Prospecting Tales

Lanny in AB

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Prospecting stories, tips, a few poems on gold hunting, and all are about chasing the gold. Just fly past the poems if you'd rather read stories.

The Tale of Sourdough Sue

It’s time for the tale of Sourdough Sue,

A right salty gal she was, through and through.
She’d followed the strikes all over the west,
And chasin’ the gold was what Sue liked best.

As summer was fadin’ there came word to her
A rush was a hapnin’, for certain, for sure
Yes, gold had been found, big nuggets, coarse flakes
“I’m goin’”, said Sue, “Whatever it takes.”



It seems in Montanny they had them a strike
And word of a rush, them gold diggers like.
So Sue grabbed her gear and loaded her mules
With beans, bacon, flour and stout minin’ tools

At last she was ready to head on up north
Sue knew t’would be tough, but still she set forth.
Why, week after week it was lonely and cold,
But Sue couldn’t shake the lure of that gold.

The weather degraded the farther she went
The storms she encountered seemed not heaven sent
The trek was slow, the wind howled in the trees
The snow was so deep Sue wished she’d brung skis.



Them passes was chokin’ with oodles of snow
The air in them mountains was forty below
Now Sue weren’t no Pilgrim, but this here was tough
The sun had skedaddled, and things were plumb rough.



Sue needed a spot to ride out that storm
A shelter and fire to get herself warm
Well, off in the spindrift she spied her a light
To Sue there weren't never a more welcome sight.

A cabin it was, for certain, for sure
The warmth that it offered was likely a cure
For cold toes and fingers with needle-like pains
(Escape from that storm didn’t take many brains.)

The cabin was home to one Hook-Nosed Bob Brown
His spirits was up, for they never was down.
As looks weren’t his strong suit, Bob’d loaded his mind
With right clever sayin’s from book quotes he’d find.



Now Sue came a stumblin’ from out of that storm
And Hook-Nosed old Bobby just turned on the charm
He sat Suzie down, right close to the heat
Then went to his stable—those mules got a treat,

Bob stripped off their harness, their cold heavy packs
He rubbed them right down with dry gunnysacks
He broke out some oats, some sweet meadow hay
Then forked them some bedding where both mules could lay.

Then back to the cabin he flew off to check
How Sue was a doin’, but she’d hit the deck
A buffalo hide, she’d found near the bed
And close to the fire, she lay like the dead

Well Bob had read somewheres to let such things lie
(T’was somethin’ on canines, to wake them you’d die?)
So Bob settled in for the last of that night
While the storm shook the cabin with all of its might.

The mornin’ it came with a hushed quiet chill
The wind had died out, but the cold was there still.
Bob built up the fire, then snuck off outside
To check on those mules, who thanked him bright-eyed.

Then back to his cabin he sped to his guest
For Sue was a stirrin’, so Bob did his best.
He threw on some bacon, them beans got a stir
Whatever Bob did, he did it for her.

For up on the wall, on a peg near the fire,
A stockin' was hung! For what you enquire?
T’was Christmas of course, and Bob had desired
A gift from old Santa, just like he’d enquired.

Right here lay a woman, fresh in from the storm
And on Christmas eve, he’d made his place warm.
He’d trusted in Santa to grant him his wish
This Sourdough Sue was a right purty dish.

Well Sue and Bob bonded. His nose wasn’t right,
But Bob was so witty, it fled from Sue’s sight;
She saw there, instead of what others had seen,
The solid-gold-Bob that'd always there been.


So, this is the tale of Sourdough Sue
Who went in a rush to find gold, it’s true.
But Sue wasn't savvy to Nick’s crafty plan
To scoot her off northward to find there a man.

And just so you’re certain, so there's not a doubt
(I’m sure in your mind you’ve figured it out)
In Bob’s Christmas stocking, hung there on his wall
Was a note from old Santa explaining it all.


All the best,

Lanny

 
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Lanny in AB

Lanny in AB

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Apr 2, 2003
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Alberta
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  • #202
Nice telling of a great outing with your son Lanny. What cherished moments these will be for both of you.

Mike

Mike, I really appreciate what you've said, thanks! I can't think of a better way to spend my time than building memories with family.

All the best,

Lanny
 
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Lanny in AB

Lanny in AB

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Lanny you painted a very inviting picture of your trip ! Congratulation's !:occasion14:

Thanks for your kind words, truly appreciated.

