right up against the surface, he muscles a submerged boulder aside — 200 pounds by his estimate — to get at the deeper material. With a choked grip on a short-handled shovel, he fills his gold pan and examines each scoop
Historian H. W. Brands, in his account of the Gold Rush, “The Age of Gold,” writes that the epic quest shaped history “so profoundly because it harnessed the most basic of human desires, the desire for happiness.”
In a former life, Mutschelknaus worked on the kill floor of a meatpacking plant in South Dakota, then as a cross-country truck driver. At 63, he is living his “dream come true,” caretaking 160 acres, a place called Italian Bar, owned by a national prospecting group, the Lost Dutchman Mining Assn
Surrounded by live oak, cedar and sugar pine, Mutschelknaus stands in Silver Creek, having reduced three gallons of material to one-and-a-half cups that he swirls in his pan. On his right hand is a ribbon tattoo in memory of his first wife who died of breast cancer in 2011
Once trapped inside the Earth, gold made its way to California when the Pacific plate crashed into the North American plate, heating up layers of sediment, liquefying rocks and creating a soup that flowed to the surface carrying the gold
Goreham pulls out his purchase tray. A stack of $100 bills lies on top of the zippered baggies and black-lid vials filled with gold: crystalline gold, leaf gold, placer gold, lode gold and gold dust, fine as sand. He’s quick to mention that he doesn’t keep it all on site and what’s here is secured by a .45 semi-automatic loaded with hollow points
His purchases are made from prospectors who scour the nearby hills: plumbers, roofers, air conditioning workers, bank managers, U.S. Forest Service employees, chiropractors and a few who live off the grid
Poe, 55, quit his job in 2009 as the director of loss prevention for a few retail businesses in the Bay Area. Tired of corporate politics, the suit and traffic, he turned to the Sierra, and after researching the equipment, talking to a few old-timers and putting in five days a week, he made in one year a little more than $150,000
In his company, gold mining seems less a get-rich-quick scheme than a libertarian impulse, an exercise in independence and self-determination as much a part of the American heritage as the rights guaranteed by the Constitution
Eager to show what the winter storms did to his claim, Poe leaves his SUV — plastered with its appliques of an American flag, an eagle, the Constitution and a gold pan — in the parking lot, and he and his mining partner, Don Siegel, pile into their so-called scratch truck, better-suited for whatever pin-striping the brush might add to the paint job
Just when the road grows impassable, Siegel stomps on the brakes and cuts the engine. Bull Creek, a braided stream flowing into the Merced River, spreads through a tumult of fallen trees and new and dying vegetation
A prospector made an extraordinary discovery yesterday, when he found an "incredibly rare" 12-pound (5.5-kilogram) gold nugget under only 23 inches of dirt. The total price for such a happy unearthing: a whopping $300,000. And he found it in a place where hundreds searched before, all thanks to state-of-the-art technology.
And it could be even more than that. At current market prices, 12 pounds of gold will get you 298,697 US dollars but, apparently it can reach a higher price because it's such a weird discovery. Geologists are impressed by the finding, which looks like howling jackal to me
The anonymous prospector discovered the nugget in a field near the city of Ballarat, located on the Great Dividing Range in the state of Victoria, Australia, by the Yarrowee River. It's 8.66 inches (22 centimeters) on its longest side
Cordell Kent, the owner of the Ballarat Mining Exchange Gold Shop, told the courier mail that the prospector was shocked by the discovery, just as much as himself: "He thought he had detected the bonnet of a car when he saw a glint of gold. He cleaned the top of it and the gold kept expanding and expanding... he saw more and more gold... he couldn't believe what he was seeing [...] We've got 800 local prospectors on our records. I cannot remember the last time we saw a nugget of this size."
Kent says that, surprisingly, Ballarat is still producing big nuggets after 162 years of gold rush. But this nugget is outstanding. The prospector found it in a nearby place where hundreds of gold diggers have searched before, which makes the event even more surprising. He believes that the difference may have been the equipment. The gold digger used a Minelab GPX-5000, a state-of-the-art metal detector that goes for about $5,200. According to its marketing description:
The GPX 5000 sets the new benchmark in gold detecting technology. With an amazing range of features and functions the GPX 5000 is not only superior to its predecessor, the GPX-4500, and is in a class of its own. Featuring Minelab's exclusive technologies, Multi Period Sensing (MPS), Dual Voltage Technology (DVT) and Smart Electronic Timing Alignment (SETA), the high performance GPX 5000 is capable of finding more gold than ever before. From sub-gram nuggets to the elusive 'retirement nugget' and everything in between, with the GPX 5000, you can find it
New improved electronics, new Soil/Timings and an amazing range of features combined with the legendary GPX ability to ‘see through ground' mineralisation, gives you a significant Depth Advantage over other detectors
It was found by John Deason and Richard Oates in 1869 near Moliagul, Victoria, Australia. It was 171.9 pounds (78 kilograms) gross, 156 pounds (71.0 kilograms) net. The previous record belonged to the Welcome Nugget, which was also found in Ballarat. The gold nuggets in Australia are the purest in the world, "often are 23K or slightly higher." [Courier Mail and Wikipedia]
Stuff like this is very hard to happen in the USA because of something called "Mineral Rights". The rich created that law so in the event they sell property to someone and gold or oil or anything of immense value is found underground... they can come and take it from you. A lot of people don't realize that the houses they own... even if you own the house itself and the property... in many cases... the mineral rights to your property belong to someone else
This was the river that started it all. Gold was first discovered here at Sutter’s Mill, and gold was soon found all throughout the river. This was the richest river in the entire state. Between all the different forks of this river, there are literally hundreds of miles of gold-bearing water here. A great area that you can prospect today is at the Auburn State Recreation Area. This area provides many miles of access for prospecting and other recreational opportunities.
