Placer Claim Mined Out?

desertgolddigger

Bronze Member
May 31, 2015
1,055
1,967
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

Assembler

Silver Member
May 10, 2017
3,189
1,259
Detector(s) used
Whites, Fisher, Garrett, and Falcon.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
Something to think about is if you locate the general source area of the colors you could likely recover way more per day of work then many days or even weeks or longer of work with the micro values.

Getting out and using the simple pan could pay off big time in helping you to locate where the colors are coming from.
 

Dejure

Jr. Member
Nov 30, 2023
43
62
Sounds like a good place to have stirred up a bit, to bring things up into detecting range.

My buddy has several claims on the Yukon. The first year he ran one of the already worked claims a guy with a detector got permission from him to work the tailings. He found a 13 ounce, jewelry grade nugget.
 

Assembler

Silver Member
May 10, 2017
3,189
1,259
Detector(s) used
Whites, Fisher, Garrett, and Falcon.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
Sounds like a good place to have stirred up a bit, to bring things up into detecting range.

My buddy has several claims on the Yukon. The first year he ran one of the already worked claims a guy with a detector got permission from him to work the tailings. He found a 13 ounce, jewelry grade nugget.
Great point about stirring up a bit.

If the area has a history of some nuggets that is a big plus factor and reason to use the good old detector some at least in some areas.
 

OP
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Bronze Member
May 31, 2015
1,055
1,967
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
Was out on my weekly excursion to try finding either a placer or lode. No luck at all. I did get one speck in a wash just below an old timer surface mine. I doubt it's worth the effort to dig that wash, as that speck was from half a five gallon bucket.

The steep wash I thought might lead me to a lode is a bust. After digging about 10 holes, and not getting a thing except that first hole I dug, makes continuing a wasted effort.

99 percent of the gold found by the old timers is now claimed by corporations. And most of the paying placers are already claimed either by individuals, clubs, or again, corporations.

I'll keep going out and digging in every wash I see, but I get the feeling I'm wasting my time. On top of that, I just don't know what rock outcrops might be something to look at. All I see is shale type rock, and lots of Sun baked boulders/rocks turned to black or reddish colors. These Sun baked rocks aren't due to mineralization

If I feel up to it, I'll try next Monday.
 

Assembler

Silver Member
May 10, 2017
3,189
1,259
Detector(s) used
Whites, Fisher, Garrett, and Falcon.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
The steep wash I thought might lead me to a lode is a bust. After digging about 10 holes, and not getting a thing except that first hole I dug, makes continuing a wasted effort.
If you feel up to it go recheck out the hole where you found the colors and try to find out if the colors came from one or more given rocks.

If you can pinpoint the rock source you will have something to look for where ever you dig next.
 

OP
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Bronze Member
May 31, 2015
1,055
1,967
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
I decided to sluice some of that red rock. After crushing, milling and sifting, results were a surprise. Not one speck.

Remember I mentioned I'd pulled out both red rock, and some brownish ones, and gotten a bit of gold. Well, the conclusion is that the brownish rock contained the gold, and the reddish rock is junk. From what I can conclude with my meager knowledge, the red rock is oxidized iron. So no more picking up red rocks, as the old timers knew it wasn't worthwhile, and tossed them in the mine waste pile. Still learning.

What a mess this red rock created. I'll have to drain all my water basins, clean them out, and refill them.

I did run 15 scoops of material I'd already milled, and managed a few specks. At least I got something for my efforts.

Looks like I will be disregarding most old timers waste piles, unless I see something promising. I doubt these old timers missed much, as they were trying to make a living for themselves, and their families.

I guess I'll just scout the washes in the area, and hope someone missed something.
 

Assembler

Silver Member
May 10, 2017
3,189
1,259
Detector(s) used
Whites, Fisher, Garrett, and Falcon.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
If you decide to go back and check out the hole where you found some colors be sure the look for any float rocks that don't match the surrounding rock types.