All the best,

Lanny
 
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Lanny in AB

Lanny in AB

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***Annual Christmas Prospecting Poetry***

Christmas Blizzard Gold

A minin’ boom drew young and old
To find the fabled yellow gold
That Nature’d cached in hills up high
So long ago, in days gone by.

A town erected far below
Was clogged with folks, their hopes aglow
That soon they’d bag some treasured gold
Before the winter got too cold.

Well Jill and Jim were clever folk
Who listened well when others spoke.
They took down notes for finding gold,
Birthed from that fabled Mother Lode.

Those golden tips they cached away
A-waiting for that special day
When grub-staked Jim would ready be
To glean the gold to set them free.

To chase the gold, you’ll need the will,”
(Was told to him by his gal Jill)
“That drive to go and never quit
No matter what to get to it.”

“Then lookey here,” said Jim to Jill,
“I think I’ll prospect yonder hill
Where alders grow all mighty thick
Along its steeply flowing crick.”

So, Jill helped Jim into his pack.
“Now hurry off and don’t come back
Until you’ve found the nugget gold
That Nature’s hid from times of old.”

So Jim, he grabs his mining kit
And then he goes out after it!
He pans the stream and finds some specks
So farther up that crick he treks.

He scouts a spot with workings old
Ones antler-dug, while chasing gold.
Stout trees there grew up out from it,
That long abandoned placer pit.

“Well here’s a mystery, yes siree.
I’ll dig around a bit to see
Jest what those diggers dug for here.”
(He digs a bit, then gives a cheer.)

“Well I’ll be durned.” He says aloud
“These nuggets here will do me proud!”
I’ll rustle up some more of these
To give my Jill a life of ease.”

The work was tough, the days were cold,
While Jim dug out that precious gold.
The season turned, and winter rose,
But Jim toiled on through frost and snows.

He soldiered on through brutal days
A diggin’ through the rocks and clays.
At last he hit the bedrock true,
That cradled clay all colored blue.

He stood there dumb and gazed in awe
At all the gold he surely saw.
“This here’s bonanza gold for sure!
Them nuggets bright look awful pure.”

He worked the clay and freed the gold
That slumbered there from times of old.
He bagged it up, then started down
On Christmas Eve to get to town.

But on his way, a blizzard grew
The drifts were huge, so Jim he knew
His hopes of getting back to see
His precious Jill might never be.

Now Jill was home, and worried sick!
Her Jim was in that blizzard thick.
He’d promised her that home he’d be
To help her trim the Christmas tree.

Her snowshoes stout were resting there
Beside their cabin’s only chair.
“Before I go, I’ll write out quick,
A prayerful note to Old Saint Nick”:

“Now Nick”, said she, “I’m in a bind
Yet filled with hope my Jim I’ll find.
My wish is that I’ll git to him,
Although the chance is mighty slim.

But if you’ll let me find my beau,
In all that whirlin’ winter snow,
We’ll give what gold my Jim has found
To help the needy folks around.”

Well, Jill set out into the night
In all that howling wintry fright
In hopes Saint Nick would surely show
Where Jim was lost in all that snow.

She trudged and toiled for quite some time
Before she heard a sleigh bell’s chime,
When wind had lulled enough know
She’d heard that noise out in the snow.

“A bell,” She said, “A way out here?
Saint Nick’s sure sign my Jim is near!”
And she was right. Her Jim she found
By seeking out that wondrous sound.

No bell was found on Jim or pack.
His nose was froze, his toes were black,
Yet Jim was safe on Christmas day
So Jill gave all the gold away. . . .

No needy folks could then be found
In all the country there around.
And Jill, well she was mighty quick
To give her thanks to Old Saint Nick.

******************************

The seasons changed, the warmth came back
And Jim put on his mining pack.
He winked at Jill, and grabbed his kit.
“I’d best be getting after it.”

“And what is that,” said Jill to Jim,
“That gets you out on such a whim?”
“I marked a spot,” said Jim to Jill
“With nuggets thick up on that hill.”

Merry Christmas 2021, and all the best,

Lanny
 
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Lanny in AB

Lanny in AB

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Apr 2, 2003
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These stories that you posted truly paint a fond memory of times past ! The words are almost like watching the story on a full screen ! Thanks !!
Very kind of you to say so, a big thanks to you!

