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About Us » Writers » Don Robinson
Don Robinson (Senior Writer)
Don has over thirty years of full time mining, including underground and open pit placers, and hardrock under his belt. During these years, he served as a consultant, manager and superintendent of various projects, and he was also an assayer for Goldfields, Nevada. He has worked with multiple government agencies dealing with all aspects of mining.

Don co-founded the Mother Lode Goldhounds, a California non-profit minerals education corporation, serving as its president for many years. He’s continually involved in mining exploration and education. Don is also a California licensed blaster.

Don's website: www.donsgoldworld.com

Email Don Robinson

Articles by Don Robinson
Prospecting Hard Rock

We panned out maybe three gold pans of the material and we were shocked at the gold that was there. This rock appeared to be rich.

March 2014 (Vol. 83, No. 7)
Continuing Hard Rock Exploration

We had been picking away at it, but the going was mightly slow. Why not use some explosives to advance a little quicker?

April 2014 (Vol. 83, No. 8)
Gully Prospecting and Mining

This article is about our recent gold prospecting adventure, which has yielded over 20 ounces of specimen gold—with more to come.

September 2014 (Vol. 84, No. 1)
Green Valley Reconnaissance

During this trip we found enough gold to make us want to come back, even with the punishment of a very long, tough hike.

January 2013 (Vol. 82, No. 5)
Research and Fieldwork Yield Some Promising Gold

A week later, a small team of us hit it again, and this time the gold really showed up.

October 2013 (Vol. 83, No. 2)
Following Clues to a Hidden Gold Deposit

Many years ago I was in the American Canyon. I remembered a few details about a placer deposit there, so we decided to make a trip down and re-check some of these old workings.

March 2012 (Vol. 81, No. 7)
Following Clues to a Lost Gold Deposit—The Northern Extension of the Cedarberg

Last month, in “Following Clues to a Hidden Gold Deposit,” I ended the article with the direction that we were on the hunt! We were getting prepared and ready to roll with our detectors, then snow came, and lots of it. We had already found the seam diggings mine on the mountainside in wild, rough brush and trees. It had been well hidden.

April 2012 (Vol. 81, No. 8)
Following Clues to an Old Mill and Vein Strike

My last update on this adventure was in the April 2012 issue and involved our search for the northern extension of the Cedarberg Mine. At that time we had found it and we were in the process of returning for some detecting when Mother Nature struck with a late rain and snow storm.

August 2012 (Vol. 81, No. 12)
Wild and Scenic River Prospecting—North Fork of the American River

Today it is getting tougher and tougher to find a place to prospect. There is one significant haven left for the small miner...

September 2012 (Vol. 82, No. 1)
Prospecting for Gold at Green Valley

In October, five of us decided to take an exploration trip into an area called Green Valley. This was perhaps ten miles upstream from where we had gone in September and the difficulty was access. One would think that based on the name it was an easily accessible area not far from a nearby town. This couldn’t be more wrong.

December 2012 (Vol. 82, No. 4)
Rediscovering Placerville, California

Several areas came to mind, but each was eliminated for one reason or another. One that seemed to be hanging on was the old historic mining town called Placerville.

February 2011 (Vol. 80, No. 6)
Rediscovering Placerville, California Part II

To get to the gold, the miners had to remove the shale pieces and stack them on the sides while sluicing the remaining material through their boxes.

March 2011 (Vol. 80, No. 7)
Prospecting Underground: Use Caution

In underground placer work, the contact point of the bedrock tunnel and the gravel is a very weak point and always has to be timbered. The bedrock here is thin, fractured, and the gravels loose from many years of oxidizing.

April 2011 (Vol. 80, No. 8)
Fault Zones and Prospects

As we walked back we were just reaching the point of where the faulting should be and there, covered with deep grass, was very faint evidence of an old road going up the mountainside! What was that old road doing there?

June 2011 (Vol. 80, No. 10)
So Where's The Gold?

...we finally got back to this exploration effort. The old works there were up above the old camp, which was very significant in size.

August 2011 (Vol. 80, No. 12)
Gold in the Slate Creek Basin

In some areas these channels were thousands of feet wide, and just figuring out where you are in some of these diggings is a challenge.

September 2011 (Vol. 81, No. 1)
Prospecting on the North Yuba

The research I did for “Gold in the Slate Creek Basin” (September 2011 issue) found me chasing a channel out of the LaPorte territory headed towards the old mining town of Brandy City, California.

December 2011 (Vol. 81, No. 4)
Prospecting for Hard Rock Gold

After several hours we finally found some old home sites that had completely collapsed, and the only items remaining were old boards and metal piping. Finding the old house sites was a good thing, but the old mines and vein systems were still...

March 2010 (Vol. 79, No. 7)
Prospecting for Hardrock Gold - Part II

I finally managed to return to this exploration effort. There was still snow on the ground on the north side of the mountain where I started, but I knew the south side was likely melted and gold fever bit too hard to stay inside any longer.

