Archive for September, 2011

Thats me Prospector Jack

Demonstrating the proper place to dig and that is in the stream bed.

On our last trip to Byron Maine, it had been brought to our attention that a very selfish individual, one who knows the regulations of the state of Maine, chose to disregard the regulations and dig in the bank while prospecting for gold. It was said that this individual had dug approximately 20 feet into the bank in a nearby stream, he was not on the swift river. Along comes hurricane Irene dumps all her water on the region and swells all the rivers and streams in the area. In this particular stream where this individual had dug in the bank, all this flood water had undermined trees and fell into the stream and causing it to dam thus creating a huge mess. The land owner was not pleased at all. The land in mention is owned by one of the large paper companies who graciously allows recreational prospectors to prospect for gold. Needless to say the land owner was so angry they closed down the property for public use. May I also add that the state of Maine was none to pleased either. This kind of activity could cause the state to make more stringent laws concerning gold prospecting or shut it down entirely thanks to the actions of one selfish, carless individual.

GENERAL REGULATIONS ( Taken from the Department Of conservation State Of Maine Geological Survey Web site)

With the exception of areas administered by the Maine Land use Regulation Commission, gold panning activities in Maine do not require a permit as long as the following restrictions are adhered to:

    1. The activity is confined to sandy/gravely/cobbly unvegetated stream beds, with no disturbance of stream banks.
    2. The activity is limited to the use of gold pans, sluices of less than 10 square feet, or suction dredges with a hose diameter of 4 inches or less.
    3. Permission from the land owner must be obtained. Why? First, it’s a matter of common courtesy to the land owner. But also,trespassing on posted land in Maine can be a matter of civil law. The water in a stream is under the jurisdiction of the state; but the stream bottom and streambank- as well as the access across land to the stream is most likely private property (exceptions include public lots, state parks, etc.). If you cause any damage to that property, even if it is not posted, you may be subject to civil action brought by the land owner. You can avoid these problems by talking to the landowner ahead of time.
You can find this at: www.maine.gov.  type in ” gold in maine” in the search maine.gov.
If we all just follow these simple rules we can ensure that we have a place to prospect tomorrow. These regulations change from state  to state so always check with the state conservation department you wish to prospect in before you engage in such activity.
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Hillbilly John and I had planned for a couple of weeks another dredging trip to Maine again, probably the last one of the season, then Hurricane Irene hit. After seeing the news and seeing the devastation that Irene had brought to the Northeastern part of the United States we thought we may have to cancel our plans. We weren’t even sure if we could make it to Byron Maine but we left anyway, a day later than we had planned. We made good time it only took us 7 hours to get there and that was with towing a trailer with 2 quads. We arrived and went straight to the East Branch of the Swift River, the river level had gone down to a good level to work with a dredge. We set up camp right along the river, only to get kicked out of that spot the following day by a game officer, it was not an approved camp site, fortunately we didn’t get a fine and we were able to get an available site at Coos Canyon campground and cabins wich was about 5 miles away from our work site. Anyway when we arrived we had gone down to the river and located the site we wanted to work and then found a way in to it. We had gone back to our site and got our equipment, the dredge was dismantled so that we could pack it in to the work site on quads, it took us several trips to get all our equipment and tools in to the work site. We put the dredge together which is a Keene 4 inch, 3 stage. We made preparations so that we could start dredging the following morning, everything was good in the universe. We went back to our camp site had dinner then sat around the campfire and made our plan of attack for the following day.

The next morning we got up and had breakfast and raced down to the river to get started. We put the dredge in the water and went to work and found that the flood waters had washed away much of the overburden we had experienced on a previous trip we had made back in May. We had dredged all day and moved a lot of rock, we did our clean up on our dredge and brought our concentrates back to the camp site, and that is when we discovered the ticket on the windshield of the truck. We figured we better move to the campground. It was late in the day and almost time for the campground office to close so I jumped on the quad and headed down to the campground.Hillbilly John stayed behind and started breaking our camp site down. I had made the office just in time and they only had 2 sites left being labor day weekend, we were very fortunate. I went back up to the spot we had by the river and helped Hillbilly John pack up the rest of our gear. We got to the campground and we still had a little bit of daylight left, we made some quick work of setting up camp again. I started cooking dinner and Hillbilly John started running the concentrates through the Desert Fox. Dinner is now served Hillbilly John took a break from running the material and we both at, I was famished as I usually am after  a hard day of prospecting. After dinner Hillbilly John was back to his task of cleaning up our find, and I washed the dishes. Hillbilly John had finished running the concentrates and he said hey Jack you got to see this we got a small nugget I was like WHAT? Sure enough he had dumped the cup upside down in a gold pan and sure enough we had a small nugget and a lot of small flakes as well. That turned out to be a good hole.

The following day we worked the hole and moved a lot of boulders it was a productive day. We were going to continue when the sky turned dark and then the heavens opened up, poured,hail, thunder and lightning from every direction the sky looked as if a tornado was about to touch down the way the clouds were churning. We had taken cover on the bank and all we could do was watch the river rise and it rose quick. after about 40 minutes the rain subsided and we pulled the dredge out of the water and secured it on the bank. We cleaned the concentrates from the dredge and went back to camp, it was a wet ride back for the rain was now slow and steady, by the time we got back to the campsite it had stopped for a little while. We cleaned up the concentrates and we had some nice gold again. We had dinner, had a camp fire and called it a day.

The spot we had to move to.

The next day we discovered that the river had risen and the hole we had been working was now to swift to dredge so we had moved the dredge to a spot about 70 feet above where we were working still the same line we had intended to work. We had to push the dredge through some rapids to a pretty calm eddy. We tied the dredge off to a boulder and everything was good. We were ready to start again upon starting the dredge we discovered the air compressor was full of water, I couldn’t get any air to breath. We drained off the water and we were back in business. It was raining again and the air compressor continued to take on water so every so often we had to stop to drain the air out of it. To remedy this we zip tied an umbrella to the snorkel on the air compressor to keep the water out. Never the less with all the issues with the rain, and rain it did for the rest of the time we were there we had gotten gold every day that we were there and that was a good thing thanks to hurricane Irene for cleaning up the river.

See you next time.