I have already been prospecting and mining for gold both as a spare time activity and being an occupation for nearly 30 years and for me it’s a blast! From the deep green forests to the rolling sagebrush hills, few people see the maximum amount of of America’s available spaces as I do. I kick around kooky little old towns in the center of nowhere. I visit historic sites where in fact the pioneers of the west toiled for a long time to extract precious metals from the ground. As fun as that is though, finding your own gold, either as a nugget or in solid hard rock is a special experience that’s hard to equal.
School kids in California learn how James Marshall accidentally discovered gold nuggets while constructing a water powered sawmill in the Sierra foothills. The excitement resulting from Marshall’s discovery was a fire that ignited gold and silver rushes all across the western US. Well known 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 turned out to be rich silver ore. A century ago, Jim Butler, while traveling from his ranch in central Nevada, noticed some quartz vein material. Being a good prospector, he collected a sample, but he thought so little of his find so it sat on his porch for months before it was tested. That sample became the initial of several rich discoveries at Tonopah. I possibly could write a complete 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 experienced no small impact on the development of our country – historically millions upon countless ounces of gold have already been recovered from deposits found by individual prospectors.
The gold prospecting world is actually split 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 normally done on a big scale. The key problem for individuals enthusiastic 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. Because of this, many prospectors who look 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 called placer gold. Once it is freed from the vein, any accumulation of that gold is called a placer deposit. There are numerous different varieties of placers depending on what far the gold traveled, its origin, etc. The four most typical forms of placer deposits are: 1) Residual – where the original vein has weathered, however the placer gold remains just about “set up” and still in just a few feet of the original source; 2) Eluvial – where in fact the gold has traveled a brief distance down from the foundation, but hasn’t managed to get into streams and other drainages – they’re 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 nearby 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.
Due to the comparative simple recovering gold from placer deposits, most individual prospectors start off seeking placer gold nuggets and flakes. Some later progress to an interest in hard rock deposits, but most still start off 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 come up with your own gold, and the excitement is real. There’s undoubtedly in my mind that gold fever is a condition that actually exists. In my own experience, staring too closely at gold nuggets or thinking an excessive amount of about the quest to see them often causes it. Luckily, it’s a pleasurable 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 find yourself in prospecting. It can be as simple as investing in a gold pan for $10 and grabbing a bucket and the garden spade from the garage. On one other hand, there are lots of great gold saving products available 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 already been produced in small scale prospecting equipment. There certainly is no issue finding ways to invest the maximum amount of money on good equipment as you would like – plenty of great stuff is available. Most individuals begin small and purchase heightened equipment because they get more involved in the hobby.
So whether its searching for the next million ounce ore deposit or perhaps finding a small gold nugget you can call your own, be assured, it is still possible. For people who enjoy hunting, hiking, fishing, off road exploring or the other many outdoor hobbies so many folks participate in, prospecting may be something you would be interested in. For pretty much any outdoor enthusiast, it’s worthwhile to understand a little about gold deposits – because the next big find may be yours!