Archive for the ‘Mineral prospecting’ Category

On November 9, 2016 I received a letter from the United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Saco Ranger District, White Mountain National Forest, file code 2800; 1910, date November 1, 2016.

 

It reads as follows:

Dear interested parties

The White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) is in the process of improving the management of the mineral resources across the Forest. This change is under consideration because of the significant increase in mineral collecting on the Forest in the last several years. While we welcome the interest in mineral collecting, the increase has brought some adverse impact to the majority of the existing collecting areas. We are also finding new collecting sites growing in frequency and size across the Forest. Given the disturbance at these sites, it is apparent that some collectors do not follow the Forest Service standards and guides for mineral collecting. At this time, we are concerned about the steady expansion of collecting, its impact to the resource, and the sustainability of the collecting program. To address these concerns, we are exploring different strategies for the management of our mineral resources with the goal of providing collecting opportunities that will be sustainable into the future.

 

At this time, we are seeking input from the minerals community and other interested members of the public to better understand the resource issues we are observing and to discuss how we could manage collecting more effectively. The information we collect will better inform our management decision during the planning process. The WMNF will hold three public meetings to engage with collectors and other interested parties as a focus group and create a dialogue about mineral collecting on the Forest. The dates and times are listed bellow. If these meetings dates cannot be attended comments can be sent to Elaine Swett eswett@fs.fed.us or in writing to the Saco Ranger District, 33 Kancamagus Hwy, Conway, NH 03818. There will be an additional public comment period once the formal planning process begins. Additional Questions concerning the meetings can be directed to Elaine Swett or Austin Hart at the Saco Ranger District 603-447-5448.

6:00PM Tuesday, November 29,2016

Location: Pemigewasset Ranger District

Weeks Room

71 White Mountain Drive

Campton, NH

6:00 PM Thursday, December 1, 2016

Location Androscoggin Ranger District

300 Glen Road

Gorham NH

2:00 PM Saturday, December 3, 2016

Location Salyards Center for the Arts

110 Main Street

Conway, NH

Sincerely,

James Innes

District Ranger.

This is public information, other than the letter I don’t know where you would find this information, I can’t find it on the White Mountain National Forest web site so that is why I am sharing it with you. This is the time where you have a voice in the future planning of what takes place in the White Mountain National Forest and the future of mineral collecting therein. So please take advantage of this time, If you can’t attend a meeting then send a letter via snail mail or send an email. This may also be a good time to bring up sluicing in the Forest since as of June, 2016 it is no longer permitted, Gold is a mineral.

There are currently 3 locations where mineral collecting is allowed and they are Deer Hill, Lord Hill, and Moat Mountain, click on each one for information.  Gold Panning is allowed in some areas, click for information.

 

13373-vintage-photo-of-a-man-dowsing-for-water-pv

That’s right, dowsing for gold. I know that many people have heard of dowsing for water. I can’t remember the first time that I had heard about dowsing for gold but I had often thought how does that work. I had worked as a plumber for a period in my life and I knew of plumbers or public works utility workers locating metal pipe buried under ground by means of dowsing. I had worked with a guy that would dowse for water and he located many wells, I had asked him if he had ever heard of dowsing for gold and the reply from him was no. I had seen videos of prospectors dowsing for gold and they claimed that they found gold using this method. I spoke with prospectors that I knew about this and  swear by it. My curiosity was peaked, I was skeptical but I didn’t necessarily doubt it after all it is working for them.

