Archive for October, 2011

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It was early spring and I had the itch to do some prospecting. I had been surfing the web all winter and I came across this mine, the Shawangunk lead mine also known as the Mamakating lead mine, this place is not far from home near Wurtsboro NY. I had asked my wife Doris if she would be interested in going to check it out with me. I told her that it would be a somewhat strenuous hike up a mountain and that I was not quite sure the exact location and that we had to find it, she said yes. We put our son on the school bus, packed a lunch and we were off. We parked at the VFW which is an old rail road depot and we hiked down the old rail bed this is all state land, the tracks are long since gone. We hiked down this for almost a mile until we came to a road to the right that goes up the mountain. It was the second road which we should have taken the first road we came to. We followed this road and it split, I chose the wrong way so we back tracked to the split and took the other road. It was a beautiful day, the sun shone brightly it was a great day for a hike and we were glad to be out of the house. It took us about two hours to reach the mine adit. When we arrived we sat down on a large rock with a spectacular view of the valley below overlooking the Wurtsboro air port. After we finished our lunch we explored the site, the adit had been filled in so that people can not enter the shaft. On the side of safety it is a good idea to stay out of old mines for they tend to be unstable. This particular shaft has probably not been worked for over 100 years. Stay out, stay alive, keep that in mind while visiting old mines. There was a huge tailing pile, so I pulled out my rock hammer and went to work while Doris gave the metal detector a try. This is what you can find at this site: Galena; Sphalerite ;Quartz; Pyrite; Chalcopyrite; Muscovite. We easily found all of these specimens. I had read in a geological report that this mine also contained small amounts of silver and minute amounts of gold. I have some specimens that may contain gold, I don’t know yet I have to crush the rock and then pan it, I am saving that for a winter project to help stave off the gold fever.

For more information on this mine go to


These are the bare essentials for gold prospecting, this is all you need to get started. A gold pan, shovel, tweezers and a vile to put your gold in.

There are numerous types of gold pans, notice this one has  two sets of rifles. The rifles are there to catch the gold, the larger ones are for working your material down and the smaller ones are for finishing. This pan is black, this is my personal preference because it is easier for me to see and retrieve the gold from. Gold pans come in different colors and various sizes made of plastic, it is good to choose one that has a little flexibility not one that is brittle that way if you should step on it don’t break.

Here are two different colors and three different sizes. A 14, 12, 10 inch pan. The 10 inch is for finishing also great for children to use. The 12 inch is lighter than the 14 inch when panning material. I have a harder time seeing the gold in the blue pan, my wife on the other hand has no problem.

Here is a green pan, the rifles in this one are a little larger. The magnetite or black sands show up very well in this pan. This is my second choice.

Here is a metal pan, notice that there are no rifles in this pan. There is more of a chance of losing gold with this one. This pan was my grandmothers pan and I usually bring it on every gold prospecting trip and I do use it and I do find gold with it. It also works good as a wash basin, I can heat water up in it on the camp stove and wash my face. The type of gold pan you use is really a matter of preference. I would suggest starting with either the 14 inch black pan with the two sets of rifles or the 14 inch green one.

You want to have a good set of tweezers to retrieve your gold with. I prefer the ones that are curved at the business end and come down to a nice point. You will also need a vile or small bottle to put your gold in, you don’t want to try to put it in you pocket, you will lose it for sure, unless it’s a nice big nugget.

Here is an alternative to the tweezers and vile, this is a snuffer bottle you use it to suck the gold from the bottom of your pan. This works great for the small stuff and the flour gold, gold dust. I use this as well as tweezers, if I can’t get the gold with the tweezers I use this. The gold dust adds up so don’t throw it away.

Here is Hillbilly John using his tweezers to put the gold he retrieved from his pan into his vile.

Here are some tools you may want to add but not necessary to get started with. These tools I use for crevising. crevising is when you dig in the cracks of the ledge rock I have various sizes for different applications. the small ones are nothing more than scribing tools I bought a Lowes, an awl the long one I made and they all work great. You may even want a magnifying glass.