“What began only as a dream a little more than twelve years ago is now Chet and Nancy Long’s very special gold-finding retirement lifestyle.”


Retirement and finding that elusive gold is what Chet and Nancy Long have been working and saving toward for well over a decade. And while many people may have no idea of what they’ll do when retirement finally rolls around, these two new retirees are doing exactly what they enjoy the most…gold mining and nugget hunting together.

They both smile a lot, and you can tell they like what they’re doing. And they’re good at it, too, with Chet having found over 206 gold nuggets in a single two-month period, using a metal detector and working a desert area just outside of Yuma, Arizona. “My dad,” Chet recalls, “has always had a metal detector, and he’s the one that got me started. We’ve always read a lot of stories about people finding gold and relics, and I guess we just figured we could do it, too. At first it was really hard going, and I even wondered if I’d ever find a nugget, but now I know it’s there and anyone who’ll persist and take the time to learn a bit can find them. In fact, in just one day I managed to take 40 different pieces.”

And if anyone happens to be talking about gold mining and Chet and Nancy are nearby, you can be sure they’ll be listening. “We’ve learned a lot about mining and prospecting from a lot of great people,” says Nancy, who’s got a thirst for adventure and a smile as big and warm as a home-baked apple pie. “So much of the fun of finding gold, or at least the way we’ve done it, is meeting the other miners. We all help each other locate the gold, because most people who are into good gold love to share their experience.”

Today their home is where the gold is, but it wasn’t always that way. Before they retired Nancy was an editorial typist for the Air Force Test Pilot program, and Chet was a civilian electronics technician, working on America’s Space program at Edwards Air Force Base in Arizona.

“I got him a dry washer for a wedding present,” Nancy recalls. “Chet had gotten the gold bug after studying geology and anthropology at the college in Antelope Valley, and as soon as we started getting out into the desert and finding a little color, that was it, and we were from that moment on just destined to be gold miners and prospectors.

“Then listening to people tell how much fun it was to actually dredge for gold in the creeks got us into buying our first 2-inch dredge. It didn’t take us long to really get hooked on that because we found a real nice nugget on our very first trip. After that we would go up to the creek on the weekends and holidays, and Chet would start the holes, and then I’d get in the water with a snorkel and push them as deep as we could go. It was great; we really had a ball doing that for the next five or six years.” About this time we started dreaming of getting a new five-inch dredge, and then when we finally got it, we took it up to Piru Creek where the water, in a lot of the good spots, is only 2 to 6 inches deep. We had to dredge a hole with our 2-inch dredge to put our new five-incher in. Then we’d use the tailings to make a pool to get it floating; it was great fun and we found some really nice gold.”

These days Chet and Nancy make their home pretty much wherever the gold trail takes them. As lovers of the great outdoors, their 24-foot 5th wheel trailer and four-wheel-drive truck make perfect partners in their gold mining ventures. “We didn’t always have the RV,” Chet recalls, “and for years we’d get off work at four o’clock on Friday night, head out, and not return until late Sunday night. Nancy would cook on the tailgate of the truck, and I’d kid her about how I take her out to eat more often than any four other people.”

To Chet and Nancy, finding gold has far more meaning than just the value of the gold itself. It is the thrill of finding it and sharing the excitement and pleasure with their friends. “Whenever we’d come back from a weekend gold hunting trip, on Monday all the people back at work would gather round and say, ‘Okay, show us the gold.’ We’d be so excited, and they just couldn’t believe we’d work so hard just to find that little bit of gold that was in the jar, but we were. And of course if you’re a miner you’d understand.”

Now that they’re retired, each new day holds a promise for Nancy and Chet Long an opportunity to live the life they’ve worked so long and hard to have. From their home in Yuma, Chet is able to make frequent trips out into his favorite nuggets hotspots, many with his dad, Chester Long, Sr., who’s now 88 years old and still finding his share of that elusive gold.

Whether metal detecting, dredging, (Dry-washing) dry washing, or just shooting the breeze about a good gold location, they’re living the kind of life that many only dream about. And to those of us who can feel adventure calling, Chet and Nancy Long are the first to say, “Come on, lets go…there’s gold out there.”



Mail man from Fairfield, Connecticut finds his first gold nugget in Happy Camp, California!

Four hours of panning and I was totally hooked!” Those are the words of a new gold prospector, Henry Kutash of Fairfield, Connecticut. When asked how he got started in gold prospecting, Henry said he had originally panned for gold in historic Jamestown, California and also a little in various areas of southern California. But he didn’t find much gold there, so he kept searching for a new, more productive, area to spend his valued vacations.

Last summer, Henry traveled 2,800 miles to attend a weekend training program sponsored by The New 49’ers gold prospecting association in Happy Camp, California. Very educational weekend training programs are scheduled throughout the summer months. Members of this Association gain access to 60+ miles of mining properties managed by The New 49’ers, and get to keep all the gold they can find. Henry was determined to recover his fair share!

The New 49’ers sponsor a number of organized events, including specialized training programs and group mining projects. Henry definitely took advantage of each and every day of his two-week visit to Happy Camp. He participated in every activity that was scheduled, took every lesson that was available and went along on all the organized outings. He was particularly impressed with how friendly and helpful everyone was in Happy Camp. According to Henry, “The nicest thing about the New 49’ers is that they are so family-oriented. A lot of family members were enjoying prospecting together.”