Last year I figured I had to try it, I simply took  two 7018 welding rods and bent them at 90 degrees so that they fit my hands, the width of my palm. I had them in my backpack and when I got down to the river I took them out and just started walking around holding them loosely pointing straight out in front of me and they started to move. I came to a spot where they crossed, I stopped then I backed up a little and the went straight out again, I walked forward, they crossed. I walked beyond the spot and they straightened again, I backed over the spot and they crossed. This is it, dig here! I dug, and panned the material and nothing. I went over the location again with the dowsing rods and they still crossed, well it is hitting on something I thought so I dug and panned a few more times, and I got a very little bit of gold, dust. Well, not very much, did it really work I wondered. Let me try another spot, I waded out into the river with my dowsing rods pointed straight out and not only did they cross but they spun all the way around slowly, I marked the spot with several rocks piled up and I continued this until I had a line about 8 feet long. Here it is I yelled to Hillbilly John, this is the location we are going to dredge. We set up the dredge and we worked that location all day, we worked it down to the clay which was only about 2 feet down. Time to do a clean up, we lifted up the rubber mat in the sluice box and behold we had several pickers. We cleaned out the box, took it back to the camp and we ran it through the spiral wheel there was a lot of fine gold and it was one of our best cleanouts we ever had. It could be a coincidence, I used the dowsing rods for the rest of the season and every time put me on the gold and it seemed that we kept getting more gold each time. I can’t tell how deep the gold is, if it is an inch or 5 feet.

How does it work? Some folks think that it is some mystical power. I have my own theory and it is thus: the earth is like an enormous generator emitting power, electricity from deep within the core, this power emanates through the crust as a magnetic field as it passes through different elements in the earth it causes the dowsing rods to move.

Dowsing is working for me so I will continue to use this method in locating gold. What are your thoughts, please share.

It has really become evident in the past several years that extreme environmentalism has become a major problem for gold prospecting/ mining, for the recreationalist and the professional alike. It seems to me that the environmentalists are always crying fire, fire, fire when there is no fire. Extreme environmentalist would like to shut down prospecting or at least reduce it to panning only. Extreme environmentalists are organized and they have money, lots of money and they are very good at lobbying. They are heard loud and clear even though their argument is based on opinion and conjecture. Often times they present their arguments out of context, for instance when presenting something against suction dredging they present their case using data from commercial dredging and get state biologist’s professional input based on that data when that biologist is not aware of a difference between the two dredges. The biologists are giving a text-book answer to the question asked out of context. When environmentalists lobby for legislation their concern is believable to the legislatures because they don’t know the difference. The legislature often times don’t know the first thing about prospecting. This is not just a local problem it is a national problem, just look around the country to see. States that have either proposed legislation to ban dredging and or other forms of prospecting or bans that are in effect: California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado just to name a few, this type of activity is not limited to the Western United States but Eastern States as well such as Vermont, Maine and Tennessee. Extreme environmentalist groups will use other local clubs against us, they convince local clubs that there is a cause, clubs such as a fly fishing club or a rafting club who would just assume to have the river to themselves. They make us out to be environmental terrorist, they try to portray us  like a bunch of uneducated backwoods idiots. Many of us are from the backwoods but we are not idiots. We are concerned about the environment because that is where we live.

Here is part of a conversation from a fly fishing group forum in Maine between several fly fishermen concerning LD 1671 many of which were at the public hearing:

GQ: Let me get this straight.  You want to eliminate dredging for gold to protect the stream and the fish?  So in turn you can go trudging through the stream, disrupting the streambed, so you can stick a metal hook in the mouths of the salmonids you are trying to protect?  Or maybe you just want the streams all to yourself?  I don’t prospect for gold, but I do flyfish.  Why should my activities be legal while others are not allowed access to play?

Very disturbing,
GQ

TGIF: GQ’s argument is real, and it is a hard one to object to. I think the key point is that mechanical destruction takes individual destruction to a new level. Key term, destruction, if the issue were just sharing, I think the focus of the rebuttal needs to be on the destruction of habitat, that seemed pretty clear to my untrained eye.
It doesn’t take a biologist to know that pools are good for fishing, gravel is good for spawning.
I also found it curious that gas engines are allowed, but I suppose that is no different then an outboard.

It’s a slippery slope we are on.  Most gold prospectors would argue that we are only concerned about the habitat because we want to have higher populations of fish to impale with our stainless steel, barbed hooks.  And we want more waters to tread around in with microbes of didymo attached to our gear…and we want to do it all by ourselves.

