Greaterville Trip


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Ruby and I just got back from 32 glorious days in the Greaterville mining district. If you haven't been to Greaterville you are missing a beautiful area of Arizona and some great prospecting ground.

Greaterville is in the Santa Rita Mountains of Southeastern Arizona. About 40 minutes from Tucson it, is an easy and pleasant weekend prospecting trip. The area is covered with knee high grasses, oak and ironwood trees and at 5000 feet in elevation is surprisingly cool. The temperature today (June 13) never reached 80 degrees making it one of the few placer locations in Arizona that is cool enough to comfortably prospect in the summer.

The gold in Greaterville is about 18 karat with the rest mostly silver. Detecting can be very good in washes and on the benches, nuggets tend to be mostly if not all gold, not many inclusions. For those of you detecting with VLF machines you will be pleased that there are virtually no hot rocks. If you stay away from the pounded areas you will find there is little trash - and a lot more gold. The largest nugget reported here was 37 ounces but I have knowledge of 9-12 ouncers being found in the last few years, 1 to five gram nuggets are fairly common. Small gold is surprisingly abundant and easily worked with a recirculating highbanker. Drywashing is not as productive as there is a lot of clay binding with the gold. The ground is very diggable (is that a word?). The gold is coarse and very pretty but then again I haven't seen any ugly gold yet.

Ruby and I spent a good part of our time there defining the gold producing mother rock. We have mapped some exposures as small as a backyard. Most of the gold comes from Granite Mountain, a small outcrop that feeds the seven major gold bearing gulches. There are several hard rock gold mines on Granite Mountain. Overburden in the gulches vary from exposed bedrock at the top to about 12-15 feet as they level out. Gold can be found throughout but with a lot of hand-dug pits there is a lot of variation. We saw some areas that were producing 1/4 to 1/2 .dwt per bucket and a lot more that were producing that much a day. Gold IS where you find it!

Out of about 72 square miles of placer ground we mapped, there are about 3,000 acres of 50/50 land that is not claimable but can be prospected by hand. Some of the best placers are in this 50/50 area. The rest of the land is mostly claimed or private land. There are several club claims including six GPAA claims with the Northernmost one right at the head of Boston gulch, a very productive area, There are also AAGP claims and Tucson's Desert Gold Diggers club as well as others.

There is very good access to the region with several good Forest Service roads. As well as established camping areas there are a lot of good flat areas to pull into just off the Forest roads, many of them with spectacular views of this beautiful area. One of our favorite areas is just up Sucker gulch from the Gardner canyon road, easy access, flat and surprisingly quiet.

Ruby and I spent quite a bit of time with the Forest Service while prospecting and mapping the area. We found the FS to be very accommodating to prospectors. Besides giving us access to gated areas and even letting us and others get water for panning and sluicing they were eager to explain their enforcement policies. Like most agencies they are short of resources and tend to concentrate on fire danger and off road vehicles making their own trails. You are welcome to take your quad on the established and well marked trails but it would be a VERY bad idea to take any short cuts. As far as fire goes once you've seen the area you will agree with their strict enforcement.

We had a few meetings with Chris and Kathy the resident Forest Service archaeologists and we discussed their policy in regards to the dreaded Antiquity Act. They explained that any artifact over 100 years old was within their enforcement but that they weren't about to waste their time testifying against someone picking up trash. On the other hand they have a particular dislike for those who would dig native american artifacts or vandalize standing structures. I wouldn't want to be caught by those two digging native stuff!

The south side of the district is about 20 miles as the crow flies from the U.S./Mexican border. In the 32 days and nights there we saw no evidence of illegal aliens or smuggling. There were no arrests or detentions in the area by the border patrol either. There was no trash - it's a very clean area. We felt safe the entire time and so did the people we met there.

We can't wait to go back to Greaterville. It is more like California's Sierra oak foothills than like Southern Arizona. If you have a weekend or a week you couldn't find a more productive or pretty area to spend some Summer prospecting days. And to make it easier to get there and to find good gold while you are there MinerDiggins will be releasing our FootPrints Greaterville Gold Map this Summer.

clay

MinerDiggins

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Hello Barry,

Great report of the Greaterville area. There's still a lot of gold to be found at those placers if you're willing to spend the time.

One note I would like to add to yours is about 25% of the gold I have recovered from Greaterville is in specimen form. Here is one of my better, smaller specimens from the area.

Yep, heard some nice big nuggets and specimens in the range of 9-12 ounces have been found down there. I got to hold a couple of them. :ph34r:

Take care,

Rob Allison

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Thanks Clay. That was a nice post. I enjoyed reading it very much.

Let me know if you ever get over to the West Coast of Az. We can share a cold one. (I recommend you wait until the Fall tho.....)

Patrick in Havasu.....

Thanks Patrick, I enjoyed writing it - nice break from patent squabbles eh?

I will get to the Havasu and take you up on that! Ya gonna show me your favorite nugget patch? I'll bring a map to mark it on. :rolleyes:

clay

MinerDiggins

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Hello Barry,

Great report of the Greaterville area. There's still a lot of gold to be found at those placers if you're willing to spend the time.

One note I would like to add to yours is about 25% of the gold I have recovered from Greaterville is in specimen form. Here is one of my better, smaller specimens from the area.

Yep, heard some nice big nuggets and specimens in the range of 9-12 ounces have been found down there. I got to hold a couple of them. :ph34r:

Take care,

Rob Allison

Thanks Rob. That's a pretty "smaller specimen". Almost all the gold I saw there was very coarse, even the really small stuff low down in the gulches.

