“Gold is where you find it.” – Unknown
OK… that may be true, but that does little to give us clues as to where gold actually is hiding. In Part 1 we talked about water, and how water can concentrate gold into “pockets,” and how we can identify the probable location of some of those pockets by imagining where flood stage water would be fast, and where that water would slow down. These are not the only places gold can hide, though. Here are a few other tidbits of gold lore. Once again, I’m going to concentrate on gold that is in waterways and river beds.
First, (and this seems obvious to me) look for gold where gold has been found before. There’s no sense in looking for gold in a river or a stream if gold has never been found there. The old-timers were thorough in their searching, and I doubt if a place exists within the northern hemisphere that has gold in it that the old-timers didn’t at least find color. There are many, many books that cover (in detail) where to find gold in your state, or perhaps a nearby state.
Second, gold is heavy. It will be UNDER everything else (overburden). Don’t look for gold on top of the overburden. The water action would ensure the gold is driven to a layer it cannot penetrate… bedrock. Now, it is possible that the riverbed has several layers of clay. This clay can sometimes act like bedrock, and the gold may sit on top of this clay layer until sufficient flooding and fast water breaks it up. But, if you’re not dealing with clay layers, look for the gold ON BEDROCK… not on top… not in the middle. ON BEDROCK!
Third, gold will “drop” into cracks and crevices in the bedrock, even in areas where the water pressure would be fast. If you have a section of river bed exposed that is “craggy,” crack them open and clean out the contents… ALL the contents. If gold is in that crack, it will be at the bottom of that crack.
Fourth, check under boulders. Do this especially in the “line of boulders” between inside curves. But, any boulder in the river could be hiding a nugget or two. Make sure when dealing with boulders that you do it the smart way. Always survey the boulder, rocks that it is resting on, the direction (slope) it will slide toward, and gravity. DO NOT compromise yourself by sticking your arm under a boulder to get some of the ‘good stuff.” Don’t compromise yourself by working on the “downhill side.” If possible, use a “rock net” and a winch or ‘come-a-long’ to move it. Whatever you do… BE SMART and BE SAFE!
Do you have a metal detector? If so, you can do a much faster search of your area by using it. This is not a job for a kid’s toy detector. If possible, use a detector specifically made for gold. They are very sensitive, have good ground balancing, and very little discrimination, so be ready for a lot of “junk” to go with the gold. Using a detector over a piece of river bed that has a lot of cracks and crevices can show whether it’s worth working or not. It’s also a lot safer to use a detector and eliminate some areas in and around big boulders rather than trying to move those boulders just to find out there’s nothing there.
Make sure you have a couple of gold pans with you. When you clean out cracks or shovel out under a boulder, you want to keep and test what you’ve spent time gathering. We’ll talk about panning in future articles, but here’s one piece of advice: Always pan into a pan (or something that will keep you from losing small gold that will accidentally pour out of the pan). Never pan directly into the river.
Just remember… gold is good at hiding. But, if you understand how gold moves, and where it can hide, you will almost guarantee yourself some “color” (almost), and maybe even a small nugget or two. Be persistent. Gold prospecting is not for the easily discouraged. Increase your knowledge. Hone your skills. You’ll get gold!