Placer Claim Mined Out?

desertgolddigger

Sr. Member
May 31, 2015
258
397
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
I belong to a local club that owns a claim. This club has had this claim for many years, and acquired it after the old timers had mined it previously, and others after they commercial outfits closed up.
I walked quite a bit of the 160 acre claim, and noted that just about every wash had been worked. Most of the surface nuggets has also been detected by those with gold detectors. In other words, this place has been picked over and over and over.
But I m a stubborn type of person, and I figured, just watching how people ram their puffer and blower drywashers, that some gold was just being blown through them. maybe not much, but some small stuff that never got a chance to settle behind the riffles.
I know many of you would never go to the effort of digging for three to four hours through the tailings in these washes. Again, I'm a bit stubborn, and anyway, I just wanted to have some fun locally, instead of driving 300 miles roundtrip to something that gives a little more for less effort.
I've spent the last three weeks, digging a few times a week along about 30 yards of wash, and have recovered just about a gram of gold. That might not seem like much, but I have only dug up 5 grams, not counting this one gram in almost 20 years out here drywashing in the desert of southern California.
As you would know, things always seem to go wrong. My gas powered blower motor decided it was time for the repair shop, and haven't heard from the shop in two weeks. So I purchased a WORX WG521 corded electric leaf blower to use with my Royal Large drywasher. I'm using a portable generator to provide the power. And it actually is working better than with my old gas powered blower. I have to run the blower on the lowest speed, or I just blow everything through the riffles. Results are very good, as I am getting gold specks so small that I will have to use the Blue bowl in order to recover them.
I'm not only getting a little gold, I'm having some fun, and I am getting a good workout. I've lost 10 pounds since I started. So things are going well.
I'm still digging test holes around the old time hard rock mines in the hope I will find where the gold has drifted downhill below these mines. So far just a couple specks here and there. I figure I just have to move laterally one way or the other before I get something better Of course, I' don't really know if the old timers stripped the hillsides. Even if they have, they apparently aren't as thorough as I am. I hope that I may be lucky and find a larger piece of gold that the old timers, previous placer miners, and detectorists have missed.
Hope everyone is having as much fun as I have been having.
 
Upvote 27

arizau

Bronze Member
May 2, 2014
2,352
3,588
AZ
Detector(s) used
Beach High Banker, Sweep Jig, Whippet Dry Washer, Lobo ST, 1/2 width 2 tray Gold Cube, numerous pans, rocker box, and home made fluid bed and stream sluices.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
Some of my reasons too.
Now I process rockerbox tailings with my drywasher. Where I go cannot be claimed now but was a good producing area back in the day. I first prospected this area in the late 1960's. So far I haven't found much but I'm also rarely skunked. It's convenient to me, moderate climate in high desert foothills and far from being crowded. Works for me!!
 
Last edited:

Terry Soloman

Gold Member
May 28, 2010
19,349
29,776
White Plains, New York
🥇 Banner finds
1
🏆 Honorable Mentions:
1
Detector(s) used
Nokta Makro Legend// Pulsedive// Minelab GPZ 7000// Vanquish 540// Minelab Pro Find 35// Dune Kraken Sandscoop// Grave Digger Tools Tombstone shovel & Sidekick digger// Bunk's Hermit Pick
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
Fun is more priceless than the biggest gold nugget!
 
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Sr. Member
May 31, 2015
258
397
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #5
I received my recirculating sluice the other day. I decided to try it out at the claim on some tailing piles.

It basically was a total disaster because the area is so dry. There hasn't been any appreciable rain in our area in about three or so years. So even the drywasher tailings are super powdery. I managed just 2 full buckets before I gave up, as my pump just didn't like all that silt.

I cleaned up as best I could out there with the remaining water I had, packed up, and decided to go out to the old hard rock mining area I discovered. I didn't have but a tiny shovel, so I only got one full bucket of sifted dirt to bring back to the drywasher at home. At first I thought I had gotten skunked, but discovered a lot of black sand and a few very small specks of gold in the bottom of the drywasher. I am thinking this old hard rock mine might have just had this type of gold, versus the chunkier stuff at the clubs claim. At least it wasn't a skunk.

As for the sluice material, I got three nice little fat pieces. This definitely tells me the previous drywashing wasn't done that well. Instead of working the wash, I think I will be visiting these old drywashing piles to see what I can come up with. Hopefully this will get better gold than in the wash. Will let ya know how this goes when I go back again. As for that old hard rock mine, I will be going out there more often, and with better digging tools, and my drywasher. I think I will find better results farther down the wash from the hard rock mines. I was working adjacent to one this morning.
 
