Placer Claim Mined Out?

desertgolddigger

Hero Member
May 31, 2015
978
1,793
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 47

russau

Gold Member
May 29, 2005
7,227
6,668
St. Louis, missouri
Yep ,experiment with your set up ! And remember the PVC tube will need to be just above the height of the material/rocks that your sucking up ! I liked this PVC set up that had the ends of that tube of Rear Earth Magnets sealed off so that the B.S. did not get to the R.E. Magnets and all I had to do to clean off that tube was pull it off and wipe it down and reinstall it and then do the same to the other tubes one-at-a-time! Therefore not impeding production ! :coffee2: and keeping all the B.S. from clogging the riffles !
 

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desertgolddigger

Hero Member
May 31, 2015
978
1,793
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
Still working with the RE magnets set up under the sluice. It's working nicely, but the idea of removing a tube, and ridding it of most of the magnetics, and putting it back sounds wonderful.

Today I rummaged through my stash of odds and ends, and found the automotive oil/fluid reservoir with adjustable flow, and mounted it over the sluice bed feed area.

Took me few adjustments to determine the lowest flow rate without clogging.

I still have to scoop five cups of material, add water, and stir it into solution. But adding it to this hopper, instead of trying to carefully pour out of a bucket, isn't necessary now. Saves some back strain. Still have to pour into the reservoir, but I just pour quickly, and let the feeder do the work.

The material I used was apparently very low grade, as I only saw a few specks. But I always move the mercury around the pan to be sure. And apparently, these past two days is seeing some changes in that mercury ball, even though I'm not seeing visible gold, or very little of it.
 

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desertgolddigger

Hero Member
May 31, 2015
978
1,793
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
I went out on my weekly prospecting tour. I went back to one wash that I'd dug into near its bottom. Today I dug two test holes near the top, and found just two speck, as compared to dozens lower down. I'm guessing there is a side feeder into this very steep wash that's depositing this tiny gold into.

Next week I'll start looking of these side feeders, and try to find the one responsible for the gold. Then I just need to find the source.

The other test hole was a bust, even though it was loaded with black sands.

I need to spend the next week drawing on my topo maps, the township sections I'm interested in. I tried satellite photos, but they don't tell me a whole lot due to very little differences in color. So I don't see the elevation changes, unless it's significant.

Elevation changes tell me more about there I am, instead of just trying to follow a road on the map. The combination of the road twists and turns and the elevation changes will be better.
 

Assembler

Silver Member
May 10, 2017
3,009
1,130
Detector(s) used
Whites, Fisher, Garrett, and Falcon.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
I went out on my weekly prospecting tour. I went back to one wash that I'd dug into near its bottom. Today I dug two test holes near the top, and found just two speck, as compared to dozens lower down. I'm guessing there is a side feeder into this very steep wash that's depositing this tiny gold into.

Next week I'll start looking of these side feeders, and try to find the one responsible for the gold. Then I just need to find the source.

The other test hole was a bust, even though it was loaded with black sands.

I need to spend the next week drawing on my topo maps, the township sections I'm interested in. I tried satellite photos, but they don't tell me a whole lot due to very little differences in color. So I don't see the elevation changes, unless it's significant.

Elevation changes tell me more about there I am, instead of just trying to follow a road on the map. The combination of the road twists and turns and the elevation changes will be better.
I went out on my weekly prospecting tour. I went back to one wash that I'd dug into near its bottom. Today I dug two test holes near the top, and found just two speck, as compared to dozens lower down. I'm guessing there is a side feeder into this very steep wash that's depositing this tiny gold into.
A few pans of testing will tell you if the side feeders are the source of the colors.
 

arizau

Bronze Member
May 2, 2014
2,471
3,837
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
I need to spend the next week drawing on my topo maps, the township sections I'm interested in. I tried satellite photos, but they don't tell me a whole lot due to very little differences in color. So I don't see the elevation changes, unless it's significant.

I find the satellite photos most helpful in seeing traces of unmapped roads or trails. They usually lead to or by old digs/prospects....new places for me to explore and sample.

Good luck.
 

BoulderTroll

Jr. Member
Sep 20, 2023
47
123
Bremerton, Wa
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
Have you ever tried looking up lidar data in that area? Fortunately in WA, it's very easy to access, but I don't know about California. It's been really helpful to be able to see old roads and trenches. But I don't think you have as many of those pesky trees that get in the way of seeing it there.

1701765868830.png
1701765933906.png
 

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desertgolddigger

Hero Member
May 31, 2015
978
1,793
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
A few pans of testing will tell you if the side feeders are the source of the colors.
Exactly. The next time I'll take my water, basin and pan. I'm just waiting on my 20 gallon water container to arrive, so I can do longer outings. The five gallon one I have doesn't last long.
 

