California's Main Gold-Bearing Rivers, Part 2
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In my previous post on this subject I covered California's main gold-bearing rivers from the American River south. In this post I'll outline Northern California's main auriferous streams:
Northern Motherlode Region
North Fork of the American River: The North Fork of the American represents the beginning of California's Northern Motherlode Region (in the old days, the "Northern Mines"). Like the other forks of the American, the North Fork was extremely rich placer ground during the Gold Rush and staggering amounts of gold were removed from its bars, benches, and bedrock. The American's North Fork continues to be worked by small-scale placer miners and is a favorite region for many suction dredgers and underwater gold "snipers."
Bear River: Although the Bear River was overshadowed by its larger cousins (the American and the Yuba), it produced significant amounts of fine to moderately coarse gold over the years. The Bear may hold some surprises for enterprising recreational miners who don't mind recovering lots of fine gold, with a few small nuggets occasionally thrown into the mix.
Yuba River: If I had to choose what I thought represents the most beautiful gold-bearing river in California it would be the Yuba and its forks (middle, north, and south), hands down. I am partial to the North Fork of the Yuba and have worked it on and off for nearly 30 years (most recently in June of 2008). I have also spent a bit of time along the South Fork as well. The entire Yuba watershed area was fabulously rich in placer gold in the old days and still presents many opportunities for good gold recovery for dredgers, highbankers, sluicers, and gold "snipers." I love the Yuba...what else can I say?
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Feather River: The Feather and its Forks are in Butte County but remain close enough to Sacramento and the Yuba to be considered part of the "Northern Mines." Some of the most intensive and extensive placer mining and large-scale dredging operations took place along the Feather, with very large amounts of gold recovered from these. Many local miners still work the Feather and it's worth checking out if you are in the area.
Important Reminders and Suggestions
Again, I must remind you that with spot gold prices at their current highs, there are few open areas available in the Motherlode Region (especially the Northern Motherlode). Most of the good spots have been claimed up and are either being worked, leased, or being held back for claim sale "speculation" (you can also translate this as "claim scams" in some instances).
For instance, last June I spent a full day driving along and scouting out most of the North Yuba and part of the South Yuba (and their tributaries) and I was dismayed by the lack of open areas to mine, including areas that 20 years ago that were wide open to the public. So be aware of this fact.
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If want to do some "serious" mining in the Northern Motherlode in the 2009 season, I suggest you think about leasing a claim if you don't already own one or don't have some sort of connection or "in" with local miners. The few public areas open to recreational or small-scale placer miners in the Northern Motherlode are usually crowded and, to a great extent, have been worked over pretty hard.
I'll cover Northern California's gold-bearing rivers in my final post on this subject. Until then, take care and good luck to you!
If you liked this post you may want to read: "California's Main Gold-Bearing Rivers, Part 1"
(c) J.R. 2009
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