Tag Archives: placer mining

looking for the source

In the last post I explained that while our new spot ended up having spectacular gold, but we soon learned that we were only getting material brought down by small springs over the top of a bedrock cliff.

For the last few weeks we’ve been working on finding the source of that gold on the ridge up above.  In the National Forest, we’re not allowed to simply blaze new trails whenever we feel like it.  We have to work our way through the forest, with as little damage as possible, dig test holes, then go back and apply for permits to build more trail.  Sounds simple enough? Its not. The forest is thick here, so thick you cant even really see what lies ahead of you until you get right up on it.

But we have been trying.  We spent part of a day stuck on a tree where the excavator slid sideways and pinned the tree between the track and blade.  We couldn’t cut the tree, we had to winch the excavator off by hand.

With the wash plant sitting idle, we have been digging holes, getting bucket samples, fill the hole in, and rinse-repeat.  Tedious and frustrating.  The crew’s morale has been low.  We even spent part of a day sneaking into our old dig site and running some of that dirt, just so we could remember what gold looks like.



I’m sure you are wondering, if there is still gold there, why are we spending time digging test holes?  It’s because we are almost out of paydirt in that spot, we need to identify a new dig site if we are going to continue mining, and we only have one summer to do it.  We can’t do both.

What makes matters worse is just digging a bucket sample isn’t enough.  We’re digging into ancient river benches, just because you dig one hole, doesn’t mean you’ve found the correct spot in the river channel.  You could be digging in the wrong side of a curve, or where the water was too fast to collect gold, or miss the channel completely by a few feet.

We’ve found a spot that we do have access to where the gravel looks good.  Its 100 feet away from the hot spot identified on the magnetometer survey, but we thought it was worth running a few yards through the trommel to see what happens when we get into the bench.  The returns so far have been disappointing, but seem to be improving as we get further into the formation.  Summer is waning, the kid will have to go back to school soon, but all we can do is keep trying.  Gold is where you find it after all.

Possible glory hole?

Been a while, have a lot of stuff to catch our readers up on.

Most importantly, the formation had presented us with a gift. If you look at the main picture you can see the uniform horizontal layers, but then, as you look lower, you can see they tilt at an angle. I know what you’re thinking, there must bee a depression in the bedrock there! I bet the gold settled there when the river used to run here! Sure enough, the bedrock is getting deeper, and the gold is getting better – chunkier and more of it. Too bad we can’t run any more of it because we broke the little tractor we use for loading the trommel. 🙁

Now we are taking a trip to town to get it fixed and that gold is just sitting there, singing to us.

Here’s what it looked like for the stuff we got to run before the tractor died.


Half Axed

I swear if we didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all.  The bar that we set the tension for the belts on the trommel decided to fall off.   We managed to wedge it with an axe head of all things until we get the welder.

Next the pull string on our pump decided to break, we had a spare so no big deal.  Had a good couple of runs, and then the backhoe decided not to start anymore.  Today multiple trips to town are called for.

We didn’t get a lot of gold, every time we have to leave for a while we knock the high wall on our dig spot in so no passers by get hurt while we are not here.  We are going through a lot of overburden.  If we get the backlittle gold 1 hoe going, we should get better results.

photo 2