Look for What the Oldtimers Missed (Part 3)


More on the Subject of Old Tailings

Ive pointed out elsewhere that certain types of the oldest mine tailings can prove profitable to work. To substantiate this premise, my friend and fellow miner Greg Gomes wrote and had this to say:

"Just read your 'What they missed blog' --just great!-- My partner and I have used that theory on a place up near (location removed, J.R.), Ca. We have done so well that we have revisited that site over a dozen times this winter. The dredging piles and miners piles still have a great abundance of gold still locked in the small fissures and pock holes in the stones. Even the exposed quartz veins still yield a good abundance of micro gold. I shall be posting pictures of our recent finds next week."

Greg and his partner are experienced miners who work various locations in the California Motherlode Region and can be found out in the field nearly every chance they get. So if you had any doubts about the veracity of my advice regarding oldtimers' tailings, you can rest assured that Greg is perfectly capable of backing up my claims on the subject. Not only is he a stand-up guy, but he reflects the very best of what it means to be a gold miner. He has done his research, paid his dues, and knows his stuff.

If you'd like to speak to Greg, read about his mining adventures with his pard, or view his latest mining photos from the field, please check out his website, y'Ore Placer Mine at:


Please note that I have also placed a link to Greg's homepage on the right sidebar of this page under the "Recommended Links" list.

Old Claim Lines or "Abutments"

OK, let's get back to the task at hand. Another location or situation for finding what the oldtimers missed are old claim lines or what were once known as "claim abutments." An abutment is simply a strip of ground that borders the separation line between two claims.

In the old days (particularly during the California Gold Rush of 1849-1855) most claims were composed of a certain length of gold-bearing stream including its center, as well as the immediate stream bank(s) behind it. Claims were delineated by various sorts of markers, including walls of rock, crude posts, flags (torn pieces of cloth tied to sticks), or a hundred other ways of indicating the limit of one claim and the beginning of another.

Abutments along claim lines came about because the oldtimers were reluctant to dig too close to the edge of their own claim for fear they might accidentally "jump" their neighbor's claim. This could cause problems, often serious problems. So most miners dug as close to the edge of their own claim as they thought reasonable but they avoided claim demarcation lines by leaving a strip of ground that served as a "cushion" between claims.
Strips of Untouched Gold Ground

These strips of untouched gold ground or abutments could vary in width from 6 or 8 inches on up to 2 or 3 feet or more. Find one of these oldtimer claim abutments and you will definitely be in business my friend. You'll probably find more placer gold in one day than you could find in a year of earnest effort drywashing, sluicing, highbanking, or even dredging, for that matter.

Have others found these sorts of abutments? Yes, they have. In fact, I know of numerous instances where old claim abutments produced significant amounts of gold for their lucky finders. Have I ever found one? Hmmmmm...some things are better left unsaid! Either way, the trick to finding these paydirt strips is again, good research or plain old blind luck. Take your pick.

That's it for now. I'll continue with the subject of finding what the old timers missed in my next post.

Take care out there.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Get More Gold by Getting Off the Beaten Path"

(c) J.R. 2009

Questions? E-mail me at jr872vt90@yahoo.com