Aug 03, 2007, 10:21 AM
Treasure hunting NY article
Getting to the bottom of buried treasures
Many years ago, I heard rumors of gold in the Adirondacks.
It seems that a man in Thurman, a small town west of Lake George, had panned enough gold from a local stream to make his wife a wedding band. So with a "gold rush" so close to home, we had to check it out.
We headed north with high hopes of finding some shiny, gold nuggets in our pans. Yeah, right!
A day spent digging under rocks and working the sand on the bottom of the little creek gave us a few gold flakes. There was only one problem _ it was iron pyrite, also known as foolís gold.
Maybe our technique was all wrong, but the creek certainly didnít have any nuggets just waiting for a couple of amateur fortune seekers to pick them up.
The scene was entirely different along the Arkansas River, where I stood one evening at a campground in central Colorado. There was an old fellow working the black sand beneath the rocks. He showed us several nice nuggets and a small bottle of flakes heíd found earlier in the day. He said he usually made $350 for a dayís panning, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.
As far as I know, thereís no gold in the Adirondacks.
Near Speculator, there is a notch between two mountains called Gold Mine Pass. Many, many years ago, a couple of less-than-honest fellows dug a hole alongside Silver Creek and salted the mine with a few flakes of gold that they filed from some old jewelry. They successfully sold shares in the gold mine to some local folks before exiting the county with a pockets full of cash.
According "The Search for Adirondack Gold," a book by Ron Johnson, "there is gold in the mountains." But I hiked near Indian Lake last summer with a geology professor, and he said there is no gold because of the type of rock in the Adirondacks.
People often go to the Adirondacks in search of other gems and treasures. Just north of Herkimer, along Route 28, the famous Herkimer diamonds are quite plentiful. They arenít real diamonds, but they are quite beautiful. The diamond mines are just places bull-dozed into the ground where you can pay a few dollars to dig and break the dolomite in hopes of finding a stash of the double-ended quartz crystals.
Once, we went to the Ace of Diamonds mine in Middleville. The owners had just cleaned off a new shelf and exposed numerous large chunks of gray stone. With hammers and sledges, we broke open the rock, exposing dozens of the clear, diamond-like crystals. They attract rock hounds and amateur prospectors from all over the world. Itís fun to break open the rocks, because you never know what youíll find inside. The best crystals are salable and make wonderful jewelry.
You also can head over near the Gore Mountain Ski Area and dig garnets from the sand and rocky debris. Most of the red crystals are very poor quality and are only good for sandpaper grit, but every once in a while, a gem-quality stone turns up.
Probably the best way to find any buried treasure around these parts is by using a metal detector. I watched a guy strike gold in the sands of Lake Georgeís Million Dollar Beach one morning. It was a 1973 class ring from a high school downstate.
The man said he found something every day, including jewelry and lots of coins. It seemed to be a great hobby and a good way to spend some time outside. You can use a metal detector just about anywhere, and thereís a good chance youíll find something because people lose things all the time.
Just remember the old saying: "All that glitters is not gold."
Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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