I've never complained about the appearance of any nuggets but I've got a special place in my heart for the crystalline ones. :wub:

clay

MinerDiggins

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HE HE.....Nugget patch? Does one nugget constitute a patch? Thats all I have found so far. But my fun is in the looking and exploring. And the cold drinks after.

Patrick in Havasu.....

Who's counting? :)

A nugget is a nugget. They have always got friends, just gotta find where the party is! :D

At my age I don't care so much if there is a destination it's the journey that counts. And the fact that I'm still movin'... :blink:

clay

MinerDiggins

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Great story , but how about some pics ! I`m not aware of any current Roadrunner claims down there...

Hey adam. I was working from memory on the RR claims. We always do the claims layers last on a map for obvious reasons. I looked it up and the RR claims Johnnie Lee and Toms Place were dropped in the fall of '08. After I looked at their location I can see why. Maybe RR can buy into some decent claims there some day. Sure is a pity they don't have any claims there, it's a great area. I imagine most of their members have memberships in GPAA or one of the other clubs and there is always the 50/50 area. Desert Gold Diggers has memberships for $35.00 a year with $10.00 first year badge fee.

I have lots of pics. What are you interested in, I'll work some up for you. :)

clay

MinerDiggins

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Did the forest service happen to mention that you needed permission from the original land owners who still hold

the mineral rights on the 50/50 land?

Hey way2cool. As I said we spent quite a bit of time with the Forest Service in Greaterville and they never said anything like that to us or any of the other prospectors we met working in the 50/50 area.

We are aware of the 50/50 area obviously. In fact we are still researching the history of ownership in the area, fascinating stuff. The only time we've heard about permission being needed was on the forums.

clay

MinerDiggins

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Sounds like fun!

Thx for the info

Paul

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Hey adam. I was working from memory on the RR claims. We always do the claims layers last on a map for obvious reasons. I looked it up and the RR claims Johnnie Lee and Toms Place were dropped in the fall of '08. After I looked at their location I can see why. Maybe RR can buy into some decent claims there some day. Sure is a pity they don't have any claims there, it's a great area. I imagine most of their members have memberships in GPAA or one of the other clubs and there is always the 50/50 area. Desert Gold Diggers has memberships for $35.00 a year with $10.00 first year badge fee.

I have lots of pics. What are you interested in, I'll work some up for you. :)

clay

MinerDiggins

Well, it go`s both ways Clay. The desert gold diggers could get some mineral rights up here near Phoenix , but they have not. I suppose it is all about their central location/demographics or something. I have been a member of DGD`s for several years, yet have only used a claim or two once.

P.S ... All trip /field reports should be accompanied with pics.. B)

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Well, it go`s both ways Clay. The desert gold diggers could get some mineral rights up here near Phoenix , but they have not. I suppose it is all about their central location/demographics or something. I have been a member of DGD`s for several years, yet have only used a claim or two once.

P.S ... All trip /field reports should be accompanied with pics.. B)

Hey adam. Yeah your probably right about goin' both ways. Of course it's not like the Phoenix area has a lot of cool spots nearby - except up in the Bradshaws. We'll have those maps out a little later this summer.

I've got lots of pictures of lizards and oaks and stuff. If you are looking for nuggeys THIS is all I found.

p.s... You are probably a little too young to have been mining in the early 70s but I distinctly remember the pleasure of having the IRS invade my partners, friends, and many other miners homes in search of non existent giant nuggets to match the polaroids found in rock shops all over California. You ever try to prove to the Government that isn't your hand in the picture? You ever try to explain the nugget in that picture couldn't possibly weigh the 3.5 pounds the gov says it does? Naw I didn't think so. Now days I measure, clean, wrap and rebury all the nuggets I find, it's way cheaper. B) You might want to try Greaterville, it's chock full of clean, wrapped nuggets. :)

clay

MinerDiggins

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:spank: You are SO bad Clay! :rolleyes: LMAO! - Terry

p.s... You are probably a little too young to have been mining in the early 70s but I distinctly remember the pleasure of having the IRS invade my partners, friends, and many other miners homes in search of non existent giant nuggets to match the polaroids found in rock shops all over California. You ever try to prove to the Government that isn't your hand in the picture? You ever try to explain the nugget in that picture couldn't possibly weigh the 3.5 pounds the gov says it does? Naw I didn't think so. Now days I measure, clean, wrap and rebury all the nuggets I find, it's way cheaper. B) You might want to try Greaterville, it's chock full of clean, wrapped nuggets. :)

clay

MinerDiggins

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Clay you said. "We spent quite a bit of time with the Forest Service in Greaterville and they never said anything like that to us or any of the other prospectors we met working in the 50/50 area." Are you saying that you was with FS law enforcement as you and others worked the gulches of 50/50 land? and they said that was okay? Could you give me those enforcement officers names and how to get in contact with them. Were these Law enforcement officers? I need to talk to these guys real bad.

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Clay you said. "We spent quite a bit of time with the Forest Service in Greaterville and they never said anything like that to us or any of the other prospectors we met working in the 50/50 area." Are you saying that you was with FS law enforcement as you and others worked the gulches of 50/50 land? and they said that was okay? Could you give me those enforcement officers names and how to get in contact with them. Were these Law enforcement officers? I need to talk to these guys real bad.

Hey Al

Send me an email at my site (click the link at the bottom).

Go to contact and shoot me your email and let me know what you need. Got visitors tonight so might take awhile.

I'll see what I can do for you.

clay

MinerDiggins

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