GQ: Picking and choosing who has a right to a body of water/activity and who doesn’t is a dangerous game.  The same could be said for motorboats.  How much polution do they emit?  How many invasives have fishermen introduced?  I don’t think the gold prospectors are running around with invasive fish in their trucks.

Unless you are willing to end all activities in a given body of water, don’t go after another man/woman’s activities.  It may come back to haunt you.

Would you support an end to all flyfishing in these waters in an effort to protect the mouths of the fish in the water?  I wouldn’t.

Just my thoughts,
GQ

TS: GQ I’d counter with the question as to why biologists & IF&W have chosen to regulate fishing these waters (closed seasons, etc), have regulated development & logging around them, have made it illegal to cross them with ATV’s, etc

we are talking about a bill that would extend critical habitat protection in select wild brook trout waters & atlantic salmon waters….it wouldn’t ban the activity, just ensure that the protection these waters are already afforded is consistent across all uses…..

your argument, honestly, is bordering on hyperbole

GQ: TS That’s great!  I’m all for protecting critical areas. But why take half measures?  Let’s close them to everyone. No fishing, no mining, no logging, etc. Anything short of that and the appearance becomes that we are protecting fish so fisherman can catch them.

GQ

MH: GQ I’m hoping that you’re playing Devil’s Advocate a bit.

I don’t really see how anyone can equated wading in a stream (which is closed to my wading in spawning season to protect eggs) to the total and complete destruction of the streambed as it exists.

When Dredgers start the dredge in a spot they use a new phrase to me they say – Go for Bedrock. Then they make 10-square foot holes to whatever depth the hose and scuba give them time to do.  (10-square feet if they are legal – watch the video and tell me the first hole is only 10-square feet)

We aren’t asking to ban gold panning, pail and shovel work with a 5-gallon pail.  We are asking to prevent wholesale destruction.  I ask you to watch the video – it’s like a magic show – now you see rocks breaking water shore to shore – poof- now you see a hole.

And – just so you know – the holes you will see if you watch the video – those holes are supposed to be filled in.  Yes, in the permit they sign is a requirement to bring the streambed back to the surrounding level.

Do you think any of those holes were re-filled.  Do you think they put the tons (many tons) of rock back. Not a chance.

JR: Maine law certainly doesn’t say “anything goes” when it comes to our streams.  Not for fishing, and not for activities that disturb the stream bottom.
I suppose the key question is whether we should treat this activity like fishing, or like other activities that disturb the stream bottom.  Every other activity that disturbs a stream bottom needs a permit under the Natural Resource Protection Act. Motorized recreational gold dredging is unique in being exempted from that act.

TS: GQ you’re equating someone picking an occasional flower from a meadow to someone coming in and bulldozing it under

as i said, hyperbole……

GQ: TS You wouldn’t know hyperbole if it fell out of the sky, landed on your face, and wiggled.

MH,

I watched the video. I understand your position. But I just disagree. We are becoming too adept at protecting our own turf at the expense of another. We are going to regulate ourselves right out of the very pursuits we enjoy the most. I say work with the minors without destroying them.

GQ

I added this part of the conversation to show you what we are up against. I would like to point out in MH’s comment about 10′ square holes he references the law 10 square feet if they are legal. This is what the law states: d. Sluice Size. The area of a sluice must not exceed 10 square feet. Taken from Chapter 10, Sub Chapter III 10.27G of Maine’s land use standards. This was part of this mans testimony to the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. This is one of the items that I mean out of context. Not only is it out of context but completely wrong. He suggests that the hole was not filled in, if you go to that location today you can’t tell that anyone was there dredging, I know because it was my video that he clipped for the propaganda video that he made. He references a permit, there is no permit required in that area. My friends dad had said many times that if you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones. There are environmental groups out there that would like to shut down fishing, I would stand with the fishermen to help defend their sport.
 