Perhaps there is some brown rocks that you mentioned that have some seam lines of value in them. Be sure to look them over carefully with your eye's / magnifier glass. Even try your metal detector with them away from the ground iron.
 

OP
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Bronze Member
May 31, 2015
1,055
1,967
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
If you decide to go back and check out the hole where you found some colors be sure the look for any float rocks that don't match the surrounding rock types.

Perhaps there is some brown rocks that you mentioned that have some seam lines of value in them. Be sure to look them over carefully with your eye's / magnifier glass. Even try your metal detector with them away from the ground iron.
I already looked for out of place rocks. None were seen. That's something I've been doing almost from the start. Probably the only reason I've managed a few specks of gold from our club claim.

I probably won't pursue a hard rock source where I dug the hole. It's inside a placer claim that doesn't have any markers. I'm not sure that the owner would understand that he can have a placer claim, and someone else can have a lode claim, or so someone on this forum said was possible.

Right now I'm starting to look on the western side of a mountain (I call it a large hill). There's oodles of washes in the area; enough to keep me busy for months. There's also a sandy expanse, with lots of rock outcrops, and washes just across the dirt road. All of this is outside the corporate claim dead center of the Township Section.

Not sure that corporation has done any prospecting, or if they just laid claim to throw people like me off. Barry set me straight on that tactic.
 

Assembler

Silver Member
May 10, 2017
3,189
1,259
Detector(s) used
Whites, Fisher, Garrett, and Falcon.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
I already looked for out of place rocks. None were seen. That's something I've been doing almost from the start. Probably the only reason I've managed a few specks of gold from our club claim.
Did you happen to pinpoint the out of place rocks?

Be sure to keep looking for out of place float rock as you go along.

Do you see any bedrock out in the many washes?
 

OP
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Bronze Member
May 31, 2015
1,055
1,967
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
GOOD NEWS, and end of frustration.

No, I didn't find a placer or lode. I decided that most of what I've been toting home, while it had smidgens of gold, are no worth my effort.

After this mornings red disaster, I went ahead, and tried some of the rocks I got from the waste pile next to what I call "The Pit". I think I'd filled about half a bucket this morning from this rock stash.

But I decided I was going to be very choosey as to what I took my sledge hammer to. The rock I gave one whack. If it didn't have a color from light tan to dark brown running through it, it went into the reject bucket, which will be used for claim road repair.

What I ended up sledging was about 40 percent of the rock from that half bucket. I milled and sifted it, then sent it through both sluices.

The end results was a nice two inch line of gold, which amounted to ten times what I managed to get in the past two weeks.

Frustration is over.

I will go ahead on process the rest of my buckets with milled/sifted material, then will go back to processing "The Pit" rock. Hopefully this evenings take isn't a fluke, and I can repeat.

I worked on my mercury retort today, cleaning/burning all the oil out of the metal parts. I did this, as I now have nearly 15 grams of gold/mercury amalgam ready for it. Don't know how much gold is contained in this ball. I've squeezed as much mercury out of it so that it's mostly gold, with a bit of mercury holding it all together. It nearly wants to fall apart. Maybe I can retort some next week. Will have to do it when there's a breeze, and of course, wear that mask with the filters designed for such work.
 

Last edited:
OP
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Bronze Member
May 31, 2015
1,055
1,967
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
Did you happen to pinpoint the out of place rocks?

Be sure to keep looking for out of place float rock as you go along.

Do you see any bedrock out in the many washes?
This applies to the area I'm now prospecting on the west side of a mountain. Only see bedrock on the washes on the slope here and there. On the other side of the road I'm guessing most are quite deep in sand and rock. But there are some exposed sections of bedrock over there also.

I'm guessing you're going to tell me to check the cracks in the bedrock, and areas that aren't quite so deep in sand, and rock. That would be a more efficient way of sampling for black sand and fine gold.