All the best,

Lanny
 
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Lanny in AB

Lanny in AB

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  • #209
Heavy Gold (More for those newer to the gold-chasing game)

One of the things that always amazes me, is just how heavy gold is. Now, people just starting out, they often fail to appreciate this fact. Many times, working with raw recruits, I’ll put them in a hot spot for gold, and after they clean the bedrock I've put them on, and then pan the dirt, they get very little gold.

Well, you should see their eyes pop when I go back to that same bedrock and clean it with a stiff brush, scrape it with some small hooks and scrapers, open a few crevices and pull up all of the enclosed material, take a narrow spoon to any little troughs, and then pan the relatively small amount of material that's accumulated in the pan. It's priceless to see the amazed looks on their faces.

I remember when my buddy was first getting serious about prospecting. He was in Montana on Grasshopper Creek (Bannack) and they were getting almost no gold. A very kind prospector came along and told them to go on a little hike with him. He took them up the canyon a bit, took a stiff brush and got down into every little crack and crevice up his little bedrock draw. My buddy and his wife couldn't believe how much gold was holding tight to that bedrock! They've respected that knowledge ever since. (Simply scraping the surface with a shovel or your hand is never enough.)

When I'm dredging, I'll often disturb flakes and pieces of gold. If they're down in a crevice, too often they won't come up to the nozzle of the dredge, and that gold will just sit down there--that's how heavy it is. You have to reach down there with something narrow and flip it up into the water column to retrieve it. Or, you have to get a narrow nozzle that will reach down right close to the gold. Or, you have to shoot a stream of high-pressure water down into the crevice and hope that it will force the gold up into the water column. (Sometimes, the gold just disappears into an unseen crack!)

Moreover, while disturbing gold, I’ll watch it shimmy tightly along the bedrock until it finds any crack, crevice, rock, or other irregularity, only to have it vanish (sometimes never to reappear)!

That's how heavy gold is--roughly twenty times as heavy as the water, and (if I recall correctly) almost ten times heavier than most other materials in the stream. So, it's going to get down as low as it can after it’s disturbed in the water. It's going to sink, and fast.

If you've located a piece of gold between two vertical sheets of bedrock (when detecting or sniping) and you loosen one of the sheets, the gold will instantly drop.

Always respect how heavy gold is and always take advantage of that knowledge to allow you to get more gold. (Often it will be the gold that others, that are less knowledgeable, have left behind.)

All the best as you’re out there chasing the gold,

Lanny
 

delnorter

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Oct 28, 2008
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Great information to the new prospector and a better reminder to the “seasoned” prospector Lanny. I’ll never forget a large flake of gold I dislodged in extremely clear water on the side bank of a deep stretch of river.

I was snorkeling about half way up the bedrock face of an approximately 8 foot deep run. Seeing the flake in a crevice between to sheets of shale, I was well aware of what might happen when I loosened one side but was unable to reach it otherwise.

I’ll never forget that flake, about the size and rough texture of a large cornflake, rapidly dishing back and forth through the clear water, reflecting the sun above, to never be seen again.

Thanks for the great experiences Lanny,
Mike
 
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Lanny in AB

Lanny in AB

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Great information to the new prospector and a better reminder to the “seasoned” prospector Lanny. I’ll never forget a large flake of gold I dislodged in extremely clear water on the side bank of a deep stretch of river.

I was snorkeling about half way up the bedrock face of an approximately 8 foot deep run. Seeing the flake in a crevice between to sheets of shale, I was well aware of what might happen when I loosened one side but was unable to reach it otherwise.

I’ll never forget that flake, about the size and rough texture of a large cornflake, rapidly dishing back and forth through the clear water, reflecting the sun above, to never be seen again.

Thanks for the great experiences Lanny,
Mike
Mike, as you are an experienced gold hunter, I really appreciate you feedback in kind words and the story to accompany them.

Nicely done, and all the best,

Lanny
 
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Lanny in AB

Lanny in AB

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  • #212
A desert gold-hunting misadventure

I've worked that dry desert dirt chasing gold in Arizona, and it taught me I much prefer using water! Yet, that desert gold sure is truly, beautiful stuff. And, that’s why I was out there looking for some.