We as prospectors need to ban together and get organized. If we are going to keep our tradition alive, we need to stand up for our passion, for our activity. For some it is a form of recreation for others it is their bread and butter. What must we do?

  • Organization: As an individual prospector it is tough to fight legislation, as a group we tend to get better results, as a large group we can have a major impact. It comes down to politics, the most active, largest, loudest group is the one that gets heard. It is important to be a part of that large group, a large group like the Gold Prospectors Association of America who is one of the oldest and largest prospecting organizations in the country. The GPAA is a strong organization especially out in the Western part of the United States and it is up to us to make it a strong organization in the East as well. Their strength is in local chapters and local chapters are strong out West, we have few local chapters in the East. If  you are not a member of the GPAA think about joining, if you are a member of the GPAA consider joining a local chapter, if there is no local GPAA Chapter near you think about starting one. The GPAA does not have a magic delegation that if an issue arises they dispatch them to fight our battle it is we the prospectors who are going to fight that battle with national organization. There are many local organizations out there, get involved with them.
  • Communication: We need to communicate with each other. We can do that through forums, blogs, web pages, facebook, Twitter, e-mails and so on. A great platform for communication is GoldProspectorsSpace . We need to communicate local issues that arise to get others involved, we need to communicate with other prospecting organizations, it is possible that they have gone through similar situations and can be very helpful. Other clubs and organizations may be able to direct you to supporting documentation. Don’t think that you have to fight against legislation on your own, we need each other. Don’t be afraid to sound the alarm.
  • Educate: We need to educate the masses. We need to let the public know what prospecting is truly about, we also have to educate those that are governing our country. Like I mentioned earlier  many of the legislators don’t know the first thing about prospecting. We need to do this with factual documentation. There have been numerous studies that have been performed some of which were generated by government agencies and many reports based on the findings of these studies. Case in point: Extreme environmentalist sounded the alarm on global warming, Al Gore ran with it educating the masses that the house is on fire and burning down fast, spurning propaganda that the masses believed, as time went by we found out that it was just propaganda through scientific data and recently global warming has been reduced to climate change. Climate change is a natural occurence, it has been happening since the beginning of time. We do need to be good stewards of the earth.
  • Financial Support: There are organizations out there fighting for our rights that need our financial support such as Public Lands For The People who is engaged in fighting the court battle over the California moratorium on gold dredging. Why is this important? If prospectors lose this battle in California then they have a blue print to shut down suction dredging across America. You can join Public Lands For The People or you can make a donation, every dollar counts.
  • Be good stewards: We need to make sure we know the laws of the land we are prospecting in and make sure we follow those laws to a T. In fact we need to leave the land in better condition than when we started. Make sure you fill in your holes, do not dredge or dig in the bank. If you pack it in, then make sure you pack it out. If you find other peoples garbage take that with you as well. What ever lead and mercury you recover take it with you, save it up record the amount, take a picture of it at the end of the season, you will need this picture at a latter date for some show and tell.
  • Be prepared: Be prepared for a fight before it happens. Gather data or at least know where you can find it for the day when you submit a testimony at a public hearing, or when you are contacting your Congressperson, Senator or Governor to ask them to oppose legislation against prospecting. Always remember these people work for you.
  • Take action: Every prospector can take some kind of action even if it is as little as passing the message on to friends or prospecting groups and clubs. We may have to write letters or e-mails to politicians, make phone calls. Write an editorial to a local newspaper. Make your voice heard.

Attention prospectors Maine Legislation has proposed a ban on gold dredging. Legislative Document No. 1671, S.P. 646 An Act To Prohibit Motorized Recreational Gold Prospecting In Certain Atlantic Salmon and Brook Trout Spawning Habitats. Emergency.