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desertgolddigger

Hero Member
May 31, 2015
978
1,793
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
Have you ever tried looking up lidar data in that area? Fortunately in WA, it's very easy to access, but I don't know about California. It's been really helpful to be able to see old roads and trenches. But I don't think you have as many of those pesky trees that get in the way of seeing it there.

View attachment 2118702 View attachment 2118703
I looked at the National one, but could 't figure out how to remove the red shading.
 

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desertgolddigger

Hero Member
May 31, 2015
978
1,793
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
I guess I have a knack for finding the richest area of gold, then having everything else I dig up in that same location amount to nearly nothing. I dug an old timer waste pile, and got a tremendous amount of gold and black sand.

My next five buckets didn't equal what the first produced.

I glean ed some reddish, and brownish rocks, and those produces some larger specks. I'm going to crush an equal amount tomorrow to see if my trend continues of getting some good gold, then getting basically skunked from that point on.

I hope the good gold I dug in that steep wash wasn't a fluke either. I'll look in those side feeders top that steep wash, and hopefully I will finally find a trail of gold to it's source

Would be nice to finally get a super positive, instead of the little bits and pieces I occasionally have gotten.

But I must say that not one bucket has been totally void of gold. I get at least a few specks, but I feel that's not worth the effort.
 

Assembler

Silver Member
May 10, 2017
3,009
1,130
Detector(s) used
Whites, Fisher, Garrett, and Falcon.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
Exactly. The next time I'll take my water, basin and pan. I'm just waiting on my 20 gallon water container to arrive, so I can do longer outings. The five gallon one I have doesn't last long.
You could do a dry pan test and just use the bottom material to run through a wet pan test to show most of the colors. A few gallons is all that is needed.
 

Assembler

Silver Member
May 10, 2017
3,009
1,130
Detector(s) used
Whites, Fisher, Garrett, and Falcon.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
I guess I have a knack for finding the richest area of gold, then having everything else I dig up in that same location amount to nearly nothing. I dug an old timer waste pile, and got a tremendous amount of gold and black sand.

My next five buckets didn't equal what the first produced.

I glean ed some reddish, and brownish rocks, and those produces some larger specks. I'm going to crush an equal amount tomorrow to see if my trend continues of getting some good gold, then getting basically skunked from that point on.

I hope the good gold I dug in that steep wash wasn't a fluke either. I'll look in those side feeders top that steep wash, and hopefully I will finally find a trail of gold to it's source

Would be nice to finally get a super positive, instead of the little bits and pieces I occasionally have gotten.

But I must say that not one bucket has been totally void of gold. I get at least a few specks, but I feel that's not worth the effort.
I hope the good gold I dug in that steep wash wasn't a fluke either. I'll look in those side feeders top that steep wash, and hopefully I will finally find a trail of gold to it's source
You may get to the point where you can spot some color with you eyes in the rocks up the side feeders. You are finding some larger specks it appears in the reddish / brown rock material.

If you happen to run into a swarm of colors you may be able to use a metal detector to help sort some of the rocks?
 

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desertgolddigger

Hero Member
May 31, 2015
978
1,793
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
Dry and micro gold don't sound like a good choice to me.
99 percent of the gold I find is between 100 mesh and smaller than 400. I would guess that maybe anything larger than 100 mesh might be dry panned.

I'll stick with my bucket sluice for my prospecting. And I only use that after panning the icky muddy dirt, leaving the heavier stuff.

One reason I ordered that truck bed water container. I can spend half a day prospecting before I run out of water.
 

arizau

Bronze Member
May 2, 2014
2,471
3,837
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
Exactly. The next time I'll take my water, basin and pan. I'm just waiting on my 20 gallon water container to arrive, so I can do longer outings. The five gallon one I have doesn't last long.
You already have a water container on order but did you happen to check out water bladders? For your usage, I think one is a more than viable alternative to a hard container. Check amazon for various capacities and brands.

Much success to you!
 

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Assembler

Silver Member
May 10, 2017
3,009
1,130
Detector(s) used
Whites, Fisher, Garrett, and Falcon.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
I like the comparison from what is in your wallet ?
Compared to what is in your test pan?

This will help you track down the bread crumb color trail to get closer to the source.
 

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Assembler

Silver Member
May 10, 2017
3,009
1,130
Detector(s) used
Whites, Fisher, Garrett, and Falcon.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
Something to think about is if it takes between 4 - 10 pans to give a solid answer as to where the colors are coming from. It could be easier to carry the material out to where you have plenty of water or if you like just carry enough water for about 3 pans at a time to the location.
 

Assembler

Silver Member
May 10, 2017
3,009
1,130
Detector(s) used
Whites, Fisher, Garrett, and Falcon.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
Something to think about is you may be way better off just mining the colors and pass on the micro values. Carrying out many buckets of material just to recover micro values would not be my first choice for retirement enjoyment.
 

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