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Sr. Member
May 31, 2015
258
397
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #6
Oh yes, almost forgot about another thing at the old hard rock mine. Don't know what all the colours mean, but I liked them. Colors were green, grey, brown, black, white, blue and amethyst. Some of the rock had stripes, but most just one or two colours. A video I watched said the real ugly looking one are the best chance for finding gold. I might break out my 2# sledge, and little mortar and pestle to see if one of those ugly ones might give a few specks of gold.
 

IdahoGoldGettR

Full Member
Mar 13, 2014
159
659
Idaho
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
As they say, “they didn’t get it all.” Kudos to you sir for your efforts. Sometimes it’s not so much about having the gold but finding it that makes life a bit sweeter. Keep us posted as I enjoy tagging along on your adventure.:headbang::icon_thumright:
 
Last edited:
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Sr. Member
May 31, 2015
258
397
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #8
Yes, this gal has lots of fun, just trying to figure out where that yellow stuff is. My opinion is that most people who do drywashing are either impatient, and just run their dirt as fast as they can, or they don't understand how to set the machine up, or maybe a combination of both.

I tend to favour setting up the machine like I'm prospecting for precious stones, and run the material as slow as practical. Takes more time, but for the most part, I rarely have found any gold in the second go around on material, when checking if maybe I ran the material too fast. Anyway, I like just sitting back on the truck tailgate, and relaxing between dumping buckets in the machine. It's nice just lookin out over the desert from the high elevation of the claim.
 
Last edited:

N-Lionberger

Bronze Member
Dec 1, 2013
1,126
1,569
Arcata, California
Detector(s) used
Fisher 1212-x
Fisher Gold Bug 2
Whites 4900/SP3
Dowsing rods
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
It is awfully beautiful out there in the desert I’d like to spend more time out there. I have two homemade drywashers both of the wooden puffer variety, a small lever driven unit and a larger motorized unit. I have found them to be able to capture all kinds of gold including small pieces my wet placer equipment loses. I have only ever used them in bone dry conditions here in Northern California during drought years. I am extremely impressed with the performance of the lever driven mini it’s slow but it really catches some stuff.
 
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Sr. Member
May 31, 2015
258
397
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #10
N-Lionberger, You would do well out here in the Dale Mining District. It's been so dry, the very fine dirt creates dust clouds with my blower type drywasher. Because of this fine dry material, trying to sluice the material is impossible. It just clogs things up. So I've resorted to how I earlier described my drywasher setup, very shallow slope, and running the material very slowly. Yesterday I managed to capture just over 3/10ths of a gram from an old tailing pile.
 
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Sr. Member
May 31, 2015
258
397
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #11
Update on drywashing a very old tailing pile: As of this morning, the fifth day working on this particular, very, very old drywasher tailing pile, I've managed 1.081 grams.

This doesn't include an oddity, which has several bits of gold stuck to a tiny piece of rock. If I can manage a picture of this tiny specimen, I'll post it. (It's too small for my old camera to get a close up of)

And I still have at least two more outings of work on this pile. After that, it is on to another big drywasher pile.
 
Last edited:
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Sr. Member
May 31, 2015
258
397
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #12
After getting a smidgen over 2 grams from two large drywashing tailing piles, I moved on to the next pile. This time I almost got skunked, with only 25 very tiny pieces. This tells me that whomever was doing the drywashing must have set up the washer so that he/she was capturing almost everything. Guess my next outing will be sampling a few piles to see if I can find another one where the person was just blowing things through. Guess I just got lucky with my first two piles.
 

southfork

Bronze Member
Jun 15, 2014
1,664
5,459
California
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
After getting a smidgen over 2 grams from two large drywashing tailing piles, I moved on to the next pile. This time I almost got skunked, with only 25 very tiny pieces. This tells me that whomever was doing the drywashing must have set up the washer so that he/she was capturing almost everything. Guess my next outing will be sampling a few piles to see if I can find another one where the person was just blowing things through. Guess I just got lucky with my first two piles.
Why not just work a wash or ravine save those Dry washer piles for a rake and metal detector just saying. They miss the nuggets sometimes they did a fair job on the fines.
 