Presented by: Senator Boyle of Cumberland, cosponsored by Representative McCabe of Skohegan and Senators: Mazurek of Knox, Patrick of Oxford, Saviello of Franklin. Representatives: Farnsworth of Portland, Gattine of Westbrook, Rochelo of Biddeford, Sanborn of Gorham, Theriault of Madawaska. Emergency means that this proposal will become effective immediately if passed.

This legislation has been introduced under the guise that gold dredging harms Atlantic salmon and brook trout spawning habitats. This is far from the truth, in reality we gold dredgers help fish habitat, we create beds for the fish to spawn in. The fish come into our pools to get out of the currents to feed. We also clean their habitat by removing trash and toxic metals  such as lead and mercury. Mercury is very harmful to fish and humans that consume them. Most of the lead is sinkers from fishermen and bullets and birdshot from hunters, believe me when I say that there is a lot of lead.

Lead from the Swift River from one afternoon.

Lead from the Swift River from one afternoon.

Close up view, notice the lead sinkers, some are even attached to fishing line, notice the bullets and bird shot

Close up view, notice the lead sinkers, some are even attached to fishing line, notice the bullets and bird shot

This is my lead count for the whole day Swift River.

This is my lead count for the whole day Swift River.

We also remove broken glass from the rivers and streams of Maine, we also remove trash that has been left behind by others from the banks of the rivers, this includes items such as bottles, cans, monofilament (fishing  line) and those six-pack rings, which these last two items are very harmful to birds and ducks. Birds will pick up fishing lines and use it for nesting material which later trap their young when they hatch and they die, ducks and other small mammals get those six-pack rings caught over their heads eventually strangling them.

If you are a prospector and a resident of Maine or if you own a business in Maine that is supported by prospectors I would like to encourage you to contact your elected officials by phone, email or letter and ask them to vote against S.P.646. All concerned prospectors could send letters to the editors of newspapers in the areas that you prospect in and voice your concerns.

Personally I spend all of my vacation time in Maine doing what I love to do and that is prospecting and gold dredging. I have spent up to six weeks a year there doing so. While I am there doing what I love I am spending money on things such as lodging, supplies from local businesses, gas from local gas stations. We eat in local restaurants, I buy firewood from local sellers and so on. I usually spend a week to two weeks at a time in Maine spending $800 to $1500 a trip. I know I am not the only prospector doing so when I am there I see many others doing the same. If this ban on dredging goes into effect I will be forced to gold dredge in another state that is prospector friendly, the money that is currently being spent in Maine will now be spent in another state.

The clock is ticking, and time is running out fast, if you want to help preserve your right to dredge in Maine the time is right now. Please act even if all you do is share this post at least we together can get the word out in time.

If you have any information to add that supports this post please post it and if you have any more ideas on what to do to help please post them, Thank you.

Maine has an abundance of minerals, we have heard of some great tourmaline finds of gem quality valued at several thousand dollars. While we were prospecting for gold in September in Maine we were met with an abundance of rain and we were tired of being wet and cold so two days before our adventure was over we decided to try our hand at mineral prospecting. We got our gear out of the river and got it all back to the camp site, and went and asked a friend who lives locally where they would go to look for tourmaline. We had been directed to a quarry about 25 miles away. The nice thing was the quarry was warm and there were a lot of piles to dig through.

Appalachian Prospectors Prospecting for minerals

Appalachian Prospectors
Prospecting for minerals

We were on the lookout for tourmaline, quartz crystals, beryl, apatite or anything else that looked interesting.

Hillbilly John Looking for that gem.

Hillbilly John Looking for that gem.

Rock Hound Heaven

Prospector Mike's Hole

Prospector Melissa checking out some gems.

Prospector Melissa checking out some gems.

Melissa inspecting another gem stone.

Melissa inspecting another gem stone.

Hillbilly John preparing to do some screening.

Hillbilly John preparing to do some screening.

Ross was very helpful, thanks for all your insightful information.

Ross was very helpful, thanks for all your insightful information.

We met Ross while we were there and he helped us identify minerals that we were not familiar with.

