Dave Mack

“Crevicing, both above and below the water, and vack-mining, especially in and around the moss along the edges of an active waterway, are one of the most popular methods our members use to recover gold.”

 
video subscription graphic
This story first appeared in Gold & Treasure Hunter Magazine May/Jun, 1992 on Page 36.
This issue is still available! Click here.

By Dave McCracken

Experienced gold miner lays out fundamentals of running a successful surface prospecting program.

 

A “sluice box” is a trough-like gold recovering device which has a series of obstructions or baffles, called “riffles”, along its bottom edge. While a steady stream of water is directed to pass through, streambed material is shoveled into the upper-end of the box. The flow of water washes the streambed materials through the sluice and over the riffles, which trap the gold out of the material.

The reason a sluice box works is that gold is extremely heavy and will work its way quickly down to the bottom of the materials being washed through the box. The gold then drops behind the riffles and remains there, because there is not enough water force behind the riffles to sweep the gold out into the main force of water again.

A sluicing operation, when set up properly, can process the gold out of streambed material about as fast as it can be shoveled into the box. This can be many times more material than a panning operation can handle, yet with similar efficiency in gold recovery. How much material can be shoveled into a sluice box greatly depends upon the consistency and hardness of the material within the streambed itself, and how easily it can be broken away.

A sluice requires a steady flow of water through the box to operate at its best efficiency. Most often, the box is placed in a stream or creek where water is moving rather swiftly, with the sluice being placed in such a way that a stream of water is directed through the box.

In locations where water is available, but is not moving fast enough to be channeled through the box for sluicing purposes, the water can be pumped or siphoned to the box with excellent results (covered later). How much water is available, and whether or not it will need to be transported to your sluice box, is something that needs to be considered during the planning stages of a sluicing operation.

Because so much more material can be processed with a sluice, than with a gold pan, streambed materials which contain far less gold values can be mined while recovering just as much or more gold. Therefore, if the streambed material had to pay a certain amount in gold values in to be worked with a gold pan to your satisfaction, gravel containing only a fraction of as many values can be worked with the same result using a sluice box. This is an important factor to grasp; because it means the modern sluice box opens up a tremendous amount of ground that can be profitably mined by an individual.

Motorized sluicing (also often called “high-banking”) is an activity similar to sluicing, except that sluicing is almost always accomplished with the water-flow from the creek or river keeping gravel moving through and over the riffles. As demonstrated in the following video sequence, a motorized sluice (also called a “hydraulic concentrator”) is usually set up with a water pump that supplies water for the sluice box:

Motorized sluices are usually equipped with a recovery system that is set up with adjustable-length legs. This allows the box to be adjusted from side to side and front to back on uneven ground. This allows the water flow to be created for optimum gold recovery. Most motorized sluices available on today’s market also include a screening device over the top of the feed-section of the sluice box. Screening the larger-sized rocks out of material to be sluiced is one of the primary methods for improving fine (small) gold recovery. Any time you can screen larger rocks out, you can slow the water down through the sluice, which will allow even smaller particles of gold to become trapped inside the riffles.

In normal sluicing, the operators must find a location alongside of a creek or river where the water is flowing just right, at the proper depth, to set up the sluice so the proper amount of water can be directed through. Once the sluice is set up, gold-bearing material must be carried to the sluice, screened separately, and carefully fed through the sluice box.

With a motorized sluice, all you need is a supply of water within several hundred feet of where you want to dig. The screen and sluice assembly can be set up directly at the work site so that pay-dirt can be shoveled directly onto the screening section. The pump/engine assembly will pump water from the water source, through a pressure hose, to the sluice.

Another advantage to the motorized sluice is that in some areas today, it is not legal to wash silt directly from the bank into an active waterway. With a motorized sluice set up some distance from the stream or river, you have an opportunity to utilize natural contours up on the land to slow the water down enough to allow the sediments to settle before (if ever) the water re-enters the creek or river.

SAMPLING

Just like in any other type of gold mining activity, the key to doing well is in digging sample holes to first find a high-grade gold deposit.

Placer Geology

In many places, there is more gold up on the banks than you will find in the river. This can sometimes be true on the Klamath River in northern California. Actually, it is not only that there is more gold on the banks than in the river. The gold on the banks can sometimes just be easier to get at for a small operation.

