Old school hunting

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Hey all,

I'm new here (and on other forums under the same screename), and am looking for information about the old days of gold hunting, before metal detectors.

How did they find gold back then? Did they just follow others who had found out? How did the "initial" discoveries happen? What did they do when they would stumble across a nugget somewhere? Did they just search for quartz outcroppings?

I don't have a metal detector, and really want to get into hunting for gold the way the old prospectors did it, in the 1800's and earlier :)

I have been directed to some great books, so I'll be reading those, but wanted to get some first hand info if I could.

Thanks in advance for your time.

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Hello Randy,

The old-timers mainly used a gold pan for sampling. They probably sampled every wet and dry creek/stream around. Sample here ... sample there ... when they found a decent amount of color they might have stuck around a bit longer always looking for a good pan of color. I'm sure once they found somewhere worth working they would use a rocker or sluice if water was available, or a drywasher if the material was dry enough. There are a lot of other old methods that were used, some consisted of just screening if the gold was coarse enough to see (nugget type gold).

I'm sure others will post some information. I will post more later.

Take care,

Rob Allison

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Hot Dog Bob your older than the dirt I've been kicking around for 44 years off and on doing the same thing. I started out in 62 on the 49ers trail with a pan and a rocker box that I made. :D You and I will be doing this in heaven together digging up the streets.You and Doc don't get to hot and take care.


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Hey Randy:

I built a rocker once out of plywood and aluminum plate. the honker was about 5 feet long, and was anything but light. The arc wheel on the bottom was a tough nut, but I ended up using rounded wood rather than a tire. Even tried it a few times in Cajon Pass, but ended up giving it away.

Your best bet would be to buy a modern blower drywasher; a 3"-4"dredge, or a highbanker. Next would be a series of books about key spots in gold country, and what kind of pickings the old timers got, so you know what to and what not to expect from your work. One of the books I like is Placer Gold Deposits of the Sierra Nevada by Paul D Morrison, as it profiles key mines by county, and who worked them.

You'll still have to get a decent detector, if for nothing else than to have insurance against walking away from the big one, when you packed up all of your other gear.

If you still want another thing to exploit, go to home depot and get a long handled cultivator (too bad they didn't make plastic ones), and figure out some paying lode mine, where you can sit down and claw through the mine dump for specimen pieces. Keep an eye out for crystals too. though not gold, they can be a lucrative side attraction.

We all go after the gold, but then you get nitpickers like me that'll pick up any old junk that may have collector-appeal- there's gold of the gold variety, and then there's another kind of gold that will also build the nest egg and bring in cash.

As you wade down through the posts of times past, all 52 pages or whatever it is, you'll see that even this subject is a re-hash. But wading through the trenches, will bring you tips and treasures that anybody less determined will miss out on learning.

If you haven't already, send Rob a check for $12 for the latest Jim Straight book. It'll answer a lot of your questions with very practical advice auplacers@yahoo.com if you have paypal

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I started with my dad in 1952 :o and for some strange reason I just can't quit. When I get to heaven I want to make sure that I can get a Hermit Pick and bucket cuz I will want to go mining.

The heat has let up a little. Doc and I went out to a new placer location that is about 20 minutes from the house :P . We gave it a shot today and got a little of gold :lol: and I do mean a little bit.


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