April 2010 (Vol. 79, No. 8)
Prospecting for Hardrock Gold - "Eureka!" (Part III)

A quartz piece was rolled over and there it was, staring right at us—beautiful, coarse gold coming right out of the quartz rock. It was almost the size of a softball, and it looked like over one quarter of it had gold throughout!

May 2010 (Vol. 79, No. 9)
Hardrock Prospecting in El Dorado County, California

Three times we went back and finally found a clue. There was an old air shaft not far from the trail!

September 2010 (Vol. 80, No. 1)
Detectors Versus Pans

Mike scored the best with a total of one-half ounce of gold nuggets. Tom, Brian and Greg each had pieces in the one and a half pennyweight range. The rest of us had small gold and nothing like these three.

November 2010 (Vol. 80, No. 3)
So, Where's The Gold?—Finding Gold Detectors Miss

We decided to run a detector over each piece. If we got a decent signal we placed the piece into a high-grade pile and the rest went into another pile to be worked on later. This high-grade pile wasn’t that large—maybe 25 pounds...

December 2010 (Vol. 80, No. 4)
Lost Canyon

These are the basic gold sampling tools we used on this exploration trip.The name makes you wonder, “Just how remote is this place?” It’s in the Tahoe National Forest and the Canada Hill Mining District, an area of steeply cut canyons that averages about 5,000 feet in elevation.

February 2009 (Vol. 78, No. 6)
The Red Point Mine

Map of the Red Point Mine, California.This article is about the Red Point Mine, which was a buried intervolcanic channel and a very rich one.

March 2009 (Vol. 78, No. 7)
Steven's Trail and the North Fork of the American

TOC Steven's TrailWhat were we doing going down a 4.5 mile trail to a cold river where there was no guarantee of anything except some ice and maybe cold hands and feet? First it seemed our winter was going to be a drought, and then all that reversed.

April 2009 (Vol. 78, No. 8)
Miner's Cabin—Red Shack Territory

As we approached the river the view was outstanding and the sight was encouraging. A ravine coming down on the right side had been worked heavily, with rock piled back on each side. That surely meant there was gold somewhere close.

June 2009 (Vol. 78, No. 10)
The Last Chance Mining District

With all of the erosion patterns wearing away the channels down into the North Fork of the Middle Fork, we assumed placer gold was still available in the river. The question became: How do we get down the 1,600-foot elevation drop to reach the river?

August 2009 (Vol. 78, No. 12)
South Yuba River Recreational Area

Within 30 minutes, a nice, coarse nugget popped up right in the gold pan, and the rush was on! We worked hard for the entire day. Though some pans were not as good as others, the gold was good enough to...

September 2009 (Vol. 79, No. 1)
Shirttail Creek

Shirttail was worked heavily in the old mining years, but they didn’t clean it out. Present day prospectors and dredgers have done well, especially as Shirttail gets closer to the North Fork of the American.

December 2009 (Vol. 79, No. 4)
Exploring La Trinidad Mine

This was a trail for a mountain goat. It was wide enough for a person to travel, clear enough except for lots of broken shale, but steep, really steep. I was beginning to question my sanity as the eight of us dropped almost 1,200 feet down the mountainside in order to locate La Trinidad Mine. Just as it seemed we might have missed it, there it was in all its glory.

January 2008 (Vol.77, No. 5)
Gold at Ponderosa

The winter cold and snow bring with it an entirely different approach to prospecting and mining. Northern California was buried with a ferocious storm in late December and early January that knocked out power for many small towns and buried the...

February 2008 (Vol. 77, No. 6)
Relocating A Historic Vein

Opportunities exist in both hardrock and placer. Production costs to operate a small placer mining project are a lot less than for a hardrock mine. Underground placers are a different story, but generally, recovering placer gold takes...

April 2008 (Vol. 77, No. 8)
Slug Gulch

Slug Gulch. What a name. It originates back into the 1860s or so. The question is whether it was referring to the snail-like creature or to large pieces of gold. The name alone is enough for any prospector to consider checking the area out.

June 2008 (Vol. 77, No. 10)
The Vore Mine

The price of gold has certainly raised some eyebrows and has prompted some new prospectors onto the scene. They are faced with the same problem that we old timers have—where to find the gold.

July 2008 (Vol. 77, No. 11)
Pickering Bar Revisited

panning at Pickering Bar, CaliforniaPickering Bar on the North Fork of the American River is a fascinating place. It’s remote, taking almost two hours to get there from the small mining town of Iowa Hill, which is in Placer County, California.

August 2008 (Vol. 77, No. 12)
Hidden Treasure Mine—Foresthill Divide, California

One of the greatest and richest underground placer mines of California was the Hidden Treasure Mine of Placer County.

September 2008 (Vol. 78, No. 1)
California State Open and US National Gold Panning Championships

One hundred eighty-six panners went through a wild and woolly two days (August 30 & 31 in Foresthill, Calif.) to determine who had the bragging rights of being the best—at least for one year!