During the first week, Henry learned how to really use his metal detector for nugget shooting. “Not that it’s so difficult, actually,” said Henry, “It’s just that it takes some practice to atune yourself to what you are listening for. To find gold nuggets with a detector, you just have to get out there and work at it. Happy Camp gave me the opportunity to receive some expert help which moved me along quite rapidly on the learning curve. Of course, it also helps to be in the right location!” Henry attended the advanced class taught by Gordon Zahara—who is northern California’s leading specialist in metal detecting for gold. Gordon sets up a special double set of headphones for his students so that he can listen in on what they are doing with the detector. Sometimes there is very little difference in sound from specific hot rocks and some gold targets. So this training is worth years of trial and error. Henry learned to identify the sounds of hot rocks vs. good targets. He also became familiar with the ground balance function of his detector. Once he had mastered this—he was on his way to success!

Henry spent most of his two weeks panning and sluicing for gold—which mostly was fines and small flakes. While he was happy with this, he really wanted to find a nice nugget to take home. Deciding his best chances were with the use of his metal detector, he arranged with Gordon to go out to the Independence Claim and do some nugget shooting.

Soon after he began, Henry received a strong signal that for some reason started to decrease about four or five inches down. Yet, after he and Gordon removed some of the bedrock, the signal became strong again. Henry did not know there was a nugget until Gordon washed it off and dropped it in a cup—offering the prize to Henry.

“It looked like just a black rock to me,” said Henry. Yet, there in the cup, was a one-pennyweight nugget sitting up like a chocolate bunny!

Now that’s the way to end a vacation!

Besides, Henry had vowed not to shave until he found a gold nugget, so I’m sure there are some happy postal workers back in Fairfield!

Henry had sent postcards to many of the patrons along his route back home; but now the “clean shaven” Henry was really looking forward to showing them his nugget—especially to the woman at the bakery where he gets his coffee every morning…

“She’s going to faint when she sees this!” stated Henry.

Henry shared that he has no ties back home, that he can come and go as he pleases—so I feel it is safe to say that one of the places he’ll go next year is right back to Happy Camp, California.

Good Luck Henry!



“Whenever I need some money, I tell my wife Karolyn that I’m going down to the bank to get some…the river bank that is. And so far, my belief that the gold is there, combined with hard work and good fortune, has never let me down.” … Jim Britton


Jim Britton’s the kind of man who will tell you right off that he’s doing exactly what he’s always dreamed of doing — that’s mining for gold. And even if he’s not pulling gold at the level he’d really like to at a particular point in time, he’s quick to say, “I’d rather be here beside the river enjoying the looking and anticipating the discovery than living in the city and breathing all that pollution and just working at some regular job.

“I was introduced to the Gold Bug at a very early age,” he says with a warm smile that turns quickly into a grin and makes one think that he may be about to spin a yarn. “Probably when I was six or seven years old. Back then, all us kids would watch adventure movies. I was hooked on the ones that had anything to do with gold. Then as I grew up I started reading about the old 49ers, and I just couldn’t seem to find out enough about where they mined and the methods they would use. Still it wasn’t till a few years later when I was out on my own with a shovel and a pan that I really got the ‘gold bite’. It was near a little town called Quartsville, just outside of Sweet Home, Oregon, where I actually found my first gold — about 1/2 pennyweight, and I’ve never been the same since.

“I’ve always believed you’ve got to do your homework, and that includes a lot of research. And in those days I had just began to discover all about underwater dredging, and I figured that since panning for gold was giving me such a kick, I would pull more gold and have a lot more fun if I had a dredge. So I went out and bought myself a two-inch suction dredge, and within no time at all I was pulling two to three pennyweight a day and just having a great time.

“That was really just the beginning,” recalled Jim, “because within a short time I had run into another guy who let me spend some time on his five-inch dredge. After a half an hour of pulling gold with it, I just couldn’t go back to working with my little two-inch. That’s when I had to get my entire family gold bitten,” he reflected. “My dad and mom had always been really supportive of the things I tried to do, but this time they just couldn’t believe that you could really just go out and find gold. Like most people, they figured all the gold was already found. However, within a short time I had them out there with me on the river bank, and by just getting them exposed to the gold I was bringing up with my two-inch, they were gold bitten real hard. Then within a short time, the entire family, including my older brother, was mining with our new five-inch, and we were pulling more gold than any of us had ever seen at one time.”

Like most successful gold miners, Jim Britton has tried working at a number of different jobs, but he says he just can’t get the river and the gold out of his mind. “It’s the thing I love to do,” he reports, “and besides, where could I ever get a job that pays as well as gold mining and has as much job security? There’s been gold miners since the dawn of recorded time, and there probably always will be. Some days I’ll make as much as $800 or even more, and I’ll do it in four hours. Of course, you gotta do your homework, and you gotta pay your dues.”

