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  1. #1
    fbeal

    old hand dug tailings

    Helena Montana is an awesome place to look for gold. Lots of mining history. Last weekend I went to the top of the drainage a fair distance above where I had sluiced out some placer gold the week before (newbie finds gold topic). This and neighboring drainages produced thousands of ounces in the late 1800s. In a saddle on the ridge were about 40 hand dug holes ranging from 5 to 12 feet deep scattered over an area of about 3 or 4 acres.

    I'm sure it was a fairly common thing in the old days. I was wondering if anyone knew exactly how they determined where to dig. Did they only dig in spots that had exposed quartz outcroppings? Wouldn't there be a good chance for there to be more that was never found? I mean there are small craters scattered around, surely they couldn't get all that was there unless they had been able to strip the whole area.

    Any input would be appreciated.

    Big snows this week so it will probably be a while before I can get back with my detector.

  2. #2
    parttime_miner

    Re: old hand dug tailings

    In a saddle on the ridge were about 40 hand dug holes ranging from 5 to 12 feet deep scattered over an area of about 3 or 4 acres.
    Was there evidence that these were old holes? could be a lot newer than 1880's... look for evidence of people working the area since then...

    Wouldn't there be a good chance for there to be more that was never found?
    Yep... The best place to start looking for gold is where it has already been found... I'd say that there is plenty more there under you...

    I would start by doing a little more research on the area (or maybe you already have) and find out the methods of mining that were used there... did they hydrolic mine ?? did they use long sluices? or smaller scale like long toms and rockers ??

    Where did their water come from to work the placer? Where did the runnoff flow?

    I'd also metal detect around the area and see how old the trash is...

    some ideas to get ya started...

  3. #3
    fbeal

    Re: old hand dug tailings

    I did find some square nails that day which I guess indicate it is a pretty old dig. It probably was worked off and on from 1860s up until WWII. It was too high for hydraulic mining but there is a small spring there which would be big enough for a sluice. I thought since it was near the top of the mountain it was probably lode gold.

    I wonder if it would be possible to core drill here and there between the holes to see whats there. Can you rent a small core drill?

  4. #4
    parttime_miner

    Re: old hand dug tailings

    I'm not familiar with the geology there...

    but... are the holes going through overburden? perhaps they are going for old placer from anceint trietary streams... A lot of mountians have moved since the gold was dropped..

    It doesnt sound like any lode mine I have seen...

    Is there solid rock under you or many feet of dirt?

    Hard rock mines are usually caves into a mountain or a big pit...

    I'd look into the employed mining techniques of that area.

    Does helena Montana have glacier gold? that could explain its location as well...

    Is the gold course or rounded / flakes ?
    Theres somemore ideas for ya....

  5. #5
    fbeal

    Re: old hand dug tailings

    There is anywhere from 6" to 3' of dirt over what appears to be highly fractured rock beds. There were pieces of quartz here and there near the holes. Didn't see any sign of rounded gravels. There are also mine tunnels in the area but none within 1/4 mile or so.

    The area around Helena has many places where people dug these small holes. Seems like they were following exposed veins that didn't run very deep.

    The gold I found about a mile down below was sand sized up to the biggest piece which was about like a sesame seed.

    When I get time I will do a little research at the county records office.

    Thanks for the reply!

  6. #6
    parttime_miner

    Re: old hand dug tailings

    There is anywhere from 6" to 3' of dirt over what appears to be highly fractured rock beds
    Ok, I'm getting a better picture of what It looks like...

    The gold I found about a mile down below was sand sized up to the biggest piece which was about like a sesame seed.
    Well, it sounds to me like course gold from quartz... like you said...

    I'd poke around a bit in some of the holes with a metal detector... perhaps you can find a sample of the gold quartz matrix so you know that is what you are after... also, pay close attention to the type / color of the rock in any tailing piles... as it may lead you to similar host rock...

    My understanding of quartz gold is that it is concentrated in high grade deposits, and spread out in low grade deposits...
    this would explain all the holes... But it also means that what is left could be anywhere....

    but, Surely they missed some!

    Try the local museum for more info as well...

  7. #7

    Apr 2003
    Alberta
    Various Minelabs(5000, 2100, X-Terra 705), Falcon MD20, and the Tesoro Sand Shark for sniping underwater on cleaned bedrock.
    3,474
    1813 times
    Metal detecting for gold and Surface Suction Sluicing, AKA Triple-S mining.

    Re: old hand dug tailings

    Fbeal,

    If the area you're searching has a lot of old hand dug test pits? (It sounds like that's what you're describing) you could get lucky and find a piece of specimen gold with your detector. If you want to find nuggets, you'd do better to find hand dug placer test pits. The first nugget I found with a detector came from one of those, and it was a beauty. It was located up on the side of the test pit--they'd thrown it out in the 1800's when they were digging the test hole!

    All the best,

    Lanny
    Nothin' quite as fun as chasin' sassy gold! http://www.treasurenet.com/forums/me...mysteries.html

  8. #8
    us
    Jul 2004
    Angels Camp,Ca.
    450
    229 times

    Re: old hand dug tailings

    Hello fbeal,could be just as suspected,they were pocket hunting.Are there any veins showing on the surface,there or nearby?scratch around in those holes at the uphill side and see if you can pick up the lead again.if you find any veins take small samples from different spots including the wall rock,clay,dirt etc. dave

  9. #9
    fbeal

    Re: old hand dug tailings

    Seems like they dug into every exposed outcropping. Sometimes pretty deep. In several places the holes are strung out three or four in a straight line.

    I will definitely head back for more detecting and maybe will set up a sluice in that high stream and so some sampling.

 

 

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