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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Dangers of Gold Fever

I want to tell you a true story about a young man and his family who suffered the consequences of "gold fever."  He was a truck driver for a sea food supplier which supported his wife and child.  He was good at his job and was in no danger of being laid off or losing his job.  TV programs had piqued his interest in gold prospecting and he dreamed of making easy money and not having to work for the rest of his life.  He studied some maps of his state and just knew that he could find gold if he went to where there were streams and mountainous terrain.

Thinking he had the formula for finding gold, he quit his job, bought some basic equipment and packed up the wife and child to find his retirement.  You should be able to guess what happened.  Three and a half months later he returned seeking his old job, broke, homeless and not one piece of gold to his name.  He found nothing!  Even more unfortunate was that his position in the company had been filled and there were no openings.  That is where I and his boss lose contact with him.

His boss was a friend of mine and told me the story of his employee.  My friend knew that I was into prospecting as a hobby and would be interested in this situation.  Although this situation is extreme, i beleive there is an important lesson in it.

I too sometimes dream of finding the mother lode, but I also realize it is only a temporary dream.  I concentrate on areas that are not known for producing gold only because I would like to open up new areas for the shear thrill of finding something that no one else has ever found.  I'm not concentrating on getting rich, but rather the thrill of the hunt and possible discovery. 

So here is some advice for anyone struck with gold fever and even those who are considering gold prospecting as a hobby.  First know that the odds of finding gold are in fact very, very slim.  Even if you find gold it is usually in such small amounts that making a month to month living is almost impossible.  Secondly this is a very expensive hobby.  Factor in the cost of transportation, gasoline, wear and tear on the vehicle and repairs which occur because of the back roads that one must use to get to the gold fields.  Then you have the cost of equipment that you need to be effective.  This can range from the very basics of a $100 or slightly more to thousands for truly effective equipment.  I have invested well over $1,000 as a hobbyist with the most expensive cost being transportation.  I spend a minimum of $50 or more every time I go to one of my prospecting locations.  Finally spend the time to ecucate yourself in geology, equipment needed and locations where gold has been found. 

So if you think you can find gold stick to the beginner's basics until you have enough experience to produce enough gold to make it worthwhile to spend the time necessary to satisfy your "gold fever."  Think, plan and study - "gold fever" can be dangerous.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Correction to Miner's Moss

I have always wanted my posts to this site to be accurate and honest.  Unfortunately my report of the amount of gold garnered from processing moss off rocks was overstated.  I had taken a nephew of mine with me on that trip and when we returned home I asked him to weigh the gold.  He took the tube and weighed it with water and all.  I picked up the tube yesterday and thought the gold amount did not look like even a gram.  I weighed the gold after removing the water and zeroing the scale to compensate for the tube.  It just over 2 pennyweights.  Sorry for the confusion. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Nature's Miner's Moss for Gold Prospecting

All too often we overlook the obvious when prospecting for gold.  We dig holes looking for that elusive nugget we run our metal detectors back and forth, back and forth until finally we hear something that might lead us to gold we move cobbles since streams hoping that somehow it will expose all that gold just sitting there.  We use miner's moss in our sluices and dredges to catch the gold that is mixed in with all the dirt and rocks that we put through and yet we ignore the most obvious place and simplest means of finding gold in our streams

Yes, this is it the moss that grows on the rocks at the edge of the stream.  Early spring gives us the best chance of reading the moss correctly.  I always look for the moss that has spent slightly downstream showing me that it sometime during the winter water ran over it during high water times.  Then I take my gold pan and fill it with water.  I peel the moss.  I have selected from the rock and wash it thoroughly in the gold pan.  I also scrape any dirt that was left on the rock after the moss was peeled and put it in the gold pan.  I'm now ready to pan everything I had collected from the moss and the rock.


My partner and Iwill be back here working the stream in earnest.  This is the result of five minutes of work.  Notice the amount of black sand in the pan ..  I worked this section of the stream doing nothing but moss for one hour.  That one hour netted me nearly 1 g of gold.  It is still very early spring and the stream is extremely high with runoff.  Late in the spring or early summer we will return with the dredge and sluice to work this area properly.   We'll use the sluice to wash the moss.,   I'll let you all know how we do later this summer. 

Once the moss dries it is very difficult to release it gently from the rocks .  The sediment that is in the moss turns to dust with the heat from the sun.  During that time , we use a portable vacuum to clean the rock and gather the moss which we then wash as usual , then we pan the dirt that is collected in the vacuum.  This is a very time-consuming process , and we prefer to work the Moss while it is still fresh and green in spring and very early summer.

I always like to hear from my readers about their experiences when prospecting for gold tell me if you've had any luck processing the moss on the edge of streams .  Good luck and go process some moss.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Gold Prospecting in Drought Areas

California is currently considered a drought area.  I'm convinced that over the next few years droughts will become ever more present.  Global warming will cause all of us to have to adapt to ever changing climates and conditions for prospecting for gold.  Perhaps we might consider this a renewed opportunity to find that rare nugget that we read about from time to time.