While I was working a dry wash on the side of a hill, I found myself wrapped up in a frightening misadventure.

To begin, there were old dry-washer piles everywhere. So, being a likely place for gold, I picked a spot with bedrock outcroppings that looked more promising than the rest (I have to tell you at this point in my tale that I can’t stand spiders, of any size or kind.), and I started to dig.

As I prospected along the wash, I started to see these round holes located in the bank. Well, I'd seen some of them while I was detecting in flatter areas (and of course, those holes went straight down), and I'd spotted a tarantula crouching in one of them, the front appendages wiggling, those blood-thirsty eyes boring directly into the terror center of my brain! You get the picture—that was enough for me.

I quickly changed locations—with about the same speed a jacked-up sprinter on steroids does. Only, sprinters are far slower it appears, because I'm certain I broke several Olympic records as I raced through that unforgiving region of plant life where everything pokes, stings, or bites! (I'm thinking of a full Kevlar body suit the next time I have to run from a tarantula. It might save me from the nasty bite as well as stop me from picking spines from my hide for two days afterward.)

Despite my escape from near death, I went off digging in a new spot, a little wash among the grease-wood and creosote. I started working my way uphill, and when I saw those same, round holes I've mentioned earlier, I started to have freaky flashbacks. However, I overrode my brain's early warning system. (I'm quite famous for disabling my body’s hard-wired survival systems and that has allowed me to have some truly wild experiences that spice my otherwise bland life.)

Motivated by the fact that I'd traveled well over a thousand miles to get myself some desert gold, I wasn't going to let some hairy, fanged octo-ped drive me from my diggings, not on such a fine desert day.

So, I stared at those holes for a moment longer (there were three of them, about head height--ranged across the hill close to a foot apart, with the middle of the three just about dead center with my body), and I decided that I would go about loosening the dirt that covered the bedrock wall in that spot.

With my pulse back to a normal level, and my formerly panicked brain calmed to a benign state, I hefted the reassuring weight of my pick, and drove the pick into the ground.

Like a blast from a rocket-propelled-grenade, something came flying out of that center hole!! It flew at me so fast that I had no time to react. I was the perfect, paralyzed victim.

On a side note, if you've ever been in a car crash (as I have), you may have experienced this phenomenon: time and action slow to a crawl. Every minute detail is recorded by the brain which is somehow temporarily rewired to Star Trek warp speed factors. This allows your melon to record every little detail at hyper speed, thus generating a slow-motion recording mode. This lets the brain capture the entire event perfectly so that you can micro-analyze it in perpetuity.

But, I need to backtrack to the moment when the unknown terror shot forth from the hole. It was heading straight for my chest, and it had a leathery head with several colors. It was wagging from side to side. The tail was long and it was swaying back and forth, acting as a rudder, driving the horror relentlessly toward my paralyzed body.

I watched immobilized as it dropped below eye level, then caught the bizarre object again, just to the right of me, as it plowed into the desert dirt. Sensing this was no spider, my brain switched out of panic mode, and it returned to recording at normal speed.

This flying menace was only some kind of stinking, pea-brained lizard! Although this rotten reptile was launched from the underworld to give me a heart attack, quite obviously, the desert plot to frighten me had failed miserably.

For, I have no fear of lizards or snakes you see (Strange huh? I mean, the snakes may kill you, but the hideous tarantulas will only tease you a friendly bite that feels as if liquid fire is lancing through every cell and nerve ending of your entire body. So, no wonder snakes don't worry me. . . .), and because I don't fear reptiles, I was able to laugh.

The fact that laughter sounded much like a pack of deranged hyenas is irrelevant. It was a healing event for me, a wondrous catharsis. Who cares if the aforementioned laughter terrorized the nearby city of Phoenix and jammed every available 911 circuit with panicked callers.

On a reflective note, in a bold act demonstrating my supreme daring and courage, I abandoned that hill-side and headed off to a flat, wandering trail I'd spotted earlier in the day, one that leisurely led across a level mesa, about three miles distant. . . .


All the best,

Lanny
 

Tintaint

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Oct 25, 2021
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Long story and no one will believe me anyways. But got chased deep into the woods by a Bigfoot, where I had to camp out under a cliff face for three days until it finally left and allowed me to leave.
 
