Tips of the trade: How to find gold in streams and rivers

Posted October 13

In this Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, photo, Chris Hall shows off a vile of gold he's mined from the Wild Ammonoosuc River in Bath, N.H. A new generation of gold miners is giving prospecting a try, especially in New England and the Pacific Northwest. The growth is attributed partially to television shows like "Yukon Gold." (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

A growing number of people are heading to the streams and rivers in search of gold. There is plenty to be had, experts say, but probably not enough for you to quit your day job.

To find the specks of gold or even a nugget or two, you will need to the right equipment and keen sense of where to find it. A few tips from the experts:



There are thousands of places across the country to go in search of gold. Along with Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire in the Northeast, North Carolina and Georgia are popular with miners in the Southeast, while California, Utah, Oregon, Nevada and Idaho are well known out West.

To find a good stream, it's probably worth joining the Gold Prospectors Association of America or searching for a mining club on Facebook in your area. Every few years, the Gold Prospectors put out a book of all the land claims that members can prospect for gold.



For the beginner, it is advisable to dress for wet conditions with many miners wearing hip boots during the summer and waders in the fall. You should also bring a pan the size of a dinner plate, a strainer called a classifier and sucker bottles to capture the gold. More serious miners might consider investing in a suction dredge and sluice box — where legal — that allows them to process much more material.



The first step is finding the right spot in the river where the gold might collect, such as a crook in the bedrock, idle pools, log jams, inside corners of rivers or spaces between boulders. Then start digging, filling your pan with gravel.

From there, continuously weed out the bigger rocks and pebbles. Then, place the pan underwater and saturate what remains, a process that allows the lighter material to float away.

With the pan still underwater, slosh the muddy mix back and forth. After a few minutes, you should be left with black sand — hopefully speckled with flakes of gold.


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