Prospecting my own land in NE Washington state?

Fermion

Jr. Member
Jan 12, 2013
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I am fascinated about gold prospecting but have never done much more than pan some creeks in western Washington (and rand a letrap sluice).

I dream of doing a trip to Alaska but we are building a house in the NE corner of Washington state now and are pretty busy in the summer. Maybe in a year or two.

Anyway, in addition to the lot we have in town where we are building our house, we have about 30 acres of mountain land 8 miles out of town. It isn't remote, there is a nice county paved road the property borders and we have built a pole barn on it. At the time of building the pole barn, I had to dig some post holes with my little U35-4 Kubota excavator (8,000 pound machine). I noticed at the time the rocks in the excavated dirt were very round but didn't think a lot about it.

I now wonder if instead of glacial till, those rocks could represent some sort of past water flow. The land is sloping, but not steep, and has benches (one where we built the pole barn). The paved county road is at the bottom of this valley along the side of the property. There is no stream or anything there now though. Since we are about 10 to 15 miles as the crow flies from the Columbia river, I don't even know if it would even have been a path there in the ancient past. I did some searching in this county (Stevens) and there were gold deposits found, but mostly on the river (China Bend) and in some of the mountain areas.

What I am wondering is if there is any chance of some tiny specs actually on my property? Pretty sure it is not economical gold but I am now wondering if it would be interesting to dig down a bit deeper with my excavator in an area and pan some. Could there just be gold in any old river material in north eastern Washington or would it already have been discovered? There are zero signs or indications that our property had ever been mined, but I guess someone in the past 150 years came by to sample, even with no water in the area.

Even if I could only get a few specs it would be fun....right now though we have 12 inches of snow and I can barely get in the driveway lol.
 

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vpnavy

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Jun 15, 2008
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...Could there just be gold in any old river material in north eastern Washington or would it already have been discovered?...
tn_metal_detector.gif
You might consider posting your questionon FORUM: WASHINGTON for additional exposure...
 

arizau

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May 2, 2014
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I am fascinated about gold prospecting but have never done much more than pan some creeks in western Washington (and rand a letrap sluice).

I dream of doing a trip to Alaska but we are building a house in the NE corner of Washington state now and are pretty busy in the summer. Maybe in a year or two.

Anyway, in addition to the lot we have in town where we are building our house, we have about 30 acres of mountain land 8 miles out of town. It isn't remote, there is a nice county paved road the property borders and we have built a pole barn on it. At the time of building the pole barn, I had to dig some post holes with my little U35-4 Kubota excavator (8,000 pound machine). I noticed at the time the rocks in the excavated dirt were very round but didn't think a lot about it.

I now wonder if instead of glacial till, those rocks could represent some sort of past water flow. The land is sloping, but not steep, and has benches (one where we built the pole barn). The paved county road is at the bottom of this valley along the side of the property. There is no stream or anything there now though. Since we are about 10 to 15 miles as the crow flies from the Columbia river, I don't even know if it would even have been a path there in the ancient past. I did some searching in this county (Stevens) and there were gold deposits found, but mostly on the river (China Bend) and in some of the mountain areas.

What I am wondering is if there is any chance of some tiny specs actually on my property? Pretty sure it is not economical gold but I am now wondering if it would be interesting to dig down a bit deeper with my excavator in an area and pan some. Could there just be gold in any old river material in north eastern Washington or would it already have been discovered? There are zero signs or indications that our property had ever been mined, but I guess someone in the past 150 years came by to sample, even with no water in the area.
You will never know unless you test it.* I would test, not only the previously dug material, but also material dug from drainages on your property. They are natural concentrators.

Good luck.

* Gold pans are pretty cheap and you probably already have material to make a box screen to classify the dirt/gravel to 1/2" or less. That will make panning easier. Let us know how you do.
 

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DizzyDigger

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Dec 9, 2012
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Concrete, WA
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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!
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With respect to the those who replied, the NE corner of WA. State has a very rich history of gold. Fermion, are you close to the Similkameen River ? That is your richest river to mine, it has the most beautiful orange color gold.

ET, I believe he's a ways east of Kettle Falls; I agree with ya on the Similkameen. 8-)

Fermion, IMO if you're digging large round rocks, then something wet had to round 'em at some point in history. Are they mixed with gravel, or did you dig thorough a layer of compact gravel?

If so, I'd scoop up a couple buckets of that smaller material, run it through a classifier as Arizau suggests, and then pan it out. Ya got nuthin' to lose but some relaxing time with a gold pan in your hand. :occasion14:
 

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Fermion

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Jan 12, 2013
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ET, I believe he's a ways east of Kettle Falls; I agree with ya on the Similkameen. 8-)

Fermion, IMO if you're digging large round rocks, then something wet had to round 'em at some point in history. Are they mixed with gravel, or did you dig thorough a layer of compact gravel?

If so, I'd scoop up a couple buckets of that smaller material, run it through a classifier as Arizau suggests, and then pan it out. Ya got nuthin' to lose but some relaxing time with a gold pan in your hand. :occasion14:

Yes, a tiny bit south and east of Kettle Falls. The Columbia river is the one near us (and by near, I mean around 10 miles along a path through the valleys).