Muscovite, Montmorillonite in Pegmatite Matrix

Muscovite, Montmorillonite in Pegmatite Matrix

Here is a fine specimen that Hillbilly John found that he gave to me so I could show it at the mineral club I belong to. This is one of the minerals that Ross had helped us to identify. We had never seen Montmorillonite before.

Quartz Crystals in Matrix

Crystals in the crevice

Found this one on top of the ground.

Found this one on top of the ground.

Smokey Quartz

We found some tourmaline that would make some great micro mounts. Found some interesting specimens for my collection, met some very nice people and had a great adventure, priceless.

Hillbilly John and I made our usual trek northward to the Western Mountains of Maine on the first week of September which has been customary for us for over the past several years. This year Hillbilly John’s daughter Melissa and her boyfriend Mike accompanied us. It was their first time out dredging for gold.  It was also their first time visiting Maine. The weather was nice, it was warm and humid and it looked like we were going to have some nice weather for the labor day weekend. We arrived in the later part of the afternoon, we set up camp, jumped on the quads and headed out to the spot we planned to dredge in to look it over and put together a solid plan for the following day. We had a location picked out that we have dredged before that we had gotten some nice gold out of. We had been driven out of the spot before by the weather. We get to the trail and there is this sign posted on a tree that reads no all terrain vehicles beyond this point. What a bummer now we have to make a new plan. I had another location in mind, something that was relatively simple to get to. This place was down river on the East Branch of the Swift River. The first spot we looked at was reasonable. The following day we got up had some breakfast, packed up the 2 and a half inch dredge/ high banker combo and hit the trail, it was time to test the location out. We got there set up the equipment and we were Prospecting.

Hillbilly John and his daughter Melissa tending the sluice and Mike on the nozzle.

Hillbilly John and his daughter Melissa tending the sluice and Mike on the nozzle.