Jim’s formula for success still begins with a gold pan. “Before I put my dredge into a spot, I’ll pan up and down the bank, usually on both sides of the river looking for the point where the river’s deposited the most color during high water. I’ll have picked a particular stretch to check out, either because my knowledge and experience of how the gold is carried and pay-streaks are formed tells me that here should be good, or because someone else had been working there and either couldn’t locate the pay-streak, or had wandered off the mark and had decided to move on to a different area. By using my gold pan, I can usually get a good idea of where the river is ‘willing to payoff’ or at least where the pay dirt has hit the bank, and there’s where I’ll put my dredge in. I’ll first punch my hole and pay very close attention to the different pay layers. A lot of times I’ll find that the gold is lying four to five feet above the bedrock, and if I’d continue on down I’d just be wasting a lot of time and energy. Other times the bedrock’s where it’s gonna be, so I just have to keep on punching down till I hit bottom, and then I’ll begin a cut straight across the river channel.”

Jim has worked a lot of different areas of the Pacific Northwest, basically following up the different strikes of the old 49ers. He says he’s hit most of the hot spots in eastern and southern Oregon as well as spots in Idaho and California. Right now he’s mining the Klamath River in northern California, using a customized six-inch with a Keene power train and sluice box that is mounted on an R & R Mining frame and float bag kit.

“When I first saw the Klamath it looked mighty big, but within three days from the time I launched my 5-inch, I was into the gold and had enough money to cover my expenses and meet the bills for the next couple of months. I’ve dived this river for two years on a commercial basis, even in the winter when the dredge was white with a layer of ground frost, and the water temperature was probably 45°. Last summer in just three weeks I pulled one and a half pounds of gold in an area we call Glory Hole.”

Jim is also quick to point out that while mining is right for him, it may not be right for everyone. A person’s got to work really hard and be mentally and financially able to stand the dry spells. “I’ve been able to make it work because I’ve got the full support of my wife Karolyn and our two daughters. Karolyn, who lives and works in Vancouver, Washington, makes the long trip up to the Klamath every two weeks, spending the weekend helping to tend the dredge, enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors, and picking nuggets out of the sluice box. My folks have also been behind us a hundred percent, spending ,time at the river as well.”

Everett Gene Britton, Jim’s father, who helped finance that first 5-inch dredge, remained an avid gold miner until his death early this spring, stating in no uncertain terms that some of his very best days were spent panning gold and tending dredge.

In the local area surrounding the Klamath, Jim Britton is known as a man who will lend a helping hand. The kind of person who will take time out of his own diving schedule to get a neophyte gold miner off to a little better start. And he’s an advocate of “miners helping miners” and the necessity of miners working and standing together to protect their rights as granted under the 1872 Mining Law.

“My life is gold,” he reports. “In fact whenever I’m back home and someone comes to visit, my wife will tell them not to mention gold, or I’ll never stop talking about it. I’ve even tried to stay away from the river and the dredge, but it’s in my blood, and I get withdrawal pains whenever I’m away from it. My life is like living an adventure, and if someone would offer me a job at say a $100,000 a year, I would just have to pass it up, because finding gold is what I love and it’s what I’m good at.”




The memory is still very clear. When I was a kid about 9 years old, we played Cowboys and Indians in the ruins of bombed-out Hamburg in postwar Germany. We kids consumed the mandatory literature about Billy the Kid, the Lone Ranger, and the exploring of America’s Wild West. Sometimes we read with a flashlight under the bedspread, reading until deep into the night.

These stories had such an impact on me that my fantasies about America nearly became an obsession. The dream that formed in my mind at that time came true in 1965.

My first time in America and I was hooked. I spent the second half of the 60’s in Hollywood, California, became part of the Hippie crowd with all its good and bad things. While I survived all of that in pretty good shape, I was hopelessly spoiled. Unable to go back to the 9-to-5 routine in Germany, I became a world traveler with odd job opportunities that lay left and right along my way of life.

Mining for gold was one of the more adventurous tasks I took on in ’81. The last frontier–Alaska was calling me from afar. My old VW camper was shipped from Germany to Houston, Texas; and after four weeks, I picked it up and was on my way. I made a stop in Phoenix, Arizona and bought a 2″ dredge, together with all the other mining paraphernalia that was needed

The distance between Los Angeles and Fairbanks on a small scale map doesn’t look very far–but drive it and you’ll be surprised. It took me about a week to get there. Fantastic landscape and thrilling wildlife throughout the trip. Breathtaking, awesome, unbelievable, hard to put into words!!

My first mining experience was a bad one. Everywhere I went along the rivers and creeks, I saw huge signs with KEEP OUT, ACTIVE MINING CLAIM. After two days of looking, I ended up along the old Steese Highway some 30 miles out of Fairbanks, working the tailings of one of the old bucket-line dredges they used in the past. The outside temperature was 75 degrees by the end of June; but when I put my hands into the water -brrr – I pulled them out and checked for frostbite. The water temperature was barely above the freezing point, and it took all the fun out of the gold mining.

Disappointed, I left Alaska and went south. A short stop over in Auburn, California along the North Fork of the American River looked much more promising. I recovered two ounces of gold in six weeks – not bad for a beginner with my little dredge.

