Let us help you recover valuable metals. 888-437-1187

Magazine

Prospecting & Detecting

Twenty Minutes on a Five-inch Dredge

As the owner of a small mining shop in Oregon, I see a lot of equipment. Dredges come and dredges go. Sometimes they go to great places like Nome, Alaska or even overseas. People come back and tell of their great finds or failures, all of which are fascinating to an avid prospector stuck behind the counter instead of out mining every weekend. Don’t get me wrong—being a father to my five-year-old son makes me feel retired at the age of 41, even if my bank account assures me I am not! My mining trips might be a lot shorter these days, but it doesn’t take long to have a great time as I recently found out on the South Umpqua in Myrtle Creek.

As luck would have it, I consigned a beautiful five-inch, twin-engine Proline dredge from a great family of miners getting on in years. Because of age and new legislation they recently decided to spend their golden years fishing before that sport is banned also. I guess I can’t blame them.

I have to admit, I was shocked and grateful when they dropped off their last piece of equipment at the store. This machine was beautiful. Next came the hard part—selling a dredge when people are  dumping equipment for cheap. I did have a good price on it so I remained optimistic . I put it on dollies and rolled it in and out of our Dredge in action.store every day for a month. Then I got the best call ever. Two customers who became friends were on the gold big time, and a three-inch dredge just wasn’t cutting it. They asked if they could try it before they buy it. At this point I really thought the sale was over; however, I said I would ask.

After talking it over with my wife, we decided that as long as I stayed with the dredge it wasn’t an unreasonable request. I shot a call to the to the owner with the request to take the dredge to the buyer and stay there. To my total surprise he said yes.

“If they run that thing, they will buy it!” he said. And he was right!

Of course the next call was great. They agreed to pick me up that day, pay for my camping and bring me back if they liked the dredge. I was going mining!

We arrived in Myrtle Creek that evening, tired from our drive from Salem, but excited. I was met with the “oohs” and “ahs” one would expect from miners using three-inch dredges. Let me just say when it comes to moving dirt, 2 threes does not add up to six! Or even five!

The next morning we were at the hole. I was impressed at the amount of work done in two weeks of mining, but it was clear they had a long way to go. We employed the help of some fellow miners and got the “green goblin,” as they called it, into the water. Both Hondas fired on the first pull. It was awesome, and that thing came alive! Our diver gave the thumbs up and disappeared for two hours. I will never forget the amount of material coming over the sluice. I have worked a lot of four-inch and smaller equipment—this was much different.

When our diver finally came up, he looked at me and said, “You just sold a dredge. Want to try it out?”

Well, I did want to try it out. Since the water was warm, I stuck the mask on my face, donned the weight belt, grabbed that nozzle and sank out of sight. The first thing I realized was this was not a toy—this thing had power and I needed to really pay attention. I got into position, took a deep breath, and pushed that monster into the hard pack. Before I even got close, massive amounts of rock and gravel were headed my way, and fast!

I could feel slight panic as football-sized rocks glided smoothly into the hose, as did my hand suddenly. Pulling free, I sucked the regulator out of my mask and had to surface. It was time to regroup. Back down I went and I was ready. I got into a nice, even, back and forth motion, and finally relaxed. I relaxed enough to get my hand smashed, sucked in, and lost my regulator again. After a refreshing gulp of South Umpqua water, I went back Dredging. for the final beating. I was getting better, but I was tired.

The third loss of my regulator was too much and I came up. I was only down for twenty minutes and I was totally beat. We were finished for the day and went back to camp.

The portion of the South Umpqua we were on does not have much overburden. Gold was found on top of a hard pack layer (false bedrock), with additional gold and larger pieces on the bedrock. Jim and Kevin have been averaging between one-quarter and one-half ounce per day with the 5-inch dredge, with a few days of over a half-ounce mixed in.

Dredging is hard work, and I’ll be back there shortly to take them up on their offer to pay for my camping and give me a 20% cut in exchange for labor.

Myrtle Creek had a great summer festival that night; I highly recommend checking it out. The RV park was clean and the camp hosts were great people. I want to thank everyone in the community for a great time. The best part is that I get to go back for another week!
© ICMJ's Prospecting and Mining Journal, CMJ Inc.
Next Article »« Previous Article

Add a Comment

Additional articles that might interest you...

The PIGMI—a DIY Crevice Tool


I’ve had great success using it to gather gold from crevices. I’d like to share the design with all of you gold miners reading this article and hope that you get as much satisfaction building and using it as I did.

Carr Fire Gold


After burning more than 350 square miles, the Carr Fire near Redding, California, was finally out. Luckily our home was spared, and I had the opportunity to go metal detecting in burned areas previously too overgrown to access.

Dredging Backwards?


Before I tell you what dredging backwards is, I’ll tell you why my team and I decided to give this very unconventional dredging method a try.

Treasure Hunters Challenge FBI Over Dig for Civil War Gold


The father-son duo spent years combing this bit of Pennsylvania wilderness with high-end metal detectors, drills and other tools to prospect for a fabled cache of Civil War gold.

Comments on Gold Rush and Bering Sea Gold Series


The 316 Mining Company has not been all that successful, but does not ever seem to learn from their past mistakes.

Beach Mining for Placer Gold


What I saw was a beach area that was just completely covered in black sand. Rubbing my hands close together like a kid in a candy store, I could not wait to get set up.

Trip to “The Swamp” on Behalf of Small Miners


Besides the EPA issue, our major priority is to work on the proposed amendment to the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act (S 145), a bill proposed in the Senate by US Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada).

Subscription Required:
The Bawl Mill   • Ask the Experts   • Ask the Experts   • Ask the Experts   • Greenstone and Gold   • The Long Road to Gold Point, Nevada   • What, Where and How for the New Prospector   • Proper Spacing of Placer Sample Sites   • Hunches, Choices and Guesses   • 12-Year-Old Unearths Large Diamond   • Time for a New Approach: Detecting Float Gold   • Carissa Gold Mine Comes Back to Life   • Gold in Beatty, Nevada   • Cripple Creek Gold Mine Exceeding Expectations   • Melman on Gold & Silver   • Mining Stock Quotes and Mineral & Metal Prices

Free:
Legislative and Regulatory Update   • Silver Bull Resources Sees Bright Future for Silver & Zinc

Advertisements

Garrett Electronics - trusted by real miners & prospectors!
Precious Metals Recovery plants and equipment
Fighting to keep public lands open to the public
Specializing in the processing of precious metal ores!
Watch prospecting shows on your computer right now
Free Online Sample Issue