California: The Land of Big Nuggets—Part I
December 2017 by Chris Ralph
The nugget sat there in plain sight, though it was covered in dirt, while hundreds of people had passed that way every day.
Over the years, I've noticed a pattern in the type of rocks associated with the best gold deposits in Midwestern glacial gravel.
After getting all the gear together we headed up the old road that led us to an old ground sluice site. George and Kaleb were using lightweight VLF (very low frequency) detectors. I carried a newer technology unit that is just a tad coil-heavy in the front.
One of the first minerals most prospectors learn to recognize is quartz, because, in the right circumstances, it can be an excellent indicator mineral for prospectors. Quartz is common, easy to identify, and is often associated with gold and other valuable metal deposits.
I love to dry wash old nugget patches found by detector operators, and I have found my fair share of gold dry washing those areas. I have also found a few nuggets using a detector on the bedrock exposed by dry washing the patches.
...this county contained some of the richest placer ground found in all of California and still produces some pretty impressive finds to this day.
There is a unique anticipation that comes with waking in gold country. The long early morning rays bring warmth after a cold night. Restless nights allow thoughts of gold hidden in the ground for too long.
I will have to admit, I actually was brought to tears just thinking about what I had just done. I knew the gold was there, but I never thought I would be so fortunate to find such a prize nugget.
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