Archive for October, 2013

You have located a prospect. So now what. This is what I look for. I look for what I call the gold line, and that is the path that gold will most often travel. There are exceptions to this rule, but gold will more often than not follow a line from the inside bend in the river to the next inside bend in the river. I look at the inside bends and in my mind  I draw an imaginary line.

Gold Line

The gold may be found several feet to the right or to the left of this imaginary line. I also try to visualize the river at flood stage. I look for the high water mark. I then look for obstacles in the river such as boulders, tree stumps, the bend itself and try to imagine how the water was flowing over these or around these obstacles at flood stage.  When the river is at flood stage the gold line may shift from side to side.

Gold deposits

The red arrows represent where the river can get at flood stage. Flood stage is when the gold will travel the most. Gold can and will deposit in the areas I marked with the gold arrows. Notice the arrow pointing in front of the large rock, as the river flows over this gold will usually deposit on the down river side. This is a good spot to test. Next you will notice two arrows labeled obstacles, in this instance the obstacles are rocks with water currently flowing over them, you may find larger gold in areas such as this. The water is moving a bit faster causing the lighter gold to move farther down stream to a calmer location. The larger gold has enough weight to sit down in a white cap and stay there. The arrows on the bend show the upper and lower sides of the bend. I will check both and every thing in between, gravel bars tend to build up here and these can yield some nice gold.  Gold will drop out any where the river slows or where it passes over an obstacle and a vortex (low pressure zone) is created.

lowpressure zone

This is an example of a low pressure zone, while the river reaches flood stage and the water passes over these boulders a vortex is created and gold will drop out. Also as the river recedes and as the river passes around the boulders gold will settle in this area that is calm. This location produced some nice gold for us: here is what we found:


Another good location to look for in a river is where the river widens and the water slows down. As the water slows down the gold will drop out and will sit down. Following is a location that is like this:


This location is right on the end of a gorge where the river is channeled through. As you can see boulders, rocks and gravel have been deposited here, there is a step down in the bedrock which makes for a great gold catch. This is what this location yielded:


Once you find a location that has given you positive test results then that is the spot to work. The goal will be to get down to bedrock or the clay layer which will act as a false bedrock. You may find gold all the way down to the bedrock and as you get deeper you will find other heavies such as lead sinkers and so forth. This is a good sign, if lead is in your hole then it is a good chance that there will be gold to. The deeper you get the gold can be bigger. This is not an exhaustive study on how to read a river, but it is enough to get you out there and get you started on your own gold prospecting adventure. Now get out there and find some gold!!!!


I have said it time and again the first step in finding gold is to find a location to prospect. A sure fire way to find gold is to look where gold has been found before. I find the internet to be a very useful tool in gold prospecting. is what I use very often, it’s very easy to use. From the home page you will find a box that says search mindat. In the box for mineral name type in Gold and then in the locality name type in the location that you have in mind and that could be a State, County, Town or Mine name. If one doesn’t work try another and hit search. I usually start with a state and hit start. Then it will bring me to a page with a list of mines, then I will choose one of those mines. When you click on the mine it will show you the specific minerals that were found present in that mine. I then locate the mine on a map and make a note of it.

English: Klondike Gold Rush miners in Alaska a...

English: Klondike Gold Rush miners in Alaska around 1900. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Next I will search for a geological report of that mine with the USGS. I would give you a link to this site but it is currently down at the time of this writing due to the Federal Government shut down. I find the report and find out how much gold was assayed. Even though I find that the mine didn’t contain enough gold to be profitable, there may be enough gold for the hobbyist.

The next thing I will do is to go to the map, I will then locate it on a topographical map. I often use the USGS store and go to the map locator. I look for rivers and streams that are near the mine. Near the mine I mean up to a couple of miles. If the mine is on a mountain I will look for rivers running off of that mountain. Once I locate a river or stream I will then look for points of accessibility (public access like a bridge easement.) Be careful some states do not allow prospecting activities on state lands, state game lands and so on. Look for state rules and regulations for the location you have in mind because each state is different. If it is on private property get permission first. When I look at the river on the map I am looking for the vertical drop of the river, I am looking for bends in the river and so on.

The next thing I will do is physically go to the location, I will look for that access point. If I have to knock on some doors to get permission then that is what I will do. Once I make contact with the river and then start testing, depending on the results I may stay right there or I may move up or down stream.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I am in an area the curious may come to see what I am doing, I let them know that I am prospecting for gold and sometimes that will open a conversation to a good lead. I have had that happen on many occasions. I like to hear about legends of gold finds, I make a note of it and when I get home I will track that lead down.

There are other methods of locating a prospect, this is just one I use often and it works well for me so I will continue. If you have a different method please feel free to share it. Now get out there and find some gold and good luck.