Thinking Outside The Creek
March 2015 by Shannon PoeImagine for a minute the year is 1850. You’ve read and heard that gold was discovered in California and the creeks are so rich you can just scoop it up with your hands.
Looking around, I could tell that this was an old hand-digging. As I walked around the perimeter of the digging I could see shovel and pick marks scratched on the clean, hard clay and bedrock.
On my weekends off I spent many hours dredging the Second Broad River from Cane Creek Road up to the headwaters. I used a three-inch dredge with air and graduated to a five-inch with air.
After removing about six inches of dirt and cobbles, the sound was a bit more recognizable. I was now confident that there was a definite target and not just a ground noise.
Then I came to a section of recently exposed gravel that looked unworked. Water seeped out all around, making the ground beneath a sea of slick mud.
Once again the coil was put over the spot but the target was in the pile now. I pinpointed, grabbed a handful of dirt and began sprinkling it over the coil until I heard that mild thud.
Some of the wire forms are strange and fantastic, with wires sticking out in twisted, seemingly random directions. Others have deformed crystals and all of them have significant value to collectors.
I figured it would be quite conservative of me to shoot for about four ounces of gold instead of the twelve ounces I had found in 2013.
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