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Lanny in AB

Lanny in AB

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All he wanted was the package of "SLIM JIMS " you had in your pocket ! maybe you should have shared it with him and MAYBE he would show you where the gold was hidden !:icon_thumright:
Say, that sounds like a great plan, and maybe we should mount an expedition?

All the best,

Lanny
 
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Lanny in AB

Lanny in AB

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  • #216
Friable Rock Gold

Gold in the bedrock tip: When working in friable rock, bedrock that has lots of standing plates/sheets perpendicular to the bedrock, it has been my experience that the flake gold and pickers (and, sometimes nuggets) are easily trapped by these formations. (The gold drops as it moves over the little plates that shimmy and vibrate due to the stream action.)

The friable rock in my area has standing plates that vary from three to four inches in height, and the vast majority of the gold rests on top of, or in the top few inches of the formation, as the underlying bedrock is usually barren, because it’s largely solid, and lacks the proper cracks to trap the gold.

Digging deeper through the plates, the little river stones and coarser sand that travel with the gold will disappear. The remaining material is almost exclusively a sticky clay, and it is also what’s usually in any of the rare deeper cracks and crevices.

The fine-grained clay I’ve mentioned sifts deep down, but very rarely is it carrying any values. As well, that sticky clay is horrible stuff to wash, and it does not want to go back into suspension. So, it takes a long time to wash (if it ever provides a return).

However, there are exceptions to this (as far as deeper cracks or crevices go). For instance, when a deep crack or crevice beneath a cap of friable rock is loaded with sticky clay, it pays to see if the clay is peppered with lots of little river stones and coarser sand. If you find any of the aforementioned material, that is the crevice material to get excited about, and it’s worth the time to work the clay.

Generally, what this means is that sometime in the dim past, the crack was opened wide enough to allow entry of the coarser material, and naturally, this would allow gold to drop as well. (To elaborate on such cracks, at some time after the gold dropped, the crack snapped shut again, perhaps due to a large boulder hammering downstream along the bedrock during a flood.)

In crevices, like the ones I recommend to work, I have found some beautiful flake gold, pickers and even nuggets. Nevertheless, I don’t find them that often on great gold streams with the prime conditions I've described. (To avoid confusion, I'm not talking about a generic river crevice that is jammed with rocks at its surface, and is summarily packed with progressively smaller stones as the crack narrows to depth at its bottom. I'm speaking of a now closed crevice that resides beneath the movable cap of friable rock--a crevice that is located much deeper down in the bedrock substructure, far below that cap of friable rock.)

I hope this helps someone find some nice, sassy gold--either in the little perpendicular plates and sheets on the surface, or if you're lucky enough, in a tightly closed crevice beneath the cap that once allowed the gold to enter. (I also hope that it will help you save some time by not working barren clay deposits.)

*** I just remembered something: always carefully examine the surface of any gooey, clay-jammed crevice material. Sometimes if there's little stones and coarse sand jammed in that surface material, there's a good chance there's gold as well. Take the material down to where there's no more granular particles stuck in it (you can tell by squishing the material between your fingers), and go through the hassle of liquifying it (it's time intensive, but stick with it). Next, pan it very carefully. Also, be sure to wash everything off in clear water so you know what you're looking at before you discard anything! Clay is a master of disguise, and if there's enough of it around a particle of gold, the gold's specific gravity won't allow it to behave like gold at all. On a related note, clay will also form a ball around gold (as it encases the gold) and let it roll right over your pan's riffles! So, to be safe, squish and smear everything around under the water in your pan until it's well liquified. ***

All the best, and good luck,

Lanny
 
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Lanny in AB

Lanny in AB

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Ten Stream Mystery Cabin

I was checking my prospecting notes from 1997, and I came across a story I’d almost forgotten about.

In 1997, my prospecting buddy and I traveled to a goldfield that took us some sixteen hours to reach. (Most of the route was on paved roads, but the last six hours were on gravelled, active logging roads. The roads were not topped with crushed gravel, but with what’s classified as pit-run gravel. That type of gravel is simply unsorted rock that comes straight out of the gravel pit, minus the huge rocks, but it’s the rough rock Mother Nature dropped after ice-age glaciers melted. Not a smooth riding surface for normal vehicles!)