What happened along the Klamath River, and in many other areas, is not difficult to understand. The old-timers started mining down in the creek or river, and moved uphill, allowing gravity to carry the water and tailings back down towards the creek or river. As the old-timers worked further up into the banks, often the gravel became deeper and more difficult to remove by conventional hand methods. In time, the old-timers developed hydraulic mining. This is where they directed large volumes of water from nearby (or sometimes distant) creeks under great pressure through monitors (huge pressure nozzles). The high-pressure water was used to wash large volumes of gravel through large sluice boxes placed on the banks of the creeks and rivers. As the sluicing operations cut further up into the banks, the sluice boxes were moved forward, which left tailings deposited on the banks.

It is estimated that as much as 50-percent of the gold washed right through the sluice boxes in hydraulic operations because of the large volume and velocity of water which such operations used. Hydraulic operations did not lose gold in the same amounts all of the time. Much of the gravel that these operations processed contained little or no gold. The concentrations of gold were found along bedrock or at the bottom of lower strata flood layers. So, valueless top-gravels were processed at volume speed, and they would try to slow down when getting into pay-dirt materials. Sometimes, however, they would cut into pay-dirt materials at volume speed–before having a chance to slow down. This is where large volumes of gold would wash directly into the tailing piles.

Since the time of large-scale hydraulic mining, there have been several occasions of extreme high water. The 1964 flood in the western United States is one example. Floods of such magnitude, all throughout gold country, re-deposited old hydraulic tailings piles into newly-formed streambeds up on the banks and within the active waterways. Places where gold was lost from hydraulic operations formed into new pay-streaks–often only inches or a few feet from the surface. This is true all up and down the banks of the Klamath River–and probably many other rivers as well–which has created a wonderful and exciting opportunity for modern small-scale gold miners.

Contrary to popular belief, many pay-streaks today are not found down along the bedrock. In fact, many of the pay-streaks surface miners are finding along the Klamath River are situated in a flood layer (1964 flood) within two feet of the surface. This flood layer is often resting directly on top of undisturbed hydraulic tailings.

We are also finding similar pay-streak deposits inside the active river with the use of suction dredges.

Finding pay-streaks with a surface digging project is usually done by setting up the sluice in several different locations, and giving each sample a large enough test hole to obtain an idea of how much gold the gravel is carrying. Sample holes should be taken to bedrock if possible. However, if the gravel goes deep, you have to avoid getting in too far “over your head.” At the point where you start digging deeper than 3 or 4 feet with a pick and shovel, any pay-streak is going to have to be exceptionally rich to make the effort worthwhile. Richer deposits are more scarce; and therefore more difficult to find. So it is important to stay within effective digging/sampling range, and not get yourself into a full-scale production operation before you have found a high-grade gold deposit.

Sometimes you can learn valuable information before you start sampling. If other miners in the immediate area are finding gold deposits along a specific flood layer, you should be sampling for gold along the same flood layer while digging around in the nearby vicinity. Gathering information such as this is one of the many benefits of belonging to an active mining club or association. Active mining organizations will include others who are actively pursuing the same type of mining activity that you are engaged in.

While sampling with a pick and shovel, it is very seldom that you will actually see gold in the gravel as it is being uncovered. Usually, you do

not see the gold until it is time to clean-upthe sluice box after the sample is complete.

If you finish a sample hole and end up with a good showing of gold, the next step is to find out exactly where the gold came from. In other words, did it come off the bedrock, or did it come from a particular layer in the streambed? You must know where the gold is coming from to evaluate the value of the pay-streak. For example, digging two feet into a paying flood layer requires much less time and effort than digging four feet and having to clean rough bedrock. If you do not know for certain where the gold is coming from, and you assume it is coming from the bedrock underneath four feet of hard-packed streambed, you might decide it is not rich enough to work and walk away from a very rich deposit located at the two-foot flood layer

At the same time, if you are able to reach bedrock, you always want to get a good sample there by thoroughly cleaning the surface and any irregularities there. Sometimes that is where the richest deposits are found.

Pinpointing the source of gold is reasonably easy once the sample hole has been opened up. It is likely that the gold will be concentrated either along the bedrock, along the bottom of a flood layer, or at both locations. Sometimes, there is more than one flood layer that carries gold. You can run small production samples of each stratum separately to see which is paying. Or, sometimes you can simply take pan-samples in the different contact zones between the layers

Some pick & shovel miners are using metal detectors in their prospecting activities. Some of the new gold metal detectors will sound out on pieces of gold as small as the head of a pin! But in gravel deposits, metal detectors can also be used quite well to locate the concentrations of magnetic black sand. Black sand tends to concentrate in pay-streaks, just like gold. Therefore, locations sounding out heavy concentrations of magnetic sand on metal detectors are excellent places to follow up with pick & shovel sampling.

