Look for What the Oldtimers Missed (Part 2)
In "Look for What the Oldtimers Missed (Part 1)" (http://goldbedrockgold.blogspot.com/2009/01/look-for-what-oldtimers-missed-part-1.html) I established the framework for this post by introducing you to the premise that the oldtimers, as good as they were, did not get all the gold. Now let's get down to some specifics on where to look for what the oldtimers missed:
Good Gold From the Oldest Tailings
As you probably already know, I am no great fan of working old tailings. That is my personal choice. However, I've not only seen some very nice pieces of gold (including nuggets) recovered from both wet and dry placer tailings, but I've seen some miners pull significant amounts of gold from them as well.
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The thing to bear in mind here is that you want to work only the oldest tailings, those that represent the earliest efforts of the oldtimers. In their haste to get at the "easy pickings" placer gold, they often cast aside gold-bearing material you and I would be quite pleased with. A good example of what I am talking about here are the huge mounds of tailings in California's Motherlode country.
Quite often, these mounds represent the initial removal of river and stream rock by early miners who were trying to access bedrock. You should always sample them because they frequently contain very good gold values for miners who are patient, thorough, and willing to work a bit harder than normal.
(Cautionary Note: if you know for a fact that the old tailings you choose to work were left behind by Chinese miners, forget everything you just read above. In the old days the Chinese were not allowed real claims so they worked abandoned or "worked out" ground. I can tell you from personal experience that the Chinese were accomplished miners who were meticulous in their gold recovery work and left little gold behind after they re-worked an area. So if you come across old tailings the Chinese left behind, don't even bother breaking out a gold pan. The Celestials were VERY GOOD at what they did.)
Benefits of the "Grass is Always Greener" Syndrome
The "grass is always greener" syndrome afflicted many oldtimers and caused them to abandon perfectly good placer gold ground in favor of what lay over the next hill or around the next streambend. They could be pulling 2-3 ounces of gold per pan on a claim and then hear about a nearby strike where miners were recovering 4-6 ounces per pan. They'd pack up in a hurry and abandon the good ground they were already on.
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Or alternately, they'd hurriedly try and skim all the easy-to-get gold from their present location and then scoot for "richer ground," leaving behind a lot of gold that would take more time and effort to extract than they were willing to expend. This mentality, this "grass is always greener" syndrome of many oldtimers, provides great potential benefits for the modern miner who is able to identify the locations where this madness prevailed.
What sort of benefits? Good gold values my friend, very good gold values. Do these "hotspots" truly exist, these stretches of gold-bearing ground that were abandoned in favor of "better ground?" Yes they do. I know this for a fact. But, there are only two ways you will identify them: 1) lots of research, or 2) blind luck. In their book "Bacon and Beans From a Gold Pan," Jesse and Dot Coffey tell of just such a blind luck discovery when they found a narrow strip of rich, virgin ground that the oldtimers had left behind along the North Yuba River in California.
So it goes, my friend. So it goes. In my next post on this subject I'll provide more clues onlooking for what the oldtimers missed.
Be safe out there.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Bacon and Beans From a Gold Pan"
(c) J.R. 2009
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org