October 2008 (Vol. 78, No. 2)
Barnes Store and Yankee Jims

...there was much speculation about what happened to Yankee Jim after he sold his claims and moved away. Rumors had it that he was involved in many underhanded activities, including arson at several different town sites.

November 2008 (Vol. 78, No. 3)
Working on the Bear River

Further downstream our motorized equipment was in play. One power sluice was going a lot, with a crew of four getting familiar with the equipment and working hard to create a holding pond to prohibit the muddy water and the...

January 2007 (Vol. 76, No. 5)
Doc Livingston

Charles “Doc” Livingston was born September 28, 1920, in Veve, Indiana. At the ripe old age of 13, he moved to a bustling mining town called Iowa Hill, in Placer County, California. For the next 64 years he worked in, around, or out of the historic mining town.

February 2007 (Vol. 76, No.6)
Prospecting on Pickering Bar

On Saturday, January 27, 2007, six of us began a trip to Pickering Bar on the North Fork of the American River. It was 7:30 am and we had our engines running to begin the first leg of our two and a half hour trip to get there.

March 2007 (Vol. 76, No. 7)
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (P.L. 90-542, as Amended)

Just about all of us have heard the term “Wild and Scenic Rivers,” and we’ve likely been on one or several of them in our prospecting ventures. More than once someone has said to me “...but that’s a wild and scenic river.” My first question has always been, “What part of the system is it? Is it classified wild, scenic or recreational?”

April 2007 (Vol. 76, No.8)
Selling Your Gold—Where To Start

I don’t know of any miner or prospector who really wants to sell their gold. But the income might be needed to keep the mine going, buy new equipment, take a vacation or put food on the table. Whatever the reason, where does a person start?

May 2007 (Vol.76, No.9)
San Francisco Mint and US Gold Reserves

In 1717, Sir Isaac Newton, Master of the British Mint, established a fixed price for gold that was equivalent to around US$20.00 per ounce. This price was for bullion gold, refined to a purity of twenty-two karats (.917 fine).

June 2007 (Vol.76, No.10)
The Mountain Gate Mine

The Foresthill Divide in Placer County, California, has underneath its present surface a multitude of buried river channels, most of which paid enormously well in the Gold Rush years of 1850 to 1890.

July 2007 (Vol. 76, No. 11)
Prospecting For Gold—The Osborne/Herman Hardrock Mine

We’re always out there looking, checking, researching and trying to locate a new prospect or deposit. It’s always a question as to where to start. Some days we head down to the river to do some panning, sluicing or dredging.

August 2007 (Vol. 76, No. 12)
The American Hill Mine

In the high country of the Tahoe National Forest is 160 acres of a patented mining claim dating back to its origin around 1853. This is well above the historic mining town of Michigan Bluff and past Deadwood—an old mining town...

September 2007 (Vol. 77, No. 1)
Dawson City and the World Gold Panning Championships

Each year the World Gold Panning Association (WGPA) holds a world championship in one of the twenty countries that are members.  The decision as to where to hold each championship involves many factors...

November 2007 (Vol. 77, No. 3)
Searching for a Paying Hardrock Deposit

Quartz float rock is always intriguing. Where is the vein it came from if it’s still in existence, and is it carrying some gold? Because of the possibility of the quartz carrying some color, we are always looking, checking, detecting, crushing, assaying...

December 2007 (Vol 77, No. 4)
Prospecting in Northern Sierra County, California

From the mid-1850s and even into the early 1900s, Northern Sierra County boomed with mining activity. This area was flooded with miners, establishing such towns as LaPorte, Gibsonville, Spanish Flat, Whisky Diggings...

November 2006 (Vol. 76, No. 3)
Underground at Yankee Jim's

In 1849, the story spreading around the Barnes Store (on the North Fork of the American near Colfax, California) was about some rich diggings being found up in the hills going east, and not very far up the ridge according to some accounts.

June 2003 (Vol. 72, No. 10)
Idaho-Maryland Mine—History Restarted

It was late October 1850, and, as the story goes, George McKnight was rushing along trying to round up his cows when he stumbled. He was not a happy man as he kicked the fist-sized rock in disgust. The disgust changed quickly to interest...

August 2003 (Vol. 72, No. 12)
Picks & Pans: Eureka! We Struck It Again

About a half-hour after everything got underway, James came back to Harley, whispering, “Harley, you’re not going to believe this, but I just detected a vein with gold, lots of gold...I mean lots of gold. You’ve got to come and see this.”

April 2002 (Vol. 71, No. 8)
The Swift Shore Mine 1862—Present

Michigan Bluff is an old mining town dating back to the 1850s. It is located in Placer County, about 25 miles northeast of Auburn, just past the town of Foresthill. It sits on the very edge of a mountain, with the Middle Fork of the American River flowing about 1200 feet lower at the bottom of the canyon.

March 2001 (Vol. 70, No. 7)
Gold Tellurides: Tellurium, an Assay Impurity

What is a gold telluride? Simply put, it is a chemical combination of gold, silver and tellurium...

May 2001 (Vol. 70, No. 9)