When I went back to Germany (I had run out of cash), I decided to become a belt-maker. For the next five years, I worked in Spain on the lovely island of Ibiza, making and selling my designer-belts with great success. In 1987, I tired and retired. I had enough funds to be on the road again for the rest of my life and could do whatever I wanted.

Shortly after my retirement, in Germany, I saw a TV special about the New 49’ers Gold Prospecting Association in Happy Camp, California. The impression I got was sound and solid. I was off to California in a jiffy and arrived in Happy Camp in July of 1989. I joined the New 49’ers and scouted out the miles and miles of claims along the Klamath River.

Because of my busted eardrum, deep diving was out of the question. I could only operate a gold dredge in shallow water, hoping to find bedrock in no more depth than five feet. For the rest of the summer, I was finding enough gold to show the folks back home.

I especially like the fringe benefits of mining, like the unspoiled nature, the abundance of wildlife, and the friendly, helpful people. That was something I had never experienced before. Socializing at the Saturday potlucks with raffles, stories and games, made my stay a happy one.

I have returned to Happy Camp multiple times in the preceding years. I can think of no other place where there is more active small-scale mining going on, and so many other people who have similar interests.
The very valuable training and assistance I received from the New 49’ers was thorough and founded on many years of experience. All I can say is – thank you – you’ve been a great help – and I’ll be back!


Let me end with a little poem that just crossed my mind:

The summer is gone,
Now is September,
And the end of your vacation is near.
You had a good time,
And you’ll remember –
Back home – frustrations you fear.
Then think of the Klamath,
Its gold and its fame,
Make plans for the upcoming year.
And maybe – who knows –
I’ll be seeing you again,
‘Cause part of my heart is left here.



Dan and Verna  Good clean-up

Theirs is a story that reads a bit like a fantasy from a modern romance or a legendary yarn from a fictional book…A husband and wife team, who not only love each other and the adventure of finding gold, but can also consistently find and recover literally pounds of it!

It was a cold and very wet day in 1978 on the Sixes river in Oregon, windy and coastal Oregon wet, not at all the kind of day one would expect to later recall as extraordinary. Sitting in his little camp trailer, Dan Fifer was bored to death. And even though the river right next to his campground was running 10 feet or more above summer levels, he decided that since he had bought that gold mining stuff, which included a 2 1/2 inch Keene gold dredge, a wet-suit, and assorted gold mining screens, buckets, and pans, he might as well go ahead and try it out.

Not knowing a thing about gold mining or what he should look for when setting up a dredging location, Dan just put on his wet-suit, mustered his ambition, situated himself and his gear, and then set up the dredge in front of a huge boulder and started pumping sand and gravel for something to do.

As the morning passed, Dan ran out of gas and headed up to the trailer for some hot coffee and more fuel. “My boredom was gone now, replaced with at least something interesting and new, but then as I returned to the dredge and looked in the trays, I was completely blown away, because there were pieces of gold lying behind every riffle.”

“Having no working knowledge of gold, I didn’t know the first thing about what I had just found,” recalls Dan. “I didn’t know how to clean it up or what it would be worth if I did want to sell it. So I just picked the gold out along with a lot of black sand and put it in a bottle. Well, my good fortune just seemed to continue; because a few days later, an old oriental gold-buyer from San Francisco came by the campground asking if anyone had gold they wanted to sell. I said I wasn’t sure, but I thought I had a little bit. Imagine, here I was, not knowing a thing about gold, not even how to clean it.”

“I just handed him my bottle — the gold still mixed with black sands and other heavy material — thinking how happy I’d be if I had pulled $10 or $15 dollars worth. Imagine my surprise when after helping me with the clean-up process, he grinned and paid me over $3,000 dollars for it. Needless to say, I’ve had a passion for gold mining ever since.”

Gold in a pan Watching dredgers

By the following year, Dan had purchased a new triple sluice five-inch dredge with air. He also met Verna, who was already a gold seeker, herself. Verna recalls how she was panning and sluicing on the bank and digging about in search for the elusive golden flakes when Dan, after getting acquainted, tried to talk her into putting on a mask and dredging with him on the bottom of the river. “I wouldn’t have anything to do with it at first,” she says with a knowing twinkle in her eyes, “But Dan was really smart, and he fixed up an extra air line and just left it lying on the bank along with a face mask; and before long, I not only was married to him, I was down there right next to him bringing that beautiful gold right up from the river bottom.”

8-inch dredgeThat was nearly ten years ago, and today Dan and Verna consider themselves to be some of the luckiest people in the world. Lucky because they have each other, share a love for the beauty of the great outdoors. They also have the greatest job in the world… looking for and finding gold. “Now that’s not to say that we don’t get disgusted and even a little depressed now and then,” says Verna. “We’ve even considered making our living in some other way. In fact, one time we sold our trailer and even our dredge and bought a house. But the minute that sun started shining, we just couldn’t stand it. We sold the house and bought our 34-foot travel trailer and a new dredge and headed out for the gold and the river. When you come right down to it, there’s just something about professional mining and getting into the gold that makes all the hard work worth it.”