Not going back to the placer claim area to try finding a lode. I don't want a confrontation with the placer owners. They have a huge trailer with all kinds of equipment for processing large quantities of material, so they seem serious. I also noted three pup tents for when they are working.
 

Assembler

Silver Member
May 10, 2017
3,189
1,259
Detector(s) used
Whites, Fisher, Garrett, and Falcon.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
This applies to the area I'm now prospecting on the west side of a mountain. Only see bedrock on the washes on the slope here and there. On the other side of the road I'm guessing most are quite deep in sand and rock. But there are some exposed sections of bedrock over there also.

I'm guessing you're going to tell me to check the cracks in the bedrock, and areas that aren't quite so deep in sand, and rock. That would be a more efficient way of sampling for black sand and fine gold.

Not going back to the placer claim area to try finding a lode. I don't want a confrontation with the placer owners. They have a huge trailer with all kinds of equipment for processing large quantities of material, so they seem serious. I also noted three pup tents for when they are working.
Well it looks like you have found some rock that should be looked at first.
Yes it would be a good idea to check the bedrock when you can.
 

southfork

Bronze Member
Jun 15, 2014
2,318
7,541
California
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
GOOD NEWS, and end of frustration.

No, I didn't find a placer or lode. I decided that most of what I've been toting home, while it had smidgens of gold, are no worth my effort.

After this mornings red disaster, I went ahead, and tried some of the rocks I got from the waste pile next to what I call "The Pit". I think I'd filled about half a bucket this morning from this rock stash.

But I decided I was going to be very choosey as to what I took my sledge hammer to. The rock I gave one whack. If it didn't have a color from light tan to dark brown running through it, it went into the reject bucket, which will be used for claim road repair.

What I ended up sledging was about 40 percent of the rock from that half bucket. I milled and sifted it, then sent it through both sluices.

The end results was a nice two inch line of gold, which amounted to ten times what I managed to get in the past two weeks.

Frustration is over.

I will go ahead on process the rest of my buckets with milled/sifted material, then will go back to processing "The Pit" rock. Hopefully this evenings take isn't a fluke, and I can repeat.

I worked on my mercury retort today, cleaning/burning all the oil out of the metal parts. I did this, as I now have nearly 15 grams of gold/mercury amalgam ready for it. Don't know how much gold is contained in this ball. I've squeezed as much mercury out of it so that it's mostly gold, with a bit of mercury holding it all together. It nearly wants to fall apart. Maybe I can retort some next week. Will have to do it when there's a breeze, and of course, wear that mask with the filters designed for such work.
Just curious as to what you're going to seal the threads with on the retort. I've been using spray can graphite inside the cap and pipe threads on the retort so you can get it nice and tight keeps the amalgam from sticking. I also use a pipe wrench to snug up the cap just go easy but you want a tight fit. Don't be in a hurry let it get good and hot make sure to use a vapor break on the discharge hose to be safe.
 

OP
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Bronze Member
May 31, 2015
1,055
1,967
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
Just curious as to what you're going to seal the threads with on the retort. I've been using spray can graphite inside the cap and pipe threads on the retort so you can get it nice and tight keeps the amalgam from sticking. I also use a pipe wrench to snug up the cap just go easy but you want a tight fit. Don't be in a hurry let it get good and hot make sure to use a vapor break on the discharge hose to be safe.
The instructions say to use mud. I've plenty of that from my ore processing. I have a recirculating water retort, so it should cool off the mercury as it passes through the tube, and down into the cotton cloth. Instructions also say to use aluminum foil to wrap the amalgam in so it doesn't stick to the steel cap. I guess the vaporized mercury can seep through the seams in the foil wrap.
 

OP
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Bronze Member
May 31, 2015
1,055
1,967
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
After my volunteer work at the observatory, I got in another round of hammering rock, milling and sifting it. I was quite surprised I got a bit better than the previous round. Things are looking up so far.