First let me say that I know little about prospecting in desert conditions, but I have experimented with metal detecting in the high deserts of the Northwest.  I feel that metal detecting will be the most effective means of prospecting in drought conditions.  Couple that with good geological research and you just might hit the big one.  There are a few metal detectors that are made specifically for gold.  They operate on a different frequency than the normal detector.  Usually they are quite expensive when compared to the norm.  I find that my $400 detector is quite adequate for dry detecting even though the signal for gold and iron overlap. 

Use of the metal detector in dry streams is probably one of the most effective ways to prospect.  This would be especially true in California where power dredges are not allowed on any streams.  Where there is no water even the non powered equipment is of no use.

Streams that are very low with some flowing water are excellent candidates for prospecting.  The lower water allows you to reach places that are normally not available because of deep water.  Here normal prospecting equipment can be used.

Obviously I am no expert.  Any input that you might have would be greatly appreciated not only by me, but by my many readers.  Drought conditions are something that all of us will probably have to face in the near future.  So leave a comment and your suggestions.  Thank you.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Skunked Metal Detecting

The reality of chance in metal detacting finally caught up with me.  During the last three years I have never come away from a day metal detecting without finding something of value whether it be a current coin, fishing gear or some piece of costume jewelry.  This January taught me a lesson.

I went to a popular fishing beach which during good weather is also populated with sun bathers and picnicers.  I spent the entire day swinging my metal detector side to side and found only beer cans, pull tabs and nails.  There was nothing in my path that made my heart speed up a bit. 

The day was not a total waste.  I was able to enjoy fresh air and a walk of nearly two miles.  The scenery renewed my need to be out in nature and lifted my spirits.  I would not give up my adventures in metal detecting and gold prospecting for anything.

My advice to all of you is be patient and don't give up.  There are so many benefits of the two hobbies to say nothing of the excitement of the hunt.  Reality says that there will be days with nothing found except a renewal of the body and spirit.  Have fun and keep at it.  I am!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Discovered - 2 Gold Mines + 1

This last summer we got off track from our usual placer mining. One day while waiting for my car to be repaired at a dealership I found myself talking to a retired state employee. He told me about a gold mine that was located under a bridge on a well-known highway. I was familiar with the bridge in the highway and questioned him about the geography of the location to verify that this was just not some tall tale. He gave me accurate descriptions and made statements that said he had been there. I was intrigued to say the least.

I decided I would investigate the story for myself to see just exactly what was there. The bridge spans a canyon that is 300 to 500 feet deep from the road grade. The slope of the walls of the canyon is 60° or greater all the way to the bottom of the canyon. It takes safety ropes and extreme caution to descend the canyon walls. I discovered in my dissent that in fact the mine was where he said it would be.

A cursory inspection showed that the mine was unsafe and unworkable. The mine lies directly under a high traffic major highway. This direction under the highway follows the same path as the highway above. It became obvious that the vibration from the highway would eventually completely collapse the mine itself and make any continued work absolutely unsafe. Though it is an interesting discovery there is nothing that can be done to revive the mind or even further explore its depths. It will always remain a mystery as to who put it there and what lies within.

The discovery of the mine did pique my curiosity. I looked for some record of the mine in old claims and even some local legends. Nothing could be found. I then began to think that there might be more mine locations for which there was never any claim filed and only some verbal legend about an abandoned gold mine. So it was that another conversation took me about 35 miles away. Next to a small stream that fed another stream I discovered piles of tailings. I could not find any opening to a mine so it is undetermined whether this was a placer operation or an actual hard rock mine. The location can only be reached by foot and the onset of winter has made access to the site very difficult. We will be exploring the site more thoroughly during the spring and summer of 2014.

There is another unrecorded gold mine that we have known about since we were children. My partner once went into the mine as a child. Now as adults we plan to go back to the mine and survey its condition. The mine was started and worked by a distant relative of my partner around 1910 to 1920. It was his family's stories that led us to the mine as children.

There is a fourth mine worked by the Indians of the area in the early 1800s that we would like to find. We have a description of the geology rather geography surrounding the mine that we have been trying to match to a location. Time will tell whether we will ever find this one.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What's Coming from the Idiot Gold Prospector

Since my disaster with losing all of the 2012 video I've updated my video equipment with new cameras and editing software.  I'm going to be testing new equipment, introducing a new invention and testing new approaches to using equipment.  Now how crazy can that be?

I'll be testing the Gold Hog mat system for both sluicing and dredging.  I've converted the plastic California Sluice to the Gold Hog mat.  Gold hates plastic and the California Sluice was proof of that.  Subsequent tests of the plastic sluice showed that it was completely useless.  I'm eager to see the Gold Hog in action.

I'll be testing a dual power system for small dredges.  It may or may not work, but I want to know if it helps prevent blockages that just waste time.  If it works it could help many of us.

I've invented a means for the aged (very mature) hobbyist and those with some kind of disability to enjoy dredging without a wet suit.  I get such a kick out of the hobby that I wanted to make it accessible to everyone.  In theory my invention would even make dredging possible for those in a wheelchair.  

So that's my plan for this summer.  Dredging season starts in just a few days and I can't wait to get out on the streams.  Keep checking back for reports on all my crazy ideas and tests.  Now go get some gold and enjoy the thrill of the find.