To Dan, the enticement seems to lie more in the “sense of discovery,” than in the finding of the gold itself. “Of course, we enjoy the money that finding a real nice pocket or pay-streak can bring, but I know that I can make a good living doing any number of things. For me, when I get under that water, whether I’m moving the rocks or nozzling, the rest of the world just seems to not even exist.”

Verna says that for her, it’s the beauty of the gold, especially once it’s been cleaned and turned into exquisite, but simple, jewelry. She also feels that gold dredging is the greatest exercise program in the world. In fact, in a single season she and Dan will both take off as much as 15 or 20 pounds of extra weight put on during the winter months while not in the river dredging.

Verna FiferVerna is a firm believer in the equality of the sexes as far as gold mining is concerned. She gets a real big kick out of taking her turn at running the nozzle on their eight-inch Pro-Mack dredge. “You know, it’s amazing how many miners’ wives and girl friends I’ve turned on to the fun and adventure of actually getting under the water where the action is. At first, they often seem reserved or even a little taken aback, but boy do most of them have fun once they actually suit up and try it.”

Both are quick to point out that their success is a direct result of hard work with the right approach. Having access to so much mining property through The New 49’er membership program has laid the foundation for their success on multiple levels.

Like most of us who love gold mining, the Fifers readily admit wanting to hit the real big one, of constantly prospecting for that rich pay-streak. “We’ve had spectacular days;” they say, both grinning from ear to ear, “Like those two-and-four-ounce days — last year in the Glory Hole on the Klamath River in northern California, when every single spiral in our wheel would be just full of gold in nearly every single clean-up. Last year, we pulled a little over four pounds, and that was with our five-inch dredge. And this year, we plan to do even better with our new eight-incher.”

Gold in Gold wheel



They are doing what each of them wants to do, they’re doing it together, and making a living at it!


When she was a girl, Joy Cole’s dad took her along on his gold prospecting trips. She shared his excitement when they found the precious stuff, and from him learned to know and love the western lands that hid its glory from the casual seeker.

Ed Cole grew up in Massachusetts, far from the lore and lure of gold. Even after serving seventeen years in the Navy, teaching telemetry at the Federal Electric Corporation, and working for Northrup, what he knew or cared about gold wouldn’t have quivered a troy weight scale.

Today, Joy and Ed have combined their interests, expertise, and abilities into a profitable connection with gold and gold mining. They’re a modern gold mining success story.

“Ten years ago,” Ed says, “I didn’t even know what a gold pan was. A friend’s wife was working in a publishing house that published treasure magazines. I started reading them and became interested in the whole idea. The more I read, the more interested I got.”

Joy, a petite, pretty gal with sparkling eyes, believes there’s more to it than that. She gets hunches. Maybe it has something to do with the close touch she’s had with the land, the love of it formed in those years she spent prowling and exploring with her father. She doesn’t apologize for respecting those feelings we can’t always explain.

“A friend of mine went to a gold show,” she recalls. “He took a picture of a truck with his camera. It was a dazzling gold affair with the word ‘Goldfinders’ painted across it. Many months later, when we first met, Ed showed me this picture. It was his truck. Guess who was walking up the path in the picture? Me!”

“And,” she continues, “as we got to know each other, we discovered that the last four digits of his store’s telephone were the same as the last four digits of my home phone.”

Joy felt it was karma, or fate, that brought them together; and the way things were going for Ed at the time, he’d probably agree.

After being bitten by the treasure bug through his reading, Ed invested in some silver. When its value started rising, he got excited about precious metals. In addition, he’d just sold his house for a tidy profit, made a windfall playing the then-popular Pyramid Game; and having little love for his 9-5 existence, decided to become a gold miner. “I didn’t know gold from mica, but I quit my job, bought a dredge, a wet suit, the whole nine yards, and went to Placerville to make my living mining gold.”

When he got there, he found it wasn’t quite that easy. “Here I am, and I don’t know how to do it, where to do it, or anyone who can show me. I ended up giving this guy $500 cash, with a promise to give him the first ounce of gold I got working his 20-acre claim.”

When he put his dredge in the river, there were four other hopefuls there before him—all working the same 20-acre claim. Ed’s weathered face breaks into a grin remembering his initiation into gold mining. “That guy never got any first ounce of my gold, because I never made an ounce that whole year!”

When winter came, Ed stopped mining. He still had plenty of money in the bank and nothing to do. He thought, “Here I am in Placerville, in the Mother Lode, and there’s not a mining supply store in town.” He decided to open one. In December, “Goldfinders” became a reality.

Then, when Spring came, Ed found himself living a familiar scenario. “I’m stuck in this damn store. I had quit my job before because I hated 9 to 5, and here I am—back to it again. I decide, the hell with this, sold everything, and went back to mining.” Ed holds up his toddy glass in salute, leaving it to you to decide which decision, quitting or starting, he’s drinking to.

Meanwhile, Joy’s love of rock-hounding and gold prospecting was keeping her out on the land she loved. After she was widowed, she became active in various gold prospecting and rockhounding clubs, was mining in the Coolgardie mining district in Barstow, and selling her own line of gold jewelry.

A fellow operating gravel pits along the Columbia River asked her to tell him how to recover the fine gold he was losing in his operation. Joy says, “A geologist had been out there and suggested he consult someone who could tell him how to save it. I turned out to be the ‘someone’.”