Unfortunately my electric sifter motor seized up, and isn't repairable. So I'm back to hand sifting until I can afford another machine
 

DizzyDigger

Gold Member
Dec 9, 2012
5,911
11,697
Concrete, WA
Detector(s) used
Nokta FoRs Gold, a Gold Cube, 2 Keene Sluices and Lord only knows how many pans....not to mention a load of other gear my wife still doesn't know about!
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
After my volunteer work at the observatory,.....

If I ever have a chance to get back down there I'd love to see that observatory. Finally gave up and sold my 102mm APO and mount. Just too many cloudy nights up here in the far NW.

Still, I can see quite a few of the Messier targets with my bino's, but I do miss seeing all the nebula's in Sagittarius in the Summer months.
 

OP
OP
D

desertgolddigger

Bronze Member
May 31, 2015
1,055
1,967
Twentynine Palms, California
Detector(s) used
Bounty Hunter Time Ranger
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
If I ever have a chance to get back down there I'd love to see that observatory. Finally gave up and sold my 102mm APO and mount. Just too many cloudy nights up here in the far NW.

Still, I can see quite a few of the Messier targets with my bino's, but I do miss seeing all the nebula's in Sagittarius in the Summer months.
Our problem is not the clouds, but the wind, and in the summer, the extreme heat.

Wish you could make it down to "The Sky's the Limit Observatory and Nature Center". It's more difficult to participate on moonless Saturday's. Those who want to, have to purchase a ticket now. Reason was we were being swamped by hundreds, and basically no way to accommodate more than 150. Our program has grown from just a star party, to having guest speakers, and semi-professional video presentations of the night sky. The small telescope people are just a side show now.

Don't get discouraged and quit. Binoculars are quick and easy to use, and there are virtually 100's of objects you can observe with just 10x50's. Of course, you need to take advantage of those nights of deep darkness, and transparent skies. Not many of those in a year nowadays. Last Saturday, the Andromeda Galaxy was naked eye due to one of those rare perfect seeing nights.
 

Red_desert

Gold Member
Feb 21, 2008
6,872
3,524
Midwest USA
Detector(s) used
Garrett Ace 250/GTA 1,000; Fisher Gold Bug-2; Gemini-3; Unique Design L-Rods
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
I decided to sluice some of that red rock. After crushing, milling and sifting, results were a surprise. Not one speck.

Remember I mentioned I'd pulled out both red rock, and some brownish ones, and gotten a bit of gold. Well, the conclusion is that the brownish rock contained the gold, and the reddish rock is junk. From what I can conclude with my meager knowledge, the red rock is oxidized iron. So no more picking up red rocks, as the old timers knew it wasn't worthwhile, and tossed them in the mine waste pile. Still learning.

What a mess this red rock created. I'll have to drain all my water basins, clean them out, and refill them.

I did run 15 scoops of material I'd already milled, and managed a few specks. At least I got something for my efforts.

Looks like I will be disregarding most old timers waste piles, unless I see something promising. I doubt these old timers missed much, as they were trying to make a living for themselves, and their families.

I guess I'll just scout the washes in the area, and hope someone missed something.
Brownish or dark brown rock. Once I pulled one of them out of a dry wash pile. Piles were old below the surface, found it with the old manual adjust Gold Bug-2 using a padded small oval coil. Yes, it sounded off quite loud in hot rock mode. Rubbed edges with my fingers and a bright metal looking spot showed brilliant in the sun. I had to sit down and catch my breath. Forgot to pick up the half dollar size brownish rock then walked away several steps. Lost my gold, never did find it again. It was hot, me thirsty had just sipped a cold one.
 

Red_desert

Gold Member
Feb 21, 2008
6,872
3,524
Midwest USA
Detector(s) used
Garrett Ace 250/GTA 1,000; Fisher Gold Bug-2; Gemini-3; Unique Design L-Rods
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Brown rock was with a pile of black chunks, a magnetic mineral. Thinking this area was downhill to north of La Cholla Mt.
 

Top Member Reactions

Users who are viewing this thread

Top