Kernville and Keyesville were the two major mining towns that sprang up when gold was first found in the Kern River. Rich placer deposits were also found in nearby Greenhorn Creek. There is good access at the Keyesville Recreational Mining Area, which provides 400 acres of access for prospectors.
Gold can be found in the Santa Maria River in Southern California. The gold here is very fine, and finding access to the river will be challenging. There are even reports that miners have found gold on the beach in the area where the river enters the Pacific Ocean.
There has been gold found all throughout the San Gabriel Mountains. This has always been a popular area for prospectors due to its proximity to Los Angeles. The East Fork of the San Gabriel River is considered the richest part of the river.
San Diego County has a very rich history, with small mines dotting the landscape of this harsh desert. Placer deposits can be found in many dry washes and gulleys throughout the vast region. No surprise that gold can be panned from the San Diego River.
The Sacramento River flows well west of the richest gold areas in California, but since the waters that feed into it include the Feather River and American River you can bet that there is some gold here too! Since it isn’t as close to the source most of the gold is finer textured.
The Feather River drains the northern extent of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and is part of the richest mining areas in California. Oroville, Nelson’s Camp and Rich Bar were some of the best mining areas, but there are literally dozens of historic mining camps along the Feather River. Miles and miles were churned up by bucket line dredges. There is still plenty of gold here left to find.
The Yuba River is another one of the major gold rivers in California. The town of Downieville was one of the main gold camps during the California Gold Rush. There is lots of gold all throughout the river. Some big gold nuggets have come out of this river as well. Lots of hydraulic mines and dredge fields are located in the Yuba River country.
There is a lot of gold still left to be found from the Cosumnes River. The early miners worked the areas around Indian Diggings, Grizzly Flats, Michigan Bar and Buck’s Bar. This is still rich gold country and worth exploring. The many tributaries to the river throughout the El Dorado Natural Forest offer great prospecting opportunities.
This is another very rich area that is great for gold prospecting. Most of the mining takes place upstream of Lake Don Pedro in the main river, as well as the many creeks that flow into it. You can find gold just about anywhere in this area. Just make sure you are on public land and aren’t on anyone’s mining claim.
One of the main dredging fields in California was at Snelling on the Merced River. The area produced millions in gold over the years, with much of the production coming from the bucket dredges operating in the mid 1900s. The Merced River Recreational Area is a great spot to check out. It offers the opportunity for casual prospecting along a proven area of the Merced River.
This is the longest river in the Mother Lode Country, and many of the richest rivers in California drain into it. Although it was never as rich as the rivers that were close to the source, there is decent gold in many areas. Use a gold pan to check the gravels and see if you can turn up a little “color.”
There are tons of great areas to explore along the Mokelumne River. Some of the earliest camps were Campo Seco, Camanche, Jackson, Lancha Plana, Mokelumne Hill and San Andreas. It wasn’t long after the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill that gold was found on the Mokelumne River.
Rich veins of gold in quartz were located near Angel’s Camp that fed the placer deposits of the Calaveras River. There are many hard rock mines in this area and the river is full of gold. Other gold camps along the Calaveras River include Jenny Lind, El Dorado and Calaveritas.
There were once thousands of miners at the town of Sonora working to recover gold. There were several large hydraulic mines in this area. Hildreth’s Diggings were near the town of Columbia and there were thousands of miners working here too. Today you can pan for gold at the Columbia State Historic Park.
The Klamath River is far north of most of California gold country. Many don’t even realize that there was gold mining up this far, but actually the Klamath River is absolutely loaded with gold. You can recover gold around the town of Yreka, following the road all the way up to Happy Camp. Some very, very big gold nuggets have been mined from the mighty Klamath.
The Trinity River is another great place to prospect for gold. One of the biggest mining camps in this area was at Weaverville. There were some huge hydraulic mining operations here, but there were also many prospectors that searched the small creeks in the area. This area has loads of gold. In fact, I know people who use metal detectors in this area and find many ounces of gold nuggets each year.
The Salmon River is a rich tributary to the Klamath River. You really have to work to get to this area, but it actually was one of northern California’s richest rivers. This flows through a region that the old-timers called the “Northern Mines.” Many great areas to explore in this remote area.
The Scott River is another rich tributary to the Klamath River. It’s a long drive for most people to get here, but it is a really beautiful part of the state with a lot of rich gold mining areas. The river itself certainly has a lot of gold, and you will find that pretty much all the tributaries will produce some gold as well, with a rich gold belt that spans north into Southern Oregon too
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