One question commonly asked about sluicing procedure is the proper slope-setting for a sluice box. A sluice box generally requires about an inch drop per each linear foot of sluice. This is just a guideline. Basically, you need enough water velocity to keep the material active in the sluice behind the riffles, but not so much that you are washing most of the material out from behind the riffles. I like to get enough water flow to keep the larger material moving through and out of the box. If I see lots of rocks building up in the sluice, I know I do not have enough water velocity. An occasional rock needing to be helped along is alright in a sluice (although maybe not a dredge sluice!). In surface sluicing (non-dredging), I would rather toss out an occasional rock and have the peace of mind that I am also achieving maximum possible fine gold recovery.

A common practice in sluicing is to also to set up a second sluice behind the primary sluice. The plastic Le’Trap sluice works exceptionally well for this because it recovers fine gold so well, and for its ease in cleanup. The idea is to have a safety check on your primary recovery system to make sure it is working properly.

And if all else fails, you can always do some pan-testing in your tailings to see if your sluice might be losing any gold.

One mistake that beginners often make is in thinking that the recovery system is at fault because they are not recovering very much gold. Most often, however, it is not the recovery system. It is the lack of a good-paying pay-streak! The answer to this is to hustle around with more sampling. Ask around to see what and where it is working well for others in the area. Use their operations as a model.

Flood layer pay-streaks are often easier than bedrock pay-streaks to clean up with pick & shovel surface mining operations. There are several reasons for this. One is that a flood layer pay-streak is closer to the surface. This means less gravel to shovel to reach the gold. Another reason is that it takes more effort to clean the gold off of a bedrock surface when you are not using a dredge. You can only do so much with a shovel. After that, you must resort to a whisk broom and/or a motorized vacuum cleaner. This is why portable dry land dredges are also becoming so popular. They give you the ability to clean bedrock surfaces and cracks with minimum effort. If the gold is coming off bedrock, you must invest the extra effort to clean it off well. Otherwise, you stand the chance of leaving an important portion of the gold behind as you mine forward on the pay-streak.

Many pick & shovel miners today also are equipped with an optional suction attachment. To use it, the pressure hose from the water pump is attached to a suction nozzle that directs the water and material through a suction hose into the sluice. So after an initial hole is dug up out of the water, the hole can be filled with water and material can be sucked into the sluice box. The recovery system can be positioned so that the water discharge can run back into the hole– keeping the hole from running out of water.

So you can dig a hole up on the land, and then begin a suction mining operation outside of the active waterway. This is great!

In California, dredging permits are only required when dredges are operated inside of the active waterway. Therefore, my personal understanding is that suction miners up on the land are not required to have a dredging permit as long as they are not dredging inside the active waterway.

Some surface miners also sample for the gold-path up on the bank by pan sampling the moss. Sometimes, how well the moss is producing gold at the surface can also be an indication of how well the gravel is paying underneath.

When moss, roots, clay and other types of materials are producing good quantities of gold, it is always a good idea to break up the material as much as you can before running it through a sluice box. This is usually done by pulling it apart over the top of a classification screen, or breaking it up inside a bucket of water before running it through the sluice. This slows down production, so the additional work must be rewarded by the recovery of more gold.

Once you find a pay-streak in pick & shovel mining, you want to give some thought to how you are going to develop the deposit with a minimum of wasted effort. For example, you will have to pile the cobbles (rocks too large to pass through your recovery system) and tailings somewhere. Preferably, cobbles and tailings would not be placed upon some other section of the pay-streak. Otherwise they might need to be moved twice, or you might be forced to leave behind high-grade areas that have been further buried. So it is worth some extra sampling to get an idea of the pay-streak’s boundaries. Then you can deposit the tailings material in a location where you will not need to move them again.

Placing tailings is, and always has been, one of the most important aspects of a mining operation–of any size. Yet, it is one of the most neglected aspects of mining by a substantial portion of small-scale miners. In fact, we have a standing principle, true as it may be, along the Klamath River: “Dowsing works: just look where a successful pick & shovel miner or dredger has been throwing his or her cobbles. It is almost guaranteed there will be excellent gold underneath!”