The weather was with us, some clouds passed over but over all it was a sunny day, we dredged until late afternoon, it was time for a clean up. We shut the dredge down and started washing the concentrates into a container, I looked down at the ribbed matting and I saw gold, so far so good. We cleaned all the concentrates out of the sluice and then we panned it down, we found numerous flecks of gold in each pan. The spot looked really good. We went back to camp had some dinner and then started getting the gear ready for the following day, we started assembling the 4″ dredge by putting the pontoons on the frame. We loaded up the trailer and prepared for an early start in the morning. Before turning in for the night it started to sprinkle and then it stopped. We turned in and before I fell asleep it started sprinkling again and I could hear thunder, and then came lightning. I could see it’s flash through the ceiling of the tent, which I find to be very peaceful and calming. I drifted off to sleep later to be awakened by the sound of pouring rain and thunder right over head. It must have been raining for a while at this point because when I went out of the tent to use the bathroom I stepped into ankle deep water just outside the door. I went back in to sleep, but just lay there for a while thinking  so much for the weather being with us, after all this is the first week of September in Maine. The next thing you know I am opening my eyes and it is starting to get light and the good news is I don’t hear rain on the roof of the tent. I got up and got dressed and went outside, it was foggy but at least it wasn’t raining. Hillbilly John was up and Melissa and Mike were still in their tent. I got some coffee on and started to fry up some bacon. It wasn’t long after that that Melissa was up and out of her tent. The eggs were done and breakfast was now ready and Mike finally joined us. If you are going to be dredging you need a good solid breakfast, you need lots of energy to move rocks and boulders. We saddle up and headed out with Hillbilly John leading the way towing the trailer with his quad,  Melissa and Mike were in the middle in the Jeep and I was in the rear making sure we didn’t lose anything. We had about a 3 mile commute to the parking area where we would have to leave the trailer and the Jeep and we would have to make several trips to get all of our equipment in on a narrow trail. Once we got every thing in we had a rather small ledge that we had to lower everything down to the river. Hillbilly John and I finished assembling the 4″ dredge and then I assembled the 2 1/2″ dredge for Melissa and Mike to use. After getting the equipment set up we donned our wet suits and we were ready to go. We worked together as a team, I was on the 4″ nozzle while Mike was on the 2 1/2″. Melissa tended the sluice for Mike and Hillbilly John was tending for me and moving rocks and boulders. We were working around a good size boulder. I worked the left and the down river side while Mike worked the right side. I could tell by the material that this location had been dredged before, the question was how deep and how far was it to bedrock or the clay layer. After about 1 1/2 to 2 feet I started to hit hard pack which was a good sign to me. I was excited and working like a mad man trying to get the rocks out of the way. I was throwing the rocks to my left, my peripheral vision is impaired due to my mask and I didn’t see Hillbilly John walking into my line of fire, I threw this rock about the size of a base ball and hit him right square in the bread basket. It’s a good thing he had on his wet suit it gave him some protection. Mike and Melissa were doing great for their first time out; they made a good team. The weather wasn’t to bad, there were scattered showers throughout the day with some patches of sun and it was fairly warm. We prayed that the weather would be with us, if it just rained at night I would be happy.Dredge We worked at a frantic pace all day, it was getting late and it was time for a clean up. We were quite eager to see what we had in the box, we ran the dredge for a few minutes clean just to wash the material a little better, just to get rid of some of the junk. We then throttled down on the dredge, Hillbilly John got in position with the plastic bus pan to catch our concentrates, I raised the rubber mat at the top of the sluice box and removed the first set of riffles. To my surprise I saw the most gold I had ever seen come across the ribbed matting. Man you got to see this I said to every one else, look at this we got gold!!!! We got us a good spot. We picked all the gold off that we saw with tweezers and continued our clean up, grabbing up every bit of gold we could before it hit the end of the sluice. We finished the clean up and panned down the concentrates. We found gold in just about every pan, the gold was small but we had a lot. If we are getting this on the surface just imagine what we will get as we get deeper. We had spent about 14 hours on the river that day and then the clouds rolled in. It was nearly dark by the time we got back to the camp sight. We ate dinner and then we relaxed by the campfire, it started to rain. We took cover in our tents and went to sleep. I awoke several times throughout the night to the sound of pouring rain. Day light came and it was still raining. We were huddled under the canopy hoping for the rain to stop but it wasn’t letting up so  we decided to go into town and get breakfast, we would at least be dry for a little while and get a good hot breakfast. Before going into town we  went to Coos Canyon Rock and Gift, Hillbilly John wanted to get a spiral pan to help us in our clean out efforts, hand panning is very labor intensive. We got out of the car and we could hear the river raging through the canyon. We had gone in to see Rosey, she was out of new spiral pans but she had a used one out back. Hillbilly John said he was interested in seeing it, She went and got it brought it out, it was an older model but in very good shape the battery was dead so Hillbilly John said that we will come back later and if it works he would buy it. We went into town and went to a local diner, breakfast was great we were dry and warm and I didn’t have to cook. Afterwards we went to Wal – Mart I wanted to get a rain suit so I did, Hillbilly John got a battery charger, he figured he would need it for the spiral wheel. We got back to Byron, still raining, we could hear the river raging from our camp site Hillbilly John thought that we should go and check on our equipment I agreed an put on my new rain suit . We took the quads, the rain was pouring down I could barely see with the rain hitting me in the face but at least the rain suit was working that was $14.00 well spent. I was worried the whole way there wondering what we were going to find or not find. Fortunately the day before we had pulled the 4″ dredge up onto dry land and securely tied it off  because the weather was looking pretty ominous. The other dredge was not tied and the motor was in a plastic Rubbermaid bin on the bank of the river. We got there and I was very hesitant about looking. Hillbilly John was the first on the scene and I had to ask how did it look, looks like everything is there he replied so I then looked for myself. The river was up on the bank and it had washed the 4″ out into the river and thank GOD we tied it off or else we probably would never had found it. The river was just inches from the Rubbermaid bin. We hauled the 4″ back in to land and drug it farter up the bank and re-tied it. Everything else we moved farther up on the bank. We were lucky again, it seems to be the same old story here, we are usually short on time, every day that we have really counts, when we lose a day or two it really puts a damper on our plans. But this is all part of the adventure and we are gluttons for punishment we will be back for more! Later on that day we went back to Rosey’s and Hillbilly John purchased the spiral wheel. We went back to the campground and it was virtually empty the rain had driven everyone out, we were talking with the owner of the campground and he told us that a couple of prospectors had lost their dredges and they hadn’t been found.