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Sr. Member
May 31, 2015
258
397
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #14
Southfork, I don't own a detector good enough to find gold that's that small. Anyway, the wash is too deep in that area for me to get into. That's the reason I'm working the piles. I'd worked the wash farther up, and the 3 foot step down was nearly too much for me, as the sides were nearly sheer bedrock. No, I'll work the piles, as most of that wash is nearly worked down to bedrock.
 

southfork

Bronze Member
Jun 15, 2014
1,664
5,459
California
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Southfork, I don't own a detector good enough to find gold that's that small. Anyway, the wash is too deep in that area for me to get into. That's the reason I'm working the piles. I'd worked the wash farther up, and the 3 foot step down was nearly too much for me, as the sides were nearly sheer bedrock. No, I'll work the piles, as most of that wash is nearly worked down to bedrock.
I was thinking metal detector for the large gold the only place I ever ran a dry washer was near Randsburg . Goler Gulch plenty of gold just to much dust for me lol.
 
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Sr. Member
May 31, 2015
258
397
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #16
Today I am relaxing, running my classified concentrates on my new Royal Gold Dust Miller Concentrating table.

After Robert of Royal, helped me get through the setup hiccups, it is working like a charm. I found that the concentrates separate on the table best when sieved in a 20 mesh range (100-119).

I was astonished at how well the tiny gold stuck to this table. Now I just have to run the 120-139 mesh material, and finer.

This fine gold is what I've been getting out of the old drywasher tailing piles. I have probably gotten hundreds of this fine gold, with no way to recover it until now.

southfork, I've got to try you suggestion about getting into that deep wash. There must be a few ways down that this old body can manage. Just wonder if anything is still down there. Won't know until I try. Just have to figure out how to get all the equipment down in a 15 foot deep wash.
 

arizau

Bronze Member
May 2, 2014
2,352
3,588
AZ
Detector(s) used
Beach High Banker, Sweep Jig, Whippet Dry Washer, Lobo ST, 1/2 width 2 tray Gold Cube, numerous pans, rocker box, and home made fluid bed and stream sluices.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
Today I am relaxing, running my classified concentrates on my new Royal Gold Dust Miller Concentrating table.

After Robert of Royal, helped me get through the setup hiccups, it is working like a charm. I found that the concentrates separate on the table best when sieved in a 20 mesh range (100-119).

I was astonished at how well the tiny gold stuck to this table. Now I just have to run the 120-139 mesh material, and finer.

This fine gold is what I've been getting out of the old drywasher tailing piles. I have probably gotten hundreds of this fine gold, with no way to recover it until now.

southfork, I've got to try you suggestion about getting into that deep wash. There must be a few ways down that this old body can manage. Just wonder if anything is still down there. Won't know until I try. Just have to figure out how to get all the equipment down in a 15 foot deep wash.
If the drywasher piles are on top then their feed source was probably on top too. Have you looked around for dig sites? They may have screened there too. Screens don't discriminate so the dirt clods that were screened off with other oversize may have been gold bearing and now more disentigrated. More screening will probably yield more/virgin feed from the original source.

Good luck.

PS I drywash tails too and also re-screen oversize rejects.
 
Last edited:
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Sr. Member
May 31, 2015
258
397
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #18
arizau, 15 years ago the depth of the wash I mentioned was probably about 4 feet. It's now about 15 feet. Also, the width was probably only 4 feet, and now is about 20 feet or so wide. People are now digging into both sides, slowly widening things. Since it looks like they are down to bedrock, the only way is to widen things.

I could either dig down to bedrock and then through existing tailing piles, or I can try to find something in either of those banks.

I haven't been down there, so I will have to look, and make a decision on which way to try. I'll spend a day or two digging, and if nothing, I will go back to the tailing piles up above. I believe those piles are 5-15 years old from the time when the wash wasn't so deep.

Since there hasn't been any appreciable rain in at lest 3 years, dirt clods are probably non existent. I do tend to scratch at the harden clay and caliche when I work the bedrock. I've found some gold lodged in that stuff.
 
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Sr. Member
May 31, 2015
258
397
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #19
I've been starting to get more of what I call specimen gold lately. It's just a tiny pebble that has gold attached. So far I've found four, but may have more. The only reason I now know I have three mre is because I just had to look at what gold I had in the vial.

Now, if I could just find a larger one. :-)
 
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Sr. Member
May 31, 2015
258
397
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #20
Not much luck today. Just one picker, and 30 some odd smaller ones.

I tried running what I dug up without classifying the material. All it managed to do was clog things up, and create a big mess behind the drywasher. And that method lost a couple little pieces. I went back to my smaller mesh classifier, and things went well, except for the return for my effort. Still had fun, and that's all that really counts.
 

Top Member Reactions

Users who are viewing this thread

Top