I have now been prospecting and mining for gold both as a spare time activity and being an occupation for almost 30 years and in my opinion it’s a crank! From the deep green forests to the rolling sagebrush hills, few people see as much 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 a long time to extract precious metals from the ground. As fun as that’s though, finding your own personal gold, either as a nugget or in solid hard rock is just a special experience that’s hard to equal.
School kids in California understand 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 throughout the western US. Well known may be the story of O’Reiley and McLaughlin who accidentally discovered the Comstock Lode silver bonanza while working a tiny 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 truly a good prospector, he collected an example, but he thought so little of his find so it sat on his porch for months before it had been tested. That sample became the very first of many rich discoveries at Tonopah. I really could write an entire book telling the stories of those individual prospectors who, whether intentionally or unintentionally, found rich deposits of gold and other valuable ores. These finds have had no small impact on the development of our country – historically millions upon millions of ounces of gold have now been recovered from deposits found by individual prospectors.
The gold prospecting world is basically divided into two halves. They’re placer gold and hard rock gold. Hard rock is gold, which remains in the original solid rock by which it formed. Northern Nevada is very full of 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 usually done on a big scale. The main problem for individuals enthusiastic about hard rock gold deposits is high capital costs for the apparatus to crush and process hard rock ore to be able to extract the gold from its solid rock enclosure. Because of this, many prospectors who search for hard rock gold seek to sell their finds to large companies that possess the resources to develop 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 the gold is named a placer deposit. There are many different types of placers depending on how far the gold traveled, its origin, etc. The four most typical kinds of placer deposits are: 1) Residual – where the original vein has weathered, however the placer gold remains pretty much “set up” and still within a few feet of the original source; 2) Eluvial – where in actuality the gold has traveled a quick distance down from the source, but hasn’t caused it to be into streams and other drainages – these are often called hillside placers; 3) Alluvial – Where the gold has caused it to be into area streams and rivers mts gold. These placers are sorted by running water and usually the gold lies mostly on or nearby the bedrock; 4) Beach placers occur where small gold particles allow it to be all the way 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 simple 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 many still start out trying to find 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 whenever you develop your own personal gold, and the excitement is real. There’s undoubtedly within my mind that gold fever is just a condition which in fact exists. In my own experience, staring too closely at gold nuggets or thinking a lot of concerning the quest to locate them often causes it. Luckily, it’s an enjoyable condition with few, if any, harmful side effects. Prospecting for gold is a spare time activity that’s simple to fall into.
It doesn’t necessarily cost a mint to find yourself in 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 one other hand, there are numerous great gold saving products open to the current prospector. Some allow the current 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 now been made in small scale prospecting equipment. There certainly is no problem finding ways to pay as much money on good equipment as you’d like – plenty of great stuff is available. Most individuals begin small and purchase heightened equipment while they get more mixed up in hobby.
So whether its looking for the following million ounce ore deposit or just finding a tiny gold nugget you are able to call your own personal, be assured, it’s still possible. For many who enjoy hunting, hiking, fishing, off road exploring or the other many outdoor hobbies so many folks participate in, prospecting may be something you’d be interested in. For more or less any outdoor enthusiast, it’s worthwhile to learn a little about gold deposits – because the following big find may be yours!