This usually comes back to a simple case of gold fever. The miner starts getting a good showing of gold, gets excited, and never slows down to define the boundaries of the deposit. This almost guarantees an important portion of the deposit will end up underneath cobbles.

Pay-streaks up out of the water are often different from those found in the river or creek. What I mean by this is that they do not always follow the same gold path. When you find a pay-streak in the river, you can usually line it up with the next river bend and make a pretty fair guess where the next several pay-streaks are likely to be. This is because river pay-streaks usually form from gold that has washed down the river along its own gold path during major flood storms.

Pay-streaks outside of the river often were formed from gold out of tailings from old hydraulic mining operations. So you can find a small pay-streak up on the bank, follow it until it plays out, and then not find any sign of it further upstream. This is because the source of the gold deposit was not from a point further up river. Then you can find another pay-streak on another path altogether. In other words, pay-streaks up on the bank might not follow a specific single gold path, as they usually do in the river.

Pick & shovel mining is a lot of fun – when you are finding gold. A healthy portion of our miners along the Klamath River mine out of the water. The reason for this is that it gives them an opportunity to find pay-streaks without having to commit to an underwater dredging operation.

We manage Group Mining Projects just about every other weekend during the spring, summer and fall months in Happy Camp You can find this year’s schedule HERE. You have my personal invitation to come out and get some firsthand experience. We always send participants home with a sample of gold that they help recover–that is, those who go back home. Many join up with us. Watch out–the biggest challenge in gold mining is not in finding the gold; it is getting over the “fever” after you have found it!

 

 

 
 

By Dave McCracken

Using the Le Trap Sluice to make your
final clean-up go faster.

Dave Mack

Because we have so many innovative, active gold dredgers and small-scale miners on the Klamath River, I don’t recall exactly who came up with the original idea of using a Le’ Trap sluice for final cleanup. When I first heard of it, I had reservations. We have been improving the fine gold recovery on our dredges for years. I was afraid the plastic sluice in final cleanup would lose a large percentage of the extra-fine gold that we are now recovering in our dredges. However, upon close inspection, this proved not to be the case.

One of the most time consuming jobs on any serious gold dredging activity is the final cleanup procedure of separating your gold from all of the other heavy black sands and materials which are also recovered by the dredge. My personal operation is utilizing two eight-inch dredges. We are working in an extensive fine-gold paystreak, which requires us to cleanup about two-thirds of our recovery systems at the end of each day. This amounts to about three five-gallon buckets of concentrates to process. In the past, we have utilized spiral wheels and just about every other kind of cleanup device available to process our final concentrates down to our final gold product. Always, with any of these devises, we succeeded in reducing the amount of concentrates down to about a handful, which we would then process with mercury amalgamation.

During the last several years, we have been using a professional shaker table to work our concentrates down. We found that the shaker table was faster than spiral wheels and the other devises we had tried. Even so, with three five-gallon buckets to process, we were spending several hours each day just running our concentrates across the table. Once the concentrates are worked down to a handful-sized amount, the final amalgamation process only takes about a half hour. In other words, the most time consuming job had been to work the concentrates down to just a small amount.

Shortly after we heard that the Le’ Trap sluice was being successfully used, there were other dredgers on the Klamath, dredgers who knew what they were talking about, starting to rave about how fast and effective the sluice was for final cleanup. Lots of people were starting to use the new system. Consequently, we decided to give it a try. We were quite impressed with the results!

Basically, the system is quite easy, and also quite inexpensive. The Le’ Trap sluice retails at about $90. When used in conjunction with a dredge, no further equipment or pumps, etc., are needed, except a garden trowel of some kind to shovel concentrates with.

We start our dredge and run it just over idle speed to get a small amount of water moving through the primary dredge sluicebox. Water flow through the Le’ Trap sluice can be adjusted by engine speed, or by placing any flat objects under the tail end of the sluice. If you do not have enough water flow, you will notice the black sand does not move through the sluice with any regularity. Rather, it tends to pack up and bury the riffles. In this case, you will notice your gold sitting on top of the black sand, rather than inside the riffles.