I had already done a bit of panning in western Washington before we bought this property and built the pole barn, but at the time it didn't even cross my mind to try panning the dirt from the holes. It was only recently that I started thinking about those round rocks.

My wife wants to build a small trommel (really small) for some future trip and I thought it would be cool to test it out and actually be able to find a speck or two on our own land.

There really is not a huge amount of activity in this area except near Republic, WA and I think that is silver mining.
 

BoulderTroll

Jr. Member
Sep 20, 2023
50
139
Bremerton, Wa
Primary Interest:
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I'd say definitely try it! If it's till or river deposits, it's likely to have something.
I live in the lowlands in western WA where there is nothing but till. I was digging a hole for some fill dirt in my back yard and hit a rusty layer. Curiosity got the best of me and I did a few pans and I found a couple specs, but as you say certainly not economical to continue doing it haha
 

Tesorodeoro

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Jan 21, 2018
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definitely test with a pan and do some research on nearby mining history.

But if you do find gold, don’t make too big of plans until you determine if you actually own the mineral estate. That’s a good rabbit hole to dive down!
 

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Fermion

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Jan 12, 2013
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definitely test with a pan and do some research on nearby mining history.

But if you do find gold, don’t make too big of plans until you determine if you actually own the mineral estate. That’s a good rabbit hole to dive down!
We bought the property several years ago with all rights above and below, although I do not think there really is any marketable minerals in this area (maybe uranium lol). There may be some flakes, which is really all I am hoping to see. No water on site so even if there were more than that it would be a pain to mine.
 

Tesorodeoro

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Jan 21, 2018
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We bought the property several years ago with all rights above and below, although I do not think there really is any marketable minerals in this area (maybe uranium lol). There may be some flakes, which is really all I am hoping to see. No water on site so even if there were more than that it would be a pain to mine.
I don’t want to side track your discussion on potential mining opportunities. My only comment is to get yourself a pan and do a little testing. You may be surprised to find there is gold (maybe not in commercially viable concentrations). My dad crushed up some quartz rocks at his place (an area near but not in known mining areas). He found colors which surprised me.
 

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Fermion

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Today was a nice day and I had to go to the property anyway to pick up summer tires (so little snow this year). I went to the area where 5 years ago I had dug a small hole with my little excavator and put a few shovels of the dirt in a 5 gallon bucket. I have no idea what part of the hole it was from or how 5 years of rain has messed with it. I took it home and panned it out and actually found 2 gold specs. Quite a bit of black sand and lots of pink and white quartz, chip size to golf ball size. Some rounded rocks and some broken up rocks.

I was surprised at the black sand and 2 gold specs. I had not figured on finding anything from just random dirt on my property.

Now I am wondering what I could find there if I actually tried lol.
 

Gold4Mike

Full Member
May 10, 2017
230
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Mount Vernon, Washington
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The Columbia River actually strayed around quite a bit in it's multi million year history so where you are it could be ancient Columbia or other river gravels that you are finding. Who knows how it's concentrated until you actually check. Sounds like a fun thing to investigate! Check out Nick Zentner "Ancient Rivers of the Northwest" which gives you an idea on how our biggest rivers moved all over the place over millions of years. Please update us on anything you find!
 

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Fermion

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Jan 12, 2013
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Here is a topo of the area where our land is. The red X is where I took that bucket of dirt. Our land does sort of look like the inside bend of some old water flow if you pictured it coming from the north to the south?

I am not really serious about mining this property, but just find it fascinating to find gold on something where I doubt anyone has searched (remember, there is no water nearby, except a creek about a mile away and the Columbia is 8 to 10 miles away as the crow flies). When I get my excavator back on the property, do you think I would find more than 2 specs per ~5 gallon if I dug deeper or in a different area? My excavator can dig about 9 feet deep, but this dirt was probably from 3 feet deep (when I piled it up 4 years ago).

The neat thing is there is enough black sand that I can start testing some homemade equipment I want to build anyway, for when I get to "real" gold country lol.

testhole.jpg
 

arizau

Bronze Member
May 2, 2014
2,491
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AZ
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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
Here is a topo of the area where our land is. The red X is where I took that bucket of dirt. Our land does sort of look like the inside bend of some old water flow if you pictured it coming from the north to the south?

I am not really serious about mining this property, but just find it fascinating to find gold on something where I doubt anyone has searched (remember, there is no water nearby, except a creek about a mile away and the Columbia is 8 to 10 miles away as the crow flies). When I get my excavator back on the property, do you think I would find more than 2 specs per ~5 gallon if I dug deeper or in a different area? My excavator can dig about 9 feet deep, but this dirt was probably from 3 feet deep (when I piled it up 4 years ago).

The neat thing is there is enough black sand that I can start testing some homemade equipment I want to build anyway, for when I get to "real" gold country lol.

View attachment 2133221
When you dig, check the walls for layer changes especially those with river worn rocks and gravel. Sample the transition zones. Another thing to look for is reddish colored soil deposits which could indicate iron mineralization. Gold is sometimes found in those types of deposits.
Good luck.
 

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