The following day the sun came out, the river had receded enough and were back to dredging. Our hole had been loaded up again with rock and gravel, but it wasn’t to long before I was in the hard pack again. Even though the sun was out it had cooled off a lot. We could see a couple of prospectors down river heading our way, when they got close enough I could see that it was Harry and Waynette Bragdon, my wife’s cousin. I had been looking for them and they for us but on this day they were just out prospecting and found us by accident. They had their sluice box with them and set up near us. As I said it was a lot cooler so I took many breaks to get warm and we took turns on the nozzle, I would take a turn, then Hillbilly John and then Mike. We kept the material flowing through the dredge all day long.

Hillbilly John takes the nozzle

Hillbilly John takes the nozzle

Mike gets ready to take his turn on the nozzle.

Mike gets ready to take his turn on the nozzle.

Melissa is trying to stay dry for a change.

Melissa is trying to stay dry for a change.

Hillbilly John getting warm on the rocks.

Hillbilly John getting warm on the rocks.

It was a great day on the river, we got some nice gold, we ran the concentrates through the spiral wheel and it worked good but we were tired of being cold and wet. The following day we packed up the equipment and decided to try something different.

I live in an area of New York state where gold is not prevalent, I am not saying that there is no gold here, it’s just hard to find where gold has been found before. New York State has a law on the books known as the King’s Law of 1775 which states that any gold found in New York belongs to the state even if you own the land. I find this to be absurd for we don’t have a King. At any rate I believe that this law has kept anyone from recording any gold finds. In my area of New York I have heard of legends of gold finds. I have always figured that we should have glacial gold present seeing that our neighboring states of Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut have glacial placer gold present.  There has been a lot of lead mining in this area and I have read a good many of the geological reports of these mines in the area and all had a very small amount of  gold  present. There was not enough gold to be profitably minable, so I wonder if any of that gold may be in the tailing piles or was it melted down with the ore.

Hillbilly John and I have been on a quest to find gold in this area so that we may have a local spot to gold prospect in, we still enjoy traveling to distant locations but it would be nice if we had something close enough for when we have just a day or two to prospect. We decided one day to go to Ellenville NY and do a little prospecting on the Sandburg Creek. We went in by the base ball field and we were behind the high school foot ball field. We each did a couple of test holes, digging a bucket each screening the material down to 1/2 inch and then panning it out. Hillbilly John was the first to find a speck of gold. As I was screening I found some pottery shards, looked like from an old crock, we found lots of lead (galena). I finally found a piece of wire gold down at the bottom of my bucket. In the past I have test panned other streams in the area and came up empty, as little as this was we were elated to have found 2 little pieces of gold. I suspect that there is gold in the Shawangunk Mountains, not because that there is a lot of magnetite but because of the sulfides that are present.

We test old mine sites, gravel pits, river beds and any glacial till that we may come across. I have tested some in my own back yard and found very fine gold, like powder. I was once poking around some old limestone mines up in Kingston and what caught my eye was about a 4 foot layer of sand that was loaded with sea shells sandwiched in between 2 separate strata. I didn’t have any thing with me so that I could take a sample but it is something I will explore in the future. The search continues. If you suspect that there is gold in an area test pan it, what’s it going to hurt and who knows you just may find yourself a honey hole.

Map of New York highlighting Ulster County