If you have too much water flow, you will notice that the black sand flies through the box, with little chance to make contact with the riffles. There is plenty of margin for error. Ideally, with the proper water flow, as you feed concentrates into the sluice with a garden trowel, you will watch the black sands work their way down the box in an orderly procession. The flat, smooth section of the box ahead of the riffles allows the pieces of gold to trail along just behind the black sands. And the riffles stay somewhat clean and open. You can watch the flakes of gold wash down and drop into them.

When done properly, you will find 90% of your gold trapped behind the first four or five riffles. A few pieces, just a few, will work their way further down. But, almost none make it all the way out of the Le’ Trap sluice. We were working with several ounces of very fine gold per day; and to test the system, several times we brought all of the tailings home to see what we had lost from the Le’ Trap Sluice. It was never more than a half of one percent of our total gold recovery.

And, really, we didn’t even lose that gold, because it simply ran back into our dredge recovery system.

The Le’ Trap sluice is a one-piece molded unit which has a unique set of very efficient short riffles which seem to suck the gold right out of the water’s current. Cleanup of the sluice is simply a matter of tilting it up and dumping it into a tub or gold pan. The final product ends up not being much more than a handful of gold and your heaviest concentrates. Needless to say, this is much easier to deal with, rather than having to lug several heavy buckets of concentrates up the hill to our vehicles!

The main ingredient that we saved with this new cleanup system is time. We were able to feed the Le’ Trap sluice about twice as fast as our commercial shaker table. And, we only needed to screen the concentrates down through a quarter-inch screen using the Le’ Trap sluice, rather than through a quarter-inch mesh screen, then an eighth-inch screen, and then a 20 mesh screen to use the shaker table. This saved a lot of time in itself.

Plus, the system was so simple to use, we purchased a second sluice and used one on each dredge to cut our cleanup time in half again!

Since it only takes one person to feed the Le’ Trap sluice, we would put everyone else to work with end-of-the-day organizational activities while the concentrates were being run. Things like putting airlines and weight belts away, transferring used gas cans off the dredges, minor equipment repairs, etc. About the time that everything is put away and finished for the day, the concentrates are also finished, and we only have a half-hour of finish-up when we get home. This is a HUGE improvement over our old systems for final cleanup.

While smaller dredges have lesser amounts of concentrates to deal with at the end of the day, the time it takes to work them down usually is considerable, even on a three-inch dredge operation. That is, providing you are recovering worthwhile amounts of gold, especially fine gold. I don’t see any reason why the Le’ Trap sluice could not benefit any dredging operation where the dredge sluice is wide enough to allow the Le’ Trap box to fit inside.

We will be using this system in our operations during this upcoming season, and in future seasons until someone comes up with something better and faster. Anyone want to buy a good commercial shaker table?

 

By Linda Montgomery

I have found it is not necessary, during weekend or vacation gold mining trips, for women to be resigned to the camp cook and dish washer position. There is an easy, hassle-free way to spend your time and have it turn out uniquely rewarding at the end of the day. This method is called “crevicing”. It requires few tools, no back breaking work and can be enjoyed by the whole family. My kids and I have creviced in desert dry washes as well as along streams and rivers. The final panning of the material we’ve recovered has always kept us going back for more!

Crevicing gets it’s name from the cracks and crevices found in exposed bedrock. These are known gold-catching areas. It is amazing how deep gold can settle inside these cracks. The job of crevicing involves breaking the crack open wide enough to allow you to get out all the material that it contains. This isn’t hard. Within a short time you can become a pro at it. The tools of the trade vary. it’s best to have a chisel, rock pick and a gold claw. A bucket is needed to put your material in, along with a #4 classifier. If you classify at your work site, you will not have such a heavy load to lug back to camp. Add a tablespoon to your tools for scooping out material in places where your hand won’t fit.

The very best piece of equipment you can add to your operation is one of the several models of motorized vacuum suckers now available on the mining market. It is not a necessity, but there is no comparison to the ease and thoroughness of using one. These vack machines are extremely lightweight and strap to a pack frame for carrying on your back. Instead of spooning or scraping out your material, you can simply vacuum it up. These motorized vacuums are also good for sucking flood gold out of moss on high water rocks. This is probably the easiest job of all.

Here is where you can find a special offer on the world’s best vack machine.

But do not fret, if you don’t have one. When I started crevicing, I used a hammer and a screwdriver!

