The big question most everyone has, including me, is where to find gold.
The answer to that question is, where it has been found before. Where has it been found before
The answer to that question is research.
To properly research and area to prospect, you first need to learn the history of the area.
There are five basic questions that need to be answered.
# 1 When was gold discovered in this area.
# 2 How long did they worked the area.
# 3 What type of recovery equipment did they use
# 4 The size and quantity of gold recovered.
# 5 Was the area reworked later.
#1 When was gold discovered in the area
If the area you're looking at was discovered and worked at the beginning of the gold rush
1848 to 1851, it may have been worked quickly and not very thoroughly. The first miners to work
the rivers had little more than a pick, shovel, and gold pan. The basic essentials to live were hard
to come by. There were very few roads, and even less gold mining gear. During this time there
were a lot of new rich discoveries. The miners would be enticed to leave to richer digging before
they worked out the area. A lot of these areas were covered by the tailings of later mining.
By 1851 there were a lot more miners in California. They had better equipment available to
them. In most areas the rocker box had been replaced by the longtom. Rather than individual
miners working a claim, the miners would now form small groups. With a longtom, a group of
miners could work a lot more efficiently and move much more gravel than before.
By the end of 1853 most of the easy surface gold had been recovered. Between 1854 and the
1880's most all the mining in California was done by large companies. The miners were now just
wage earners. With the discovery of a hydraulic mining during this period, mining in California
completely changed. They were able to move vast quanties of gravel. A lot of the rivers were filled
in with the tailing of these operations, burying the gold that was missed in the river. Over the years
these tailing have mostly washed away.
#2 How long were they there.
As a general rule, the shorter the miners were in an area, the better.
The length of time the miners were in an area will give you clues to how rich the area was, and
how hard they worked it. During the gold rush miners had to find a lot more gold to survive then
we need to today. An area that wasn't producing enough in 1850, would be considered rich today.
Sometimes when the miners were working an area, they would hear of a rich strike not too far
away. A lot of them would just pick up and go. This would leave a lot of unprocessed gravel and
gold left behind.
If the area has a few piles of rocks and not much more, they probably weren't there are very
long. Researching the area will give you clues to why they left. Was it not enough gold? Or richer
diggings were discovered 5 miles away.
Now if they are area you're looking at, has acres of tailings and miles of flumes, you can be
sure they were there for a long time. Now if they were there for a long time, they had to be getting
gold. What researching the area will tell you, is how much they got and why they quit.
Now if they worked in area for a long time. The odds are, they worked it pretty hard. When
they had a lot of time and money invested in a area, there going to get as much as they can out of
it. In a lot of the large diggings that were worked over several years, once the miners left, the
Chinese would move in. The Chinese were very good and very meticulous about there mining,
they didn't leave much.
#3 What type of recovery equipment did they use
The method of mining they used, will give you an indication to how well they worked in area. If
all they used were gold pans and rocker boxes, they probably grabbed what was easy and moved
on. With that very basic equipment they probably lost a lot of gold also.
If they spent months building flumes and investing a lot of time and money in the area they
probably had much better gold recovery equipment. As time went on, the recovery equipment
became much better and they became better miners. The better they became at recovery,
equates to less a gold for us to find today.
CONTINUED NEXT WEEK!
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