To get to the goldfield, we traveled in a four-wheel-drive diesel, and we towed a large flat-deck trailer with a small backhoe and wash-plant. As well, it carried a quad, and all of our camping gear, grub, and miscellaneous mining equipment. In addition, it freighted our steel-framed wall-tent and a cozy wood-burning stove.

We had packed all of that equipment to make the trip after receiving an invitation to do some testing on promising placer ground, ground located in a remote area.

We’d been into the territory the previous summer and had found some nice, coarse nuggets with metal detectors, and we’d caught a nice catch of flake gold and pickers with sluice and pan. As well, we’d earned the trust of the local miners and claim owners, and had been invited back to bring in the bigger equipment.

Once we arrived, we set off on a series of prospecting day-trips to try and find some promising additional ground to justify bringing in the extra equipment.

We explored one interesting area where we’d seen signs of previous testing done in the 1800’s. There were shallow test pits liberally scattered across an ancient, heavily glaciated low-lying area, the uneven ground punctuated by numerous little streams and small lakes.

We’d found the previous year that the old-timers tested glaciated areas such as this because the numerous small streams concentrated any gold the glaciers carried. Of course, the unknown factor was which glacial runs were carrying gold. So, the detective work for gold was carried out over the years with pick and shovel, which left the numerous test pits scattered across the valley floor.

At this location, the valley terrain was populated with pine, fur, and aspen groves. Large yellow, black, and orange butterflies fed among legions of mountain daisies and stands of fireweed. Humming birds, multi-colored with iridescent hues, buzzed in and out hunting nectar. In addition, Jet-black ravens shadowed us as we worked toward our chosen spot.

Suddenly, in a stand of thick timber, we found a massive ditch work—the remains of a huge hydraulic operation from the 1930’s. After crossing the ditch and its steep bank, we hit a foot of standing, swampy water, a spread-out area fed by multiple small streams. We waded through, and then the ground gradually sloped upward. My partner went to prospect around a small lake, and I followed one of the larger streams to see where it led.

(Finding some workings and trash along the way showed the area was prospected in the 1800’s and again in the 1930’s. However, no buildings remained, nor were there any recent signs of human workings. And, we never saw anyone else in the area while we explored over several days.)

As I continued to work my way upstream, the stream split, and continued to split multiple times. I found myself in a unique geological area, completely surrounded by small, gravelly streams. There were ten of them in all! I stopped and panned them, but I only got infrequent flake gold—nothing coarse.

The interesting part about this area was that there was a large mounded hummock that split the paths of those little streams, and it was timbered with trees and brush.

This island-like rise of ground caught my attention, I forded the streams, bush-whacked through some pine and willow heading up to the rise to see if I could find some good panning ground.

But, after fighting through the brush, I was stunned by what I saw. Hidden within the brush, and completely invisible from the lower level of the streams, was a prospector’s cabin! To convince myself it couldn’t be seen from lower down, I went back to stream level, and carefully looked back from many viewpoints, and that cabin could not be seen. The only way to find it was to stumble upon it, for it was guarded by streams on every side.

Whoever chose the site did so carefully. It showed a level of stealth I have neither seen before nor since. I’ve stumbled across other old cabins, with some of them cleverly hidden as well, but none with such a specialized craft for secrecy.

The roof was collapsed, and the interior held the remains of an old wood-burning stove, rusted bedsprings, some shelves along the log walls, one small window, a caved in cache pit below the floor, a very solid door frame, and a porcupined assortment of protruding square and round nails sprung from the log walls, indicating living quarters in the 1800’s and then again in the 1930’s.

Outside, there was a large overgrown garbage pile with old lead-sealed tins, broken hand-blown glass, as well as more modern glass. There were old enamelware pieces; tobacco, evaporated milk, ham, and fish tins; broken crockery; remnants of rusted pots and pans; as well as corroded kerosene and oil tins. Due to the size of the garbage pile, the mystery inhabitant(s) had spent considerable time at their hidden site.

I spent about six more hours prospecting the immediate area, but it was a confusing web of small streams, little lakes, beaver dams, and swampy ground. Wherever the phantom prospector’s diggings were, I couldn’t find them in the time I had available.

We abandoned the area and then set up the equipment in a promising area closer to our base-camp. We recovered some nice coarse placer gold with a ton of character.

However, that mystery cabin still puzzles me, and perhaps I’ll get back one day to solve that fascinating northern riddle.