After you’ve gathered your tools together, hike up the river or along a dry wash, wherever you happen to be. Look for low bedrock exposure, because gold is heavy it tends to concentrate more readily in the low spots. Preferably find a crevice in the rock running toward the river instead of along it. These usually catch more gold. Remember also, the bigger the crack, the larger the gold that could be trapped inside.

Start working by loosening everything inside the crevice with your gold claw or screwdriver. Scrape it out and into your classifier on top of your bucket. Chip around any rocks jammed in the way with your chisel until they come free and you can pull them out. Sometimes you can knock off the sides of the crack to widen it by hammering. This enables you to work farther and deeper into the crevice. If you reach a point where you cannot fit your hand, use your spoon; scraping away until the crevice is clean.

This type of bedrock is over 500 million years old. It’s origins come from the ancient mountains that used to be here. Quite often it appears harder than it is; but if you keep digging and scraping, it is actually soft enough to keep breaking away.

Take everything! Moss, sand, dirt, anything that you can loosen. Clean the crevice out as much as possible or as far as you can reach. If you finish one spot and have not gathered enough material in your bucket, move to another spot.

The hardest part about this whole method of mining is carrying your material back to camp. You can regulate this to suit you. Or, if you have kids or a partner, you can share the load. That is, unless water is near the place where you are working. In that case, you can either pan or sluice your pay-dirt right there.

Crevicing is fun and rewarding for the whole family. You will probably recover lots of fine gold and once in awhile a nice nugget or two. Your back will not hurt and you will not be dog tired when you are through, either! If suction dredging for gold is not your cup of tea, and you do not want to spend extra dollars on other equipment, crevicing may be just the thing for you. No noisy engines, no gas to haul, nothing to break down. Just peace and quiet, and the enjoyment of a job well done.

 
Dave Mack

“You can also find gold out in the deserts and other dry areas where there is little or no water available.”

 

Sampling Report on K-2A at Gottville

By Sean, New 49’er Member #905

Recently, my two partners, Steve and Wendell, and I were allowed special permission to spend a weekend doing some dredge-testing on a private mining claim located in the heart of the Gottville Mining District on the Klamath River. We were very excited; as anyone with local knowledge will tell you that the Gottville area is one of the richest mining districts on the Klamath River. This claim is located near mile marker 92 along Highway 96. It is about 4 miles upriver from the town of Klamath River. It is the area where you see all the very large rock piles situated on both sides of the river.

While looking for the boundary markers, we walked around many huge piles of rocks and gravel. At first, we thought these were tailings from earlier mining. But it was later explained to us that these are actually piles of river material that were dragged up into big piles by mechanized derricks to allow the old-timers to work the deeper pay-layers behind wing dams out in the river. You can clearly see where the river used to run and that’s why this area had a lot of activity from the old-timers. I made a mental note that if I ever got to return to this claim, the high-banking potential in the big piles looks to be as rich as the dredging in the river!

After we located the boundary markers, we went looking for access points to get to the river. We found an incredible Forest Service parking area complete with a bathroom and concrete launch ramp. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

As part of our sampling plan, we test-panned some of the sand around the launch ramp. We could not believe how much the beach sand was holding small flecks of gold! Still, we knew better than to dig up the river access; because that’s where rafters and boaters launch their gear. But seeing all that gold in the sand was a great sign!

We immediately assembled our dredges while discussing where to start dredging test holes out in the river.

We decided that splitting up was the best. This way, we could prospect both sides of the river. So we floated two dredges across and kept one on the Hwy-96 side. The water was running a bit swift in the middle of the river, so we used a small inflatable boat to guide the dredges across.

Once we began dredging, we noticed layer-color changes as we started our dredge holes. I thought I saw a few flakes of gold go up the nozzle as I worked the overburden looking for contact zones or bedrock.

Soon it was time for a break and I headed straight for my sluice box. Wow, was I excited to see the gold flakes sitting on my black matt! So much for the break, and back to work I went!

I ran up against some large boulders and decided to turn out towards the center of the river as far as I could go without getting into the faster water. Before I knew it, shadows were covering the river. It was time to clean up, and also find out what my friends had found.

One friend’s progress had stalled due to a mechanical breakdown on his dredge. Too bad! Checking on my other partner across the river, a big grin was all I needed to see to know that he was also into something special. Within seconds, I started shouting when I found a large gold-covered piece of quartz in my sluce box! Here is a picture of the nugget:

This is a good claim!

