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About Us » Writers » Tom Leftwich
Tom Leftwich
Tom is a country music entertainer, song writer, inventor, and gold miner with over thirty years experience working all aspects of placer and desert gold recovery. He was born and raised in Roanoke, Virginia, found his wife Fran in California, and raised a family of four—all gold miners. He spends every summer gold mining.

Tom says he doesn't have "gold fever," rather it's the adventure, fun and people associated with gold mining that he loves. He recently released his first book, "Gold Mining! Come Along for the Ride."

Tom winters near Edwards AFB where he spent a 53-year career where he enjoyed serving as an engineering consultant in the development of systems for testing experimental aircraft.

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Articles by Tom Leftwich
Shallow Water Crevicing Can Bring Big Rewards

Shallow water crevicing or sniping can produce gold if you’re persistent, a hard worker and lucky. It’s nice to have a snorkel, wet suit and goggles. The best practice for success, in my humble opinion, has always been to determine the best gold location and then figure out how to capture it.

May 2013 (Vol. 82, No. 9)
Pot Hole Gold

It was early in the 2008 season on the Mokelumne River near Pine Grove, California. Considering the potential for high water through the month of June, my wife Fran and I set our sights on investigating some of the pot holes in...

January 2012 (Vol. 81, No. 5)
Trying Out the New Highbanker

The 2011 gold season had finally got underway on the Middle Fork of the Feather River near Quincy, California. Cold weather and high water had pushed gold mining into mid-summer, but things were looking up.

February 2012 (Vol. 81, No. 6)
Fells Flat Gold

My wife Fran and I were brushing and repairing the road to our claim when we were interrupted by a fellow in a pretty yellow Jeep heading out to the local town of Quincy, California.

March 2012 (Vol. 81, No. 7)
Big Rock Gold

Fran, and I had made a practice of turning big boulders in gold producing areas to find some great rewards. Sometimes it was slow and frustrating, but in the end “We got the gold!”

August 2012 (Vol. 81, No. 12)
Rattler's Gold

Rick donned a pair of fiberglass shin guards that he normally wore dredging, just in case he uncovered the rattlesnake during his digging and rock moving. I wasn’t convinced they were going to provide enough protection.

January 2011 (Vol. 80, No. 5)
The Gold of Plumas de Oro

Their rewards were far better than they had anticipated, resulting in one of the best clean-ups they had ever seen.

March 2011 (Vol. 80, No. 7)
Fountain of Youth Gold

Across and downstream of our operation was a large pile of huge boulders. It was logical to think that water forces may have deposited gold in and around these boulders. We moved our dredge over and started pulling the rock pile apart.

May 2011 (Vol. 80, No. 9)
A Good Start

We split up in order to cover a larger area and found good color almost everywhere. The bedrock was shallow on both sides of the river, but the inside bend was where we concentrated our prospecting.

July 2011 (Vol. 80, No. 11)
Gold From Black Sand Tailings

The pile up on the small hill had to be a couple yards of black sand. I’m not one to ignore a little gold even if it is small in size—I have always believed that gold fever comes in all sizes.

October 2011 (Vol. 81, No. 2)
The Gold Of Horseshoe Bend

And we eventually reached gold. It was a winding crevice of beautiful white quartz lined with small nuggets and loaded with fine gold. There were flakes and small granular pieces—there had to be a hundred or more.

November 2011 (Vol. 81, No. 3)
Cold Water Gold

It was June 2011, and my wife Fran and I with Grandson Lucas and good friend Ernie Cruz were attempting to get to our gold mining claim on the Middle Fork of the Feather River about ten miles from Quincy, California. Rain had poured down in the previous few days and the road in a large number of low places was under water. Following two hours of slugging through the mud...

December 2011 (Vol. 81, No. 4)
Bucket Dredged Boulder Gold

The black sand was loaded with mercury from the river, but there wasn’t enough to pick up all the fines. We took out the amalgam and had to suction up the remaining fine gold.

January 2010 (Vol. 79, No. 5)
Highbanking and the House Rock

I hit bedrock at two feet and followed it down as it appeared that I was on the edge of a rib that ran with the river. This was beginning to look very promising and I was seeing some small gold—pieces and flakes—in the header of my sluice box.

June 2010 (Vol. 79, No. 10)
Beginner's Luck

Their first cleanup total was more gold than they had ever found. These guys were deliriously overjoyed with their good fortune.

July 2010 (Vol. 79, No. 11)
Highbanking on the Feather River

A number of visiting gold miners were quite impressed with our operation and the amount of gold we had recovered in only three hours. No one usually likes digging and slugging buckets all day long, but we actually began to enjoy it after a few good...

December 2010 (Vol. 80, No. 4)
Broomstick Gold

We found a fairly large boulder nestled in the shoreline close to the campsite within a well-known gold drop zone. I thought that it possibly was laying on bedrock, and could very likely hide some gold. We were going to move it and have a look.

June 2009 (Vol. 78, No. 10)
No Gravel, No Gold

It was the spring and I was planning on dredging the east bank of the Mokelumne River near the whitewater falls of Slaughter House Gulch just out of Pine Grove, California. The water was high and remained that way into July.

November 2009 (Vol 79, No. 3)
Dredging the Mokelumne

Gold mining adventures can begin in the most unusual fashion. This one started when the high water receding in May of 1999 disclosed that a tragedy had occurred somewhere upstream of Slaughterhouse Gulch on the north fork of the...

February 2008 (Vol. 77, No. 6)
Searching for Gold at Paradise Valley, Alaska

There are lots of stories about the big gold found in Alaska, but where does a prospector get the idea that it’s something the every day gold miner might get involved in? One must understand that the quest for gold in the mid-1800s brought...

March 2008 (Vol.77, No. 7)
The Mama John

You may reckon by the name that we’re talking about an outhouse for the old lady, but it’s actually the name I gave to a special contraption I put together so my wife didn’t have to work so hard moving big boulders.

April 2008 (Vol. 77, No. 8)
Horsetail Gold

The horsetail is a type of plant that grows in sandy soil usually very close to a water supply. Its uses are many as it has a high silica content that allegedly can be of some medicinal value, but its primary function during the gold rush days was for...

May 2008 (Vol. 77, No. 9)
The Big Gold Strike

Jack had been taking a break while Roy was dredging and it was time for Jack to take over. He grabbed his hookah and weight belt, slipped underwater and headed for Roy’s location.

September 2008 (Vol. 78, No. 1)
The Prevleator

Most developmental ideas grow from the reluctance of some individual to participate in hard work, so I can only say that I must think better in a reclining position.

April 2007 (Vol. 76, No.8)