Panning, digging, dredging, and mining are great ways to find gold in various quantities. Most people know how to find it, but very few know where to find gold.
The year was 1849 and all of a sudden, everyone was rushing to California to make their fortune with gold. Miners and panners alike found, and spent, those fortunes in towns that were created specifically to take advantage of the gold flowing from the hills and mountains. Today, even though there are no gold “rushes” going on, it is still possible to find your own gold in the same ways the 49’ers did when the California Gold Rush was new.
Many of the same techniques used to find gold in the past are just as valid today as they were then. There are essentially two ways to find gold: mine it or pan for it. Starting with geological surveys in your area will enable you to find locations where gold may be found. However, be aware that unless you own the land, you’ll probably need the permission of the land owner to search for gold on their property. Once you’ve found a likely area, its time to use the tools of the gold mining trade.
If you’re panning, working the bottom of the stream is fairly straightforward. Modern pans use ridges to help catch the gold dust which will sink to the bottom of your pan. For a good area and with the right equipment and patience, you can usually find anywhere from 1 to 3 grams per day and, with luck, you may find some gold nuggets which can up your take to an ounce or more per day.
If you’re doing mining, or “hard rock mining”, you’ll need tools to dig with as well as a source of water to sluice through your tailings to see if you can find gold. Since gold is heavier than other minerals and metals, it will sink to the bottom of your sluice, making it easier to find than trying to sort through raw rock. For those who find a good vein of gold, blasting may become necessary to easily access more gold. Depending on the quality of the lode, you may see several ounces per day doing hard rock mining in a good area.
Keep in mind when dealing with natural gold that it isn’t pure gold. The gold dust, hard rock gold and gold nuggets will be mixed with different metals and will need to be assayed to determine its true value. Trying to find your own gold is a truly fun hobby. And, if you happen to find a great area, you could be the next of the “new” 49’ers and find your own fortune!