California State and US National Panning Championships
November 2014 by Don RobinsonOver 200 panners competed in this two-day event to decide who was the best of the best.
Plumas has been historically rich in gold because of its favorable geology. The Melones Fault trends north-south through the county and many rich gold-bearing districts lie along its course.
We chose this particular area because an old channel had run here at one point and had been heavily worked on top of a mountain hilltop. Erosion patterns cut deeply on each side, leaving the channel exposed. The erosion cut sharply, dropping into ravines far below.
Once a seam is found it can be traced for miles in either direction. While you are tracing a clay line, you are looking for indicators. The indicators that I look for are ironstone, hematite, different color clays intermingled with the clay line, and a very iron-rich, brown gritty soil.
The mine site consists of river gravels from an ancient channel covering over 20 acres, and the place is covered with very large river rock and small tree overgrowth.
When working fine gold placers with a drywasher, there are some natural variables that can be beneficial as well as others that can be a hindrance to achieving good recovery.
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!”
I am going to suggest dozens of ways you can increase suction power, dredge to greater depths, and improve recovery methods in your sluice box.
The Bawl Mill • Gemstones to Die For • The Dredge Report • Guinea Africa: Gold, Ebola, and A Monkey Barbecue • Geobotany: Plants Associated With Mineral Deposits • The Hunt for Remote Canyon Gold • Why Did This Silver Mine Close? Pt II • A Golden Summer • Melman on Gold & Silver • Mining Stock Quotes and Mineral & Metal Prices