Gold in New England: Maine

Like its neighboring state of New Hampshire, the State of Maine also provides placer gold mining opportunities for the recreational or small-scale gold miner. In Maine, placer gold occurs in streambed gravels and atop or near bedrock (as it does in many other locations in the United States). And, like New Hampshire, most of the gold in Maine is derived from ancient glacial detrital deposits, although some incidence of vein gold has been documented in the state.

Here is a list of placer gold areas in Maine:
Swift River and tributaries near Byron in Oxford and Franklin Counties
Sandy River from Madrid to New Sharon in Franklin County
South Branch of the Penobscot River near Sandy Bay, Bald Mountain, and Prentiss in Somerset County
Gold Brook near Chain of Ponds and Kibby in Franklin County
Gold Brook near Chase Stream in Somerset County
Gold Brook near Appleton Township in Somerset County
Nile Brook near Dallas and Rangeley in Franklin County
Kibby Stream near Kibby in Franklin County
St. Croix River near Baileyville in Washington County
Placer gold mining or panning activities in Maine do not require a permit as long as the following restrictions are understood and followed:
  • Mining activity is confined to sandy or graveled stream beds that are not heavily vegetated.
  • There can be no disturbance of stream banks.
  • Mining activity is limited to the use of gold pans, sluice boxes of less than 10 square feet, or suction dredges with a hose diameter of 4 inches or less.
  • Mining or dredging permits are not needed unless the equipment exceeds the above-listed sizes or dimensions.
 However, much of northern and eastern Maine, including the unorganized townships, is under the jurisdiction of a State agency called the Maine Land Use Regulatory Commission (LURC). The LURC applies greater restrictions on any type of recreational mining where motorized equipment is used. So you may want to check with this agency before you fire up your gold dredge in these areas. Additionally, do your research up front and avoid trespassing onto private property in your zeal to find those fines, flakes, and small nuggets.

So there you go. If you live in Maine and want to try your hand at a bit of prospecting, gold panning, or recreational mining there's nothing holding you back.

Be safe out there.

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2008