I have been prospecting and mining for gold both as a spare time activity and being an occupation for pretty much 30 years and i think it’s a crank! From the deep green forests to the rolling sagebrush hills, few people see the maximum amount of of America’s spacious spaces as I do. I kick around kooky little old towns in the middle of nowhere. I visit historic sites where in actuality the pioneers of the west toiled for decades to extract precious metals from the ground. As fun as that’s though, finding your personal gold, either as a nugget or in solid hard rock is really a special experience that’s hard to equal.
School kids in California find out how James Marshall accidentally discovered gold nuggets while constructing a water powered sawmill in the Sierra foothills. The excitement caused by Marshall’s discovery was a fire that ignited gold and silver rushes all across the western US. Popular is the story of O’Reiley and McLaughlin who accidentally discovered the Comstock Lode silver bonanza while working a small deposit of placer gold, tossing away a blue-black waste that later proved to be rich silver ore. A century ago, Jim Butler, while traveling from his ranch in central Nevada, noticed some quartz vein material. Being fully a good prospector, he collected an example, but he thought so little of his find that it sat on his porch for months before it absolutely was tested. That sample became the first of numerous rich discoveries at Tonopah. I really could write a whole book telling the stories of those individual prospectors who, whether intentionally or by accident, found rich deposits of gold and other valuable ores. These finds have had no small affect the development of our country – historically millions upon millions of ounces of gold have been recovered from deposits found by individual prospectors.
The gold prospecting world is actually divided in to two halves. They’re placer gold and hard rock gold. Hard rock is gold, which remains in the initial solid rock where it formed. Northern Nevada is extremely rich in gold, mostly as these primary hard rock type deposits. The hard rock, open pit mines of Nevada have produced nearly 100 million ounces since their discovery in 1960. Although several small operations still exist, hard rock mining is normally done on a large scale. The key problem for individuals thinking about hard rock gold deposits is high capital costs for the equipment to crush and process hard rock ore to be able to extract the gold from its solid rock enclosure. As a result of this, many prospectors who try to find hard rock gold seek to market their finds to large firms that possess the resources to produce them.
Any gold that’s weathered out of its original rock matrix, be it a quartz vein or another source is named placer gold. Once it’s freed from the vein, any accumulation of this gold is named a placer deposit. There are numerous different varieties of placers depending on what far the gold traveled, its origin, etc. The four most common forms of placer deposits are: 1) Residual – where the initial vein has weathered, nevertheless the placer gold remains just about “in position” and still inside a few feet of the initial source; 2) Eluvial – where in actuality the gold has traveled a quick distance down from the source, but hasn’t managed to get into streams and other drainages – these are often called hillside placers; 3) Alluvial – Where in fact the gold has managed to get into area streams and rivers mts gold. These placers are sorted by running water and usually the gold lies mostly on or close to the bedrock; 4) Beach placers occur where small gold particles ensure it is completely down river to the ocean. Wave action can concentrate the heavier fraction of the sand, producing black sand layers containing fine gold.
Because of the comparative ease of recovering gold from placer deposits, most individual prospectors start out seeking placer gold nuggets and flakes. Some later progress to a pastime in hard rock deposits, but most still start out searching for flakes and nuggets of free placer gold. Once you see your first gold, you won’t have much trouble seeing what kept the old pioneer prospectors going under such rugged conditions. It’s always great once you develop your personal gold, and the excitement is real. There is without doubt in my own mind that gold fever is really a condition that really exists. Within my experience, staring too closely at gold nuggets or thinking an excessive amount of in regards to the quest to see them often causes it. Luckily, it’s a satisfying condition with few, if any, harmful side effects. Prospecting for gold is a spare time activity that’s an easy task to fall into.
It doesn’t necessarily cost a mint to get involved with prospecting. It can be as simple as buying a gold pan for $10 and grabbing a bucket and the garden spade from the garage. On another hand, there are many great gold saving products available to the modern prospector. Some allow the modern prospector to accomplish things no old timer could ever dream of. From metal detectors, to portable suction dredges, to dry placer machines and other gold recovery devices of types, many significant improvements have been made in small scale prospecting equipment. There certainly is not a problem finding ways to pay the maximum amount of money on good equipment as you would like – a lot of great stuff is available. Most individuals start off small and purchase heightened equipment as they have more involved in the hobby.
So whether its searching for the next million ounce ore deposit or just finding a small gold nugget you can call your personal, rest assured, it’s still possible. For people who enjoy hunting, hiking, fishing, off road exploring or some of the other many outdoor hobbies so many folks participate in, prospecting may be something you would be interested in. For nearly any outdoor enthusiast, it’s worthwhile to understand a little about gold deposits – because the next big find may be yours!