Day two: We were only being allowed two days on this claim by the owner. Because we were there really to test the claim, rather than mine it, we decided to swing back across the river and work the Hwy-96 side.

We punched several more dredge holes to try and isolate what layer the gold was concentrated in. In the process, I uncovered an old hand-carved wing dam. Amazed at the craftsmanship, it gave me a good feeling to find something of quality that an earlier generation of miners left behind. A lot of special work was invested right there by some small-scale miners, probably not much different than me. This area was rich enough for the old-timers using very primitive methods, so I know it must be really good on the other side of the wing dam! But there was not enough time to go there on this particular trip.

Next time, though…

We found the gold was coming from a pay layer we think was formed during the 1997 flood. This layer wasn’t very deep into the streambed. Underneath that was a grayish hard pack, which might be the virgin material that the old-timers could not get with their wing dams. We were finding gold everywhere in the hard-pack. It was like background gold, but in paying quantities!

We finished up doing some production dredging that last afternoon, concentrating on the upper pay layer to see what we could do.

When all was said and done, I had some small quarts rocks with gold on them, so be sure to check your pans when you get down to the small stuff. I recovered one particular nice-sized quartz piece with gold ribbon around it, along with just under a quarter-ounce of match-head and rice grain-sized gold.

My partner had about 8 hours nozzle time between sampling and an afternoon of production work. His clean-up surprised me for how much gold he had for so little time. The gold was nice-size with about half sitting on top of a #20 screen. He had 11pieces that sat on top of a #10 screen – NUGGETS. His total recovery was 2/3 of an ounce, also using a 5-inch dredge.

In closing I cannot believe The New 49’ers were able to acquire this claim! I am very excited that, as a New 49ers member, this claim is going to be available to me, again. Look for Steve, Wendell and I to be back there this summer! We won’t miss out on getting our share of Gottville History Gold!

 

 
Dave Mack

“Here are some links to things every prospector should know about the business of mining…”

 

By Dave McCracken

When dealing with gold, it is important to reach way down inside yourself and decide who you are going to be!

Dave & Craig

Integrity is a personal matter. We each make our own decisions about how we will relate to others and the world around us. There are not many true saints around. Most of us have limits whereupon weaknesses or flaws in our character allow us to fall from grace (when we do things differently than we know we should).

Most of us are not monsters. So we each place personal limits to which we will not step beyond when it comes to the bad stuff. For example, a person might bend the truth around a bit, but would never steal something that belonged to someone else. Another person might steal small things, but never anything of great value and never from anyone that the person knows. Another person might be willing to pull off any kind of scam to cheat others out of money, but the person would never kill anyone. Perhaps someone in the business of murder would draw the line when it comes to killing someone in his gang or family. We each set our own upper and lower limits by the internal decisions that we make. Then, life-situations push us up and down against these limits, and we are tested.

There are few things in life that will test your limits more strenuously than natural, beautiful gold. So it is wise in the beginning to do some introspection and decide where your personal limits are going to be.

Anyone who believes they are not going to be personally tested by gold has just not found enough of it yet!

I am not a saint, either. So I instinctively knew when I was just starting in gold prospecting that I had some internal decisions to make. Since I really enjoy the activity, and wanted to carve out a place for myself in this industry, I made my decisions early on that this was one area of my life that I was not going to mess up for myself through bad business dealings or unethical behavior. At least in this one area, I decided that I was going to try and do everything the right way.

Therefore, I personally never agree to a percentage deal with partners or property owners that I do not fully intend to pay. As part of this, during the time it is in my possession, I never allow myself to get attached to that portion of the gold recovery which belongs to others.

Over the years, I have run across people on a regular basis that love gold so much, that I just can’t trust them with it. Gold is great. But you cannot let it take you completely over. In the end, it is a personal decision how deep you are going to allow yourself to get sucked in by gold. Moderation is the key to this.

Any game or activity must follow an agreed-upon set of rules, for which there is a certain amount of freedom to act within. These are the same rules that are being formed up when a business agreement is made with partners or the owner of a mining property.

You cannot really win a game through cheating. To knowingly break the rules of a game so that you can win, is to admit that the game – by the rules – is above your ability to play. A person has actually already lost the game at the point where he or she needs to cheat or change the rules without the agreement of the others who are playing.