About this time, a friend approached her and asked her opinion of a separating device he’d invented. “The price of gold is going up,” she told him, “If it works, it’ll sell.” Joy was right. After some adjustments were made to the Gold Hawk Rocking Gold Pan, as it was called, they took it to the Coloma Gold Show where, she says, “It sold like hotcakes.”

Her reputation as a knowledgeable small-scale gold miner was growing, as well as her expertise in collectors’ items, gold bullion, silver and jewelry.

She and Ed first met at this show, and their common interest in gold mining and gold shows kept bringing them together.By now, not able to make a living at gold mining, Ed was back at a 9-5 job, locked into a lifestyle he hated. Weekends and vacation-time helped ease the tedium. Ed and Joy formed a partnership and mined together in the Coolgardie district. “It was kind of interesting,” she recalls, “what with the Mojave greens (rattlesnakes) and all.” In 1982 they added another facet to their gold mining partnership. They married.

Ed recalls how much he wanted to mine full time. “Gold mining was what I wanted to do, but I didn’t think I could make a living at it.” However, after months of discussion and indecision, they decided to go ahead. They said “good-bye,” to 9-5; “hello” to the goldfields.

During the years they’ve been mining full time, they’ve gained knowledge and experience in almost every aspect of small-scale gold mining.

Together, they’ve owned and worked heavy equipment, they’ve dry-washed, dredged and sniped. They have even drift-mined, something few small-scale gold miners have ever heard about, no less done. Today, most of their mining is the with a motorized sluice.

They are sought-after speakers for gold and treasure clubs. They give workshops and seminars for inexperienced miners. And, they willingly share their knowledge with anyone who is interested.

Joy has created beauty from the gold they work out of the earth. Her jewelry has found appreciative buyers, mainly because her work is different from most. “I don’t like doing the same as everyone else, “ she says. “I like to be an innovator, not an imitator. Once I see some of the things I’ve created being picked up by others, I create something new, different.”

Ed has invented a number of important gold and work-saving mining devices, some born of Joy’s suggestions.

Ed has very definite ideas about where small-scale gold mining is, and should be, going. He makes it clear he speaks for himself, not his wife, nor any gold mining organization. “There seems to be a feeling out there that the small-scale miner is getting something he’s really not entitled to. I don’t feel this way. I believe this is our land; it’s public land, we pay taxes on it, and small, recreational miners have as much right to mine it as big companies do.

“I think the only way the small-miner miner is going to keep his right to mine is to somehow get every treasure and gold prospecting club into one organization to fight for our right to use the public lands. It needs an organization with paid people—lawyers, administrators, public relations professionals—to do this. If we don’t pull it together now, we’re not going to have it later.” Ed raises his toddy, and we drink to that.

They are a complex couple, each complementing the other, each learning and doing with the other’s support. Ed is the consummate rebel. He left the Navy, on principle, three years before he would have been eligible for retirement and secure lifetime benefits. He broke from security and the established path to mine gold, a chancy occupation, at best.

Joy is a beautiful lady, like quicksilver, with a bubbling laugh and boundless enthusiasm for her lifestyle—a woman who counts a day lost if she hasn’t learned something new during the course of it.

Joy and Ed Cole represent what’s best in the small-scale mining field today. As self-employers, they bring dedication and persistence to what they’re doing, and wouldn’t think of doing anything else.

As miners, they bring independence, hard work, and respect for the environment in which they work. As entrepreneurs, they bring mining innovations and inventions to the market place. And as thinkers, they bring an awareness that, although government giveth, government can also taketh away.



Two brothers, Roger and Richard Bogan, share the dream of striking it rich…together

Theirs is a partnership that is unique, a friendship of two brothers, the kind you would generally expect to exist in a storybook or television script. And on the Klamath River in Northern California they are known as the team who know how to get it….get the gold, that is. Not an easy reputation to obtain, and even a more difficult one to maintain. Gold is elusive, and keeping a partnership viable and working for more than one season means not only putting in long hours under water moving the overburden of rocks, sand, and gravel, it means having the ability to find the pay-streaks.

Their long time dream of putting an 8-inch underwater dredge to work became reality, and in a matter of approximately 31 hours of diving, the Bogan brothers netted $4,000 in placer gold from their very first clean-up. Sound easy? Well let’s take a closer look at all the hard work, preparation and planning that went into making this very demanding and difficult task actually work.

“I had the dream way back in 1982 to start gold mining,” Roger reflected. “Even then, before I ever found a single nugget, I felt a kind of intense excitement. Of course at first it was only a hobby. Then, I got my brother Richard interested in 1983 when he flew to Arizona to visit from Illinois. We took this little prospecting trip with a 3-inch dredge up to Bumble Bee, about 45 miles north of Phoenix. I remember Richard caught the fever right away. In fact he literally beat the water to a froth the minute he saw the first couple of colors. Since that time we’ve found quite a bit of gold, seen a lot of country and had some fantastic adventures.”

In 1984 the Bogan brothers journeyed to Alaska for the summer, staying three months in the back country, 200 miles, from the nearest telephone in an area near Jack Wade Creek on the south fork of the 40 Mile.

