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Tuesday, March 31 2020

Although “social distancing” has become part of everyone’s new normal, gold prospectors and metal detectorists have traditionally covid-19separated themselves from the masses. Sometimes it’s because we want to keep our secret spot a secret. Sometimes it’s because spouses and friends don’t share our same passion. Sometimes we just need some alone time with Mother Nature to decompress from the modern world. It has been this way for generations, and most likely will continue.  When you think about it, metal detecting is the most solitary form of prospecting, even if you are out with a group of friends. A detectorist knows that distance from others is a vital part of detecting. Detectors hear each other, and there is nothing worse than missing a target because of interference from another detector. As a detectorist, we know this and keep our distance for everyone’s success. It is something that we do without thought. A treasure hunter’s appreciation for being outdoors truly allows us to live in the moment when there is color in the pan or while digging a nugget. That being said, we are also not your stereotypical loner aimlessly wandering with only a faithful dog by our sides. Today’s prospectors are socially skilled and adept at working together, or alone, to get the gold. Most are willing to share our lifestyle with anyone that asks.

Our biggest challenges out in the field, which get easier over time with experience and using new equipment and technology, are learning to read the ground and waterways, and then recovering the gold when we find it. However, this year we face a different challenge with COVID-19, the novel 2019 coronavirus. COVID is more infectious than the flu and the chances of spreading the virus is much greater than spreading the flu. How does this impact us in our quest for the yellow metal? Should we give up one of our favorite pastimes, hobby, or small business? Although each person needs to make their own informed decision, most would say NO. Undeterred, we should continue to head out into the woods or desert (wear snake protection!) where we are many times safer than in the social situations that surround us daily.

Depending on our age and general health, some of us might already face a higher than average risk of having a serious medical issue no matter what we are doing or where we are doing it. Many people already deal with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and more. Not that we can compare these more common maladies to the COVID-19 Pandemic, but the point is that many are already used to taking precautions and living with risks. Folks with existing health conditions have been taking the necessary self-care steps for years, especially when out in the field and far away from a city. How do you protect yourself and others and help flatten the curve until the pandemic is no more? If you want to continue to prospect on a claim, sluice on a waterway, swing a detector, and enjoy the great outdoors this spring and summer, consider these easy tips before you head out:   

  • Fix your own food and drink.  Since you do not have control of how others prepare and serve food (and most eateries are closed anyway), take control of  what you eat and drink. When is the last time you enjoyed a home-made PB&J or tuna sandwich? Pack your own, and take along packaged jerky and chips and candy. Wipe down  packages with a sanitizing wipe. Bring your own bottled water, coffee in a thermos, or something stronger for enjoying around a campfire if you’re spending the night.
  • Carry sanitizing wipes and or hand sanitizer.  In case you can’t find any in the stores right now, make your own reusable wipes with microfiber cloths, aloe vera gel, 91% alcohol, a couple of drops of soap and vinegar.  Use your sanitizer after contact with anyone or anything, including pump handles, keypads, money, credit cards, etc. There is nothing wrong with not shaking  hands when you meet someone. And if you do shake, sanitize. It’s not rude to protect yourself.
  • Wash your hands often and completely.  You’ve heard it a million times since childhood, and the advice has never been more prudent than right now.
  • Do not touch your face. This is one of the easiest ways to transmit outside germs and pathogens into your body, so become aware of how often you touch your face and try hard to change this habit.
  • Don’t fret.  Go through the season knowing you’ve done the very best to protect yourself and others. Enjoy your trip knowing you have everything you need— food, water, piece of mind, and distance—and enjoy the hunt for the gold. Say to yourself “I’m here and nothing else matters right now. I am where I belong.”

Of course, commonsense also tells us that if you feel symptomatic or think you may have been exposed, immediately follow the current COVID-19 health care guidelines. Otherwise, hopefully digging in the dirt will provide you with a level of normality that we would not otherwise have if we stayed at home listening to the news 24/7.  Start planning your next prospecting trip and take advantage of the greatest social distancing project out there! One that has been around since the time man first found gold centuries ago. And what’s better is that social distancing by prospectors is not driven by fear, but by the excitement of getting out there and hunting for gold! Good luck and be safe!