All the best,

Lanny
 
OP
Lanny in AB

Lanny in AB

Gold Member
Apr 2, 2003
5,582
6,151
Alberta
Detector(s) used
Various Minelabs(5000, 2100, X-Terra 705, Equinox 800, Gold Monster), Falcon MD20, Tesoro Sand Shark, Gold Bug Pro, Makro Gold Racer.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
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  • #218
No nuggets in smooth bedrock?

Most of the time, smooth bedrock doesn't hold gold, but I have run across some spectacular nugget finds in smooth bedrock. Even if the surface has been pounded smooth or weathered flat, it doesn't mean that there weren't cracks in the bedrock before those massive re-shaping and smoothing events occurred. So, when I'm in gold country, I always check smooth bedrock with my detector as well, and I have been rewarded, from time to time, with some incredible results because the worn, smooth sheets are often overlooked, with most nugget shooters giving them a pass.

What new shooters don't realize is that any bedrock in gold country has an excellent chance of holding gold. It's not as likely as rough bedrock for a trap; but, due to untold years of change and weathering, any bedrock in placer areas offers a chance I don't pass up, as the rougher bedrock has usually been hammered to death.

All the best,

Lanny
 
OP
Lanny in AB

Lanny in AB

Gold Member
Apr 2, 2003
5,582
6,151
Alberta
Detector(s) used
Various Minelabs(5000, 2100, X-Terra 705, Equinox 800, Gold Monster), Falcon MD20, Tesoro Sand Shark, Gold Bug Pro, Makro Gold Racer.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
  • Thread Starter
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  • #219
Suction Eddy Gold, Part I

I prospected a river quite a while back. It was far to the north, down in a steep canyon lined with lots of alders, pine, and fir. Rugged slopes led down to the stream, and I was trying to find a spot where I could detect or pan for some of the nice coarse gold the area was known for.

I took a wrong step and got smacked in the face by an alder while trying to get down to what was clearly an active suction eddy during Spring Flood.

The eddy was straight down the mountain slope from where an old placer tunnel went in, about a hundred feet up slope. The mine (called a “drift” mine by the locals) went into the mountain on a bedrock hump, about seventy feet above the river. The Oldtimers had seen the hump and drifted toward it along the up-sloping bedrock that rose from the river, hitting the hump then driving underneath about fifty feet of boulder clay (almost exclusively clay, yet sprinkled with boulders and lesser rock dumped from the long gone Ice Age glaciers). [The mine entrance is still there, but the tunnel is caved in.]

Some modern miners had come in with big equipment and made a road around that bedrock point on the hill, cutting into the bedrock as they widened the road, while slicing across the drift mine entrance.

Now, what a dummy I was--I didn't detect that scraped off bedrock hump where the drift mine had gone in! Instead, I went over to the entrance, and hauled several heavy buckets of material down to the river to pan.

What a miserable time I had getting those buckets down to the river, skidding down that 30 to 40-degree slope covered in broken bedrock and loose cobbles. Fun? Not as much fun as a double root canal, but just about. Still, I was way over the legal-limit for fun.

Every bucket held gold, but only flakes. And, as I was chasing coarse gold, after lugging three five-gallon buckets of clay goo from the mine entrance to the river, I'd had enough fun.

But, since the eddy I’d picked to prospect was exactly below that bedrock hump, I dropped into the spot, a truck-box sized hole high water had cut into the river bank. It was littered with bread-loaf sized cobbles.

I was in my own little enclave down there, and I couldn't be seen from the equipment-trail above, nor could I be seen from up or down the river on my side of the stream.

I had packed down my old VLF detector and a shovel with me. I fired up the detector and scanned the cobbled section. I immediately got a loud signal.

I chucked a load of bread-loaf cobbles into the river and scanned again. The target was still there. Moving the underlying loose stuff, I exposed a nice square nail. What the . . .? That wasn't what I wanted, but square nails were everywhere on that bank!

Well, being the dimwit that I was, I never made the connection this was a good sign (heavies dropping out during flood stage). So, I scanned more bank, got more signals, then gave up detecting because I KNEW every signal was a square nail. (Dumb yes, but I was quite a rookie back then.)