“The country was spinetinglingly beautiful,” remembered Roger, “but Mother Nature didn’t cooperate very well. In all the time we were there, we probably had only 18 days when we were actually able to dredge for gold. When it would rain, which it seemed to most of the time, the rivers would rise 5 to 6 feet overnight and it would become a real tempestuous situation. Even though we had a 5-inch dredge that was really outfitted, we just couldn’t dive in those conditions.”

Throughout that summer Roger and Richard recovered enough gold to pay expenses they saw some magnificent country, and were mining only 1 1/2 miles from another hardworking miner who struck it rich with a 54-ounce gold nugget.

After Alaska they decided to try California. “We’d heard rumors about rich rivers and they were true, but you have to really go for it. Even small dredges have the capability to actually bring up the gold, but it al1 depends on how hard a person wants to work. You just can’t sit on the bank and make that gold jump into your sluice box; you’ve got to work! The bigger the dredge the harder the work, but you get more production of course.

“One thing about California, it’s a lot cheaper to mine there than Alaska, so we took a 4-inch, a 5-inch, and an 8-inch dredge with us all at the same time. We figured we could sample with the 5-inch, use the 4-inch in the creeks, and do the real production work with the 8-inch. We spent about a month working the creeks, and that’s where we pulled our biggest nuggets — one was a really nice quarter-ouncer which Richard immediately laid claim to. We also found a lot of nice coarse gold.” In that first month the Bogans recovered 6 ounces, and then decided to move the “big guy” into the river.

“We had picked what we believed would be a really productive spot,” recalled Roger. “We had spent a lot of time talking to the old-timers. They really know the lay of the land and where the gold is likely to be carried in the river during the high flood waters. Those people are great; they have so much knowledge if you just listen to them. We had also taken some mining seminars from Dave McCracken, and we felt we’d hit a pay-streak if we could just keep in mind the old miners’ rule: “If you were the heaviest thing in that river where would you be?”

In the spot they chose, the 5-inch sampling dredge hit pay-dirt, bringing up 3/4 of an ounce of gold in the first set of sample holes. “We knew right then we were on to something, so we turned on the 8-inch and spent the summer doing what we’d been dreaming of doing for years. The dredge we continued to use throughout the rest of the season was that same 8-inch. We had built it ourselves, using a 1600cc Volkswagon engine and Precision machine components. So far we’ve built five different dredges, and we’ve been very happy with our ability to recover both fine and coarse gold.”

The energy I felt when spending time with these dynamic and dedicated miners was nothing short of spellbinding, and it’s definitely contagious. “Our goal for the next six months,” Roger reports, “is to actually recover 500 to 600 ounces. That way we’ll not only cover expenses, we’ll be making a very comfortable living doing what our entire team loves the most.”


HOW SOME MEMBERS HAVE DONE: Prospecting operations on our gold properties usually fall into three general categories: Small-scale, intermediate-scale, and large-scale.

It is very common for our smallest-scale members to recover a pennyweight (1/20th of an ounce) or two of gold per day in their small dredging or shoveling activities. Some of our relatively new members have panned or shoveled as much as an ounce per week along our gold properties.


Our more experienced, intermediate-scale members can and do recover 1/4 ounce per day on a regular basis. Some of our individual members using sluices (using motorized pumps to provide water up on the stream bank) were averaging 1/4 ounce per day during a past season–even though one or two pennyweight per day is more common.


Not everyone recovers this much gold, but many of those who apply themselves to learning prospecting techniques have done this well and better.

Some of our more serious intermediate dredging members have averaged well over an ounce of gold per day at times. And some of our most serious, larger-scale dredgers (8-inch and 10-inch suction dredges along the Klamath River) have averaged in the multiple ounces per day range. Again, they prospected around to find higher-grade gold deposits.


It is common for people to ask us for average gold value figures contained within the gravels along the gold properties available to members. Placer gold deposits are not consistent enough to place an average figure on 60 linear miles of area! Some areas are great; some areas are poor; and some areas are in-between. How much gold you can expect to recover largely depends upon your level of ability and prospecting experience, size of equipment, how much work you are prepared to do–and partly on your luck. However, we feel a prospector largely creates luck by energetically undertaking proper sampling techniques. We can guarantee you are going to recover gold on the Klamath and Salmon Rivers. How much you recover depends entirely upon your approach.

We have had a fair number of members start from scratch and evolve their activity into lucrative small-scale, commercial mining operations. We have many success stories of this kind, and some members have done exceptionally well!

Since gold prospecting, like any other activity, has a learning curve, you need to study how to do it and get some experience under your belt to be continually successful. The New 49’ers have an ongoing program, which consists of organized group mining projects where we actually go out and do it, to help you with this. Generally, you can expect to do as well as you apply yourself to the available opportunities.

Just about all of our members agree that they have done better along our gold properties than elsewhere, and agree that there are no better gold opportunities available anywhere.


Note: Oregon Now Has Placed a Moratorium on Motorized Prospecting!

Rogue GoldWell, here’s my total gold from dredging in Oregon — what a blast I had!

My total was 9.5 ounces of beautiful gold!