When a person finds him or herself making all sorts of justifications to reinforce some unethical behavior, the right and wrongness of the action must already be in question in that person’s own estimation. It is the recognition of questionable behavior that prompts all the justification

This discussion is not about how other people feel about you. It is about how you see yourself. I am talking about the internal mechanisms that people use to bury their own ability to see the truth in things.

Natural ability and intelligence fundamentally comes down to being able to recognize the differences between things and to be able to act upon the differences. Whatever that quality is inside of you that can tell the difference between black, grey and white, or the differences between a hundred different shades of gray, cannot be separated from that part of you that is able to see the differences between right and wrong, or the many different shades of right and wrong. We are talking about the same thing.

A floor cleaner can tell the difference between a dirty floor and a clean floor. If he is good, he can tell the difference between a clean floor and a sparkling floor. And by being able to differentiate in this way, he will be able to learn exactly how to keep the floor sparkling. That is what makes him a good floor cleaner. This ability stems directly from the ability to see differences and the willingness to act upon them.

A gold dredger must be able to tell the difference between hard-packed material, and slightly-less hard-packed material. You need to be able to recognize when different layers change. You need to be able to see even the slightest differences in the amount of gold that is present. Prospecting is entirely about recognizing and comparing the differences that you see as samples are dredged into the streambed. Recognizing the differences, and then acting upon them, can mean the difference of finding a rich pay-streak, or missing it entirely even when all the signs of its presence were right there in front of you. There are hundreds of tiny signs and things to see and know to succeed well in this field. The good gold dredger sees many of these little differences and is able to follow up on enough of the right ones to strike pay-dirt often enough to make the activity worthwhile. This is ability that I am talking about, and it depends entirely upon your capacity to tell the differences between things and act upon them.

Personal integrity and intelligence go hand in hand with each other. When you shut down your ability or willingness to recognize the finer shades of right and wrong, you also close off that same part of your ability to see important distinctions that allow you to follow the path of gold into high-grade deposits. Your search for gold through prospecting is really a search for the truth of the way things are. Not the way you want them to be; but the way they really are!

No matter how you try to make yourself feel better about it (justification), when you cheat a claim owner or partner out of that portion of the gold that you have already agreed belongs to him (them), you are burying that priceless part of yourself that can see the truth of things. You are making yourself more stupid!

So the best answer in gold prospecting is to never cheat. The answer is to be very careful to only make deals that you can honor, and find enough gold that you can more than meet your obligations to the others who are involved. People who are good at gold dredging, and at life, do not need to steal from their partners (called “high-grading” in mining terminology) to succeed and do well at it.

You have to kick these concepts around for yourself and figure out where you are going draw your own line. Because, if there is anything in this world that will put your personal integrity to the real test, it is gold! Gold can be very difficult to let go of once it is in your hands. Gold is especially hard to give away when, internally, you do not feel that the recipient really deserves to have what it is coming to him – even if you have agreed to it beforehand. In such a case, with gold, sometimes it might be tempting to not follow through on an earlier agreement. You can find yourself coming up with all kinds of reasons (justifications) as to why you do not need to follow through with the earlier agreements. Justifications can be made to sound very reasonable (to yourself). But if they are that reasonable, why not take them up with the claim owner? Gold is a very tempting substance. You need to be careful to not lose yourself because of it!

I always try and work out a complete deal before I go onto someone else’s mining claim or property. There is much to lose by not doing so. If I cannot come to acceptable terms with a claim owner, it is much better to know ahead of time. There is no scarcity of rich gold-bearing river property around. I stay away from bad deals. This way, I do not put my personal integrity at risk in a gold mining venture.

I also stay away from making deals with bad people. Such people have a severely contagious disease. Take Joe Blow for example, who is doing pretty well in life and making progress towards his goals. Then one day he takes up a partnership with Pete Schmuck, who is obviously a shady character. Let’s say that Joe has established a pretty strong stand on his own morals, so he does not get pulled down into unethical activities by Pete Schmuck. One day, however, Schmuck finally ends up pulling the big con job on Joe Blow – or on Joe’s associates, which is even worse! Joe gets mad and now feels the need to get even, or to stop Schmuck; or if nothing else, to make things right again with his associates – if that is even possible. But before Joe teamed up with Schmuck, he was doing fine and getting along well in life. See what I mean? Cheaters are sick. They are losers. They are dishonest because they are not capable enough to do things the right way.

There is a saying, and it’s a good one: “If you want to fly like an eagle, quit playing with turkeys!”

 

Tags