I cleared the rest of the loose stuff from under the cobbles and chucked the stream-run back into a hole (eight-foot deep) in the river. That hole lay downstream from a series of bedrock drops, it being the only calm water in a long stretch. This clue should also have lit up my gold-getting brain, but my rookie mind was a steel trap, and once shut, no helpful gold logic was getting in.

What I found after clearing the overburden was friable rock standing over a layer of soft decomposing bedrock. So, I scraped the shingle-like pieces off and panned it all out. Immediately I had coarse gold in my pan! What the . . .? My rookie brain began to make connections.

All along that eight-foot section of bedrock, there was fantastic, coarse and sassy gold!

Sitting down, I looked at that river eddy excavation. The bedrock, where the eddy had dumped the heavies, rose up into the bank. At that moment, my brain finally made another connection. (Part II to follow)

All the best,

Lanny
 
OP
Lanny in AB

Lanny in AB

Gold Member
Apr 2, 2003
5,582
6,151
Alberta
Detector(s) used
Various Minelabs(5000, 2100, X-Terra 705, Equinox 800, Gold Monster), Falcon MD20, Tesoro Sand Shark, Gold Bug Pro, Makro Gold Racer.
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #220
Suction Eddy Gold, Part II

My brain at last connected that directly above me was the bedrock hump, and here was steeply rising bedrock trending in the same direction. Talk about a cross-wired brain (and one snapped shut, remember?)!

In hindsight, the eddy exposed a shelf that must have connected to the hump. Of course, there were tons and tons of overburden between me, the rest of that rising bedrock, and the hump. Anyway, my brain at last tuned in, and I scraped the exposed bedrock and sluiced the remaining material. (I had an aluminum river sluice in my vehicle up on the cat-trail. Freighting it down to the river, I had a near-death experience from the header I took while taking what I thought was a short-cut; however, I made it to the river in one piece.)

I started sluicing. The first shovel of dirt produced an instant nugget. It was around two grams, and L-shaped. It didn't even get into the first riffle. It just hit and sat in the header, sparking golden in the summer sunlight.

I sluiced the remaining dirt and recovered chunky gold throughout. It was getting dark, and I didn’t want to leave, but I’ve no love for mountain lions or grizzlies. So, I headed back to the safe, comfortable log cabin I called home in that northern land. (On a side note, I need to mention it had been raining for three days straight prior to my first find on the river. This helps explain upcoming details.)

When I floundered my way downslope through the much safer face-slapping route the next morning, I saw the river had dropped about four inches. Seeing a fresh, soft bedrock edge exposed by the lower waterline, I was suddenly stunned. There, winking in the morning sun, was a nugget! (A little sunbather taking advantage of the new beach so to speak.) My mind, now wide-open to prospecting lore, started calculating what had likely happened at the site.

I reflected that there was consistent gold right up to the boulder clay on the bank where the suction eddy had torn into it. Moreover, that gold was being drug down into the pool. So, I scraped with my shovel out into the pool as far as I could I could, but the bedrock dropped off quite sharply into that eight-feet of water. As well, for any that have scraped off river run, while fighting hydraulic pressure, it's tough-sledding indeed.

In spite of the challenge, the coarse gold that came up from the submerged river-run was spectacular! By the time I'd retrieved all the material I could, I had a quarter-ounce of nice rounded coarse gold, and several nice sassy nuggets to boot.

So, what’s the analysis of that suction eddy gold deposit? Well, those early square nail finds were everywhere because the suction eddy had plucked them from flood-level waters, and the bedrock held them fast. Cleary, the gold was yanked from the flood water along with the nails as well. But, the haunting reality to me now is that a whack of those “square nail signals” were feisty nuggets! This leaves me with the uncomfortable reality that what the heck did I throw into that eight-foot-deep pool as I cleared the overburden?

What the heck indeed. . . .

All the best,

Lanny in AB


[Author's note: I heard the next year that some dredgers went into that pool. One of the mine-workers had seen my truck parked on the trail, had walked down to the river to investigate after I'd left, had seen the suction eddy as well as my diggings, and he sent his buddies the next year to dredge the spot. Well, they had a field day in that hole and took out ounces of coarse gold! As I reflect now, It's clear to me that the suction eddy had cut into an old channel that trended up the river bank to that old drift mine. (Likely how the Oldtimers had found the higher deposit of gold in the 1800’s.) This gold tale is just one of my missed opportunities that still haunt me.]
 

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