"Striking it Rich:" California Man Finds 9-Pound Nugget (Updated)

(The 9-troy pound gold nugget Jim. S. found on his Nevada County, California property.)

No Plans to Strike it Rich

A San Francisco Bay Area businessman had no plans to strike it rich in placer gold when he purchased a plot of land not far from the old California Gold Rush community of Nevada City. Still, Jim S. (last name withheld purposely) knew that Nevada County as a whole was extremely rich in gold back in the day and the old hydraulic rock tailings on his property were physical reminders of this fact.

What Jim didn’t know at this point (but would learn later) was that the oldtimers who had once worked his property just skimmed the rich surface deposits off, including hydraulicking exposed portions of ancient river gravels that would later be known as the “Great Blue Lead.” (Note: You can actually see the blue coloration of these gravels in the photo of Jim’s nugget. J.R.). Armed only with picks and shovels, the oldtimers figured that digging down to bedrock on the property would require too much time and effort to be worth their while.

3,800 Troy Ounces in the First Few Feet!

Jim pondered these facts and wondered. Eventually, however, both the high spot price of gold and Jim’s own curiosity got the better of him and he hired experts to survey and test his property for gold.The experts came armed with ground-penetrating radar (GPR), metal detectors, and heavy equipment in the form of a backhoe.

Gold Pans
Gold Panning Kits
Mining Equipment

After some preliminary digging and sampling in various spots the experts told Jim that a range of samples indicated his ground was averaging 3,800 troy ounces in the first few feet of ground! In case you didn’t already know, this is fabulously rich ground…the sort of ground most gold miners and treasure hunters (me included) dream of but will probably never see in their lifetimes.

(Note: In sample averaging like this it may be good to note that where one spot may indicate extremely high gold values another spot may indicate only slight gold values...that's why it's called averaging...so it doesn't necessarily mean that every bit of Jim's ground will hold 3,800 troy ounces. J.R.)

$110,000-$120,000 for Gold Content Alone

After the GPR indicated large anomalies along a certain section of Jim’s property the backhoe was brought in and excavation began. About 10 feet down (and about a foot above bedrock) metal detectors began going crazy and indicating large masses of non-ferrous metal directly below. One of these large masses of non-ferrous metal turned out to be the 9-troy pound (108 troy ounces) nugget shown above.

This nearly unbelievable nugget find is pretty much one solid mass of gold with a small amount of quartz still attached. It’s value? Well, at today’s spot gold prices the nugget is worth around $110,000-$120,000 for the gold content alone. For its specimen value however, this spectacular nugget may command as much as 5-10 times this amount from collectors or a museum.

"That Ain't All..."

That ain’t all, my friends. A 10-troy ounce and an 8-troy ounce nugget were found close by, indicating other large placer gold nuggets are probably waiting to be uncovered near bedrock. And we are just talking about large nuggets here, not about the smaller nuggets, coarse pieces, flakes, and fine gold that will provide the bulk of gold recovery values on Jim’s land.

The only possible fly in the ointment for Jim is getting the proper permits for conducting mining operations on the property. This may prove problematic for him since California has become notorious in small-scale mining circles for its anti-mining legislation and radical environmentalist special interest groups.

This find should show all of you that it’s still possible to “strike it rich” out there if Lady Luck smiles on you. But more than luck it’s having a piece of good ground, doing your research up front, and putting the right effort forward.

Good luck and good hunting to one and all!

If you liked this post, you may want to read: “Small-Scale and Recreational Mining ‘State of the Union’ (Part 4)”

© J.R. 2010

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


  1. Wow, he found some nice nuggets there. I just love reading about these kind of finds, makes me want to buy a metal detector. Just like you wrote, it really shows that you can still "strike it rich", if you're out there looking!

    Thanks for an awesome blog.

  2. Yep Daniel, this exceptional find shows that there's still hope for