I had some people from one of the Internet gold forums ask “how” I found that much gold…

Here was my answer:

Well it was prospecting, prospecting and then more prospecting to find some rich pockets. I moved around a lot. I moved around so much that after June, I did not even tie my dredge to shore while dredging. I just dragged it wherever I felt like going with my nozzle while under water — even out into the gut of the Rogue River without a line to shore. I was “free” to prospect wherever!

I tied my dredge off to shore over night.

Basically, if you want a “how to” answer, I learned most of how I prospect from The New 49er’s Club.  So if I have to give credit it will be to Craig Colt who taught me a whole lot while working with him on his 8″ dredge a few years back. And of course the remainder I learned from Dave McCracken either directly or indirectly and other 49’er members.

The 49’ers are so valuable at learning gold mining, it would be hard to be without the membership and the members.

So out of the 90 days that were available in the season, I dredged about 70 of them. It would have been more if it were not for a death in the family (flew back to Atlanta), and I also lost some days when they removed the Gold Ray Dam.

Its really all about finding high-grade gold and mining it and then moving on to find more when it is exhausted.

It was a wild Summer in Oregon for sure! Got to heal up for next Summer.

I hope to see you guys out there!

Alan Mash


By Marc Rogers

Gold prospector makes the best of new-found opportunities

A gold pan for Christmas! That’s what Philip received from his brother-in-law about eighteen years ago, and it gave him a good excuse to try panning on the streams that ran through the family ranch in Colorado. He didn’t find any gold on the ranch, but that didn’t stop him. He just started ranging out into other nearby areas to do his panning, places where gold had been found in the past.

He soon found himself spending more and more of his free time panning for gold, looking to find more of the shiny flakes he panned from the crystal clear streams. It was exciting each time he found a new spot that turned up some “color”, and he liked it! He continued panning until about 1980. When the price of gold went up so high, he decided it was time to buy a dredge; and he started taking at least part of every summer off to look for gold. All of his dredging was in Colorado for awhile, then he started wandering farther afield.

He spent some time one summer in Alaska; another year he spent some time in Arizona; and one year he went to Nevada. He found some gold everywhere he went, but not as much as he wanted to find.

He was working at strip mines during the winter months, but he wanted to spend more time gold mining, and finding more gold! Finally, in December of last year, he quit his job and went back to Arizona to look for gold.

While in Arizona he came across a copy of Gold & Treasure Hunter magazine, and liked what he read about The New 49’ers Prospecting Organization. Soon after, he met some New 49’er members, and was able to get further information from them. From the things they told him, this group seemed to be just what he was looking for. There was gold to be found, and without the type of hassles and problems that he’d encountered in the past, whenever he attempted to find a good place to dredge. Shortly thereafter he joined the club, and made plans to head up to Happy Camp early in the spring, taking his four-inch dredge along with him.

He arrived in Happy Camp before Memorial Day, and spent a little time asking questions before deciding where to dredge. He attended a couple of the Saturday evening group potlucks, asking questions of the members and Dave McCracken, to get an idea where he wanted to try first.

He finally decided to start dredging on one of the creek claims that had been in the club several years, but from what everyone had been telling him, had not been worked much.

He went up to look the area over and picked his location, based on what he’d been told by Dave and other 49er members. He knew the creek claims tended to have gold in pockets, and he might not find anything for awhile. But he also knew that everyone said there was nice coarse gold here–and that was what he was after! He wanted some “nice-sized gold,” instead of the fine gold that he had commonly found in the past!

As he set up in the creek and began to dredge, he tried to prepare himself for the possibility of not doing very well for a time. And then, Wow! The first time he checked his box, he had gold showing already!

Even though the creek water was cold, he was down there bright and early the next day, and every day that week. When potluck time rolled around the following Saturday, he had a nice-sized bottle of beautiful gold nuggets to show off! He worked there almost a month, until time for Dave McCracken’s weeklong dredging workshop for members, which he wanted to take part in. During that month, he had found 3 3/4 ounces of jewelry gold in his little spot!

After the workshop he felt more confident about working other areas; and since the gold was tapering off where he was, he moved on to another spot. He worked some of the larger creeks, and then on to the Klamath River, spending the entire summer, and part of the fall, dredging—and loving it! “The beauty, and the peace, of working in the river is spectacular!”

Philip is a hard worker when he’s dredging, and a little bashful, but he couldn’t help but make friends with a lot of the members. “They were all so helpful and friendly that I soon felt like they were family.” He soon found himself taking some time off for outings, with some of his new-found friends.

He had found that if he needed advice on where to dredge or how to get better recovery in a certain area, if he was having problems in any way, these friends would be right there to help. They respected his privacy, however, and that was one of the things he really liked about this group.

Then, as the days grew cooler and shorter, he began making plans to go back to work for the winter. As he prepared to leave town, he was enquiring about five and six inch dredges–it was hard to make up his mind just how much larger he wanted to go, but he was definitely going to have a larger dredge next year–this was FUN! “And, with the results I was getting with my four inch–Boy, what I might do with a six!” As he pulled out of town, he had a big smile on his face. He was already thinking of next year, and of all the gold and new adventures that awaited him.