Posted by: Denise AT 12:55 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, February 11 2020

The big gold rushes of the 19th century have long since ended, but in most cases you can still prospect for the precious metal in theseAmerican River Gold Panning same historic areas. If you’re interested in giving recreational gold mining a try but not sure where to go, below are some key locations where you can still find the yellow metal by gold panning or metal detecting.  Since gold was found in these areas, likely the old-timers didn’t get it all— so you may get lucky and strike it rich (or at least catch gold fever)! Rules and regulations differ from state to state, so always be aware of the local laws. And if you want to metal detect on private land, you’ll need permission from the landowner.

Below is a very short list that offers a few ideas only. Beginners should search the internet or join a local gold prospecting organization for more information.

Crow Creek, Alaska. If you are heading to the 49th state and want to look for more than just incredible scenery and wildlife, you might want to try your hand at panning for gold in Crow Creek. The first claims of gold are said to have been made in 1897 near the mouth of the stream. The discovery of gold near the Chena River in Fairbanks set off the Fairbanks Gold Rush of the early 1900s and gold is still found in relatively impressive quantities in Alaska's ice-cold waterways. Recreational panning is also allowed at the narrower Pedro Creek to the north of Fairbanks. If a trip is not in your immediate plans, you can still have gold-rich paydirt sent directly to your home where you can pan in a tub in your kitchen sink!

American River, California. The California Gold Rush began in 1848 when gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill on the banks of the American River in Coloma. The surrounding area is still rich in gold deposits, and recreational panning is permitted these days at the south fork of the river in Coloma and at two forks in the Auburn State Recreational Area.  The Cosumnes River that flows through California's Eldorado National Forest is also known for its golden deposits, and several campgrounds are nearby. There are many places to hunt for gold in California. Just read up on its rich gold mining history for more ideas on where to go.

Colorado gold prospectingClear Creek, Colorado. A gold-hunter's paradise, this river in Colorado is hands-down the best place in the state for recreational prospecting. Panning and sluicing for gold is permitted on the river bed at Arapahoe Bar in west Denver, and digging is allowed on the north side of the river there. There's also a large stretch of river about 10 miles upstream from Arapahoe Bar at Clear Creek Canyon where gold panning and sluicing are permitted. You may even have better luck here since the location is up-river.

Snake River, Idaho. Gold has been found throughout most of the 800-mile length of the Snake River from the headwaters near Yellowstone National Park to Lewiston, Idaho. In 1860 the Idaho Gold Rush began. It started with a gold discovery in Pierce, particularly at the juncture where Orofino Creek meets Canal Creek. The most popular gold- producing district in Idaho is Boise Basin County, which was discovered only two years after the Pierce event took place. It has also been reported that gold was discovered in Pend d'Oreille River in 1852.

Rye Patch, Nevada. Northern Nevada is home to the state's best known placer field for nugget shooting with a metal detector— the Majuba or Rye Patch placer district. The area is located west of the Rye Patch Reservoir, about 45 miles north of Lovelock.  Despite intensive prospecting in this region beginning in the 1860's, this placer field was not discovered until 1938 by a local man who worked the area by drywashing for several years through the early 1940's, producing over 600 ounces of placer gold. Sporadic prospecting work has continued ever since.

Little Meadow Creek, North Carolina. Little Meadow Creek at Reed Gold Mine, is the site of the  first discovery of gold in the United States. In 1799, Conrad Reed was walking along Little Meadow Creek when he noticed a shiny, gold substance in the water. It turned out to be a 17 pound gold nugget!  Since then, deposits were mined in both the Piedmont and Mountain regions, most of the early production was in the central Piedmont, particularly in the Carolina slate belt and in Mecklenburg County.

Black Hills Forest, South Dakota. In 1876 the gold rush swept across the Black Hills of South Dakota after gold deposits were found in Deadwood Creek, and folks have been panning for gold ever since. Strawberry and Elk creeks all have placer gold, as well as Yellow, Squaw and Annie creeks. Generally, most of the National Forests are open to recreational mineral and rock collecting, gold panning and prospecting using a metal detector. But always check local regulations because some wilderness areas are closed to treasure hunting of any kind.

Keep in mind that even if there has been no major “rush,” major amounts of gold have been found in many other states, too, including Georgia, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico,  Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Good luck!

More articles on gold mining history found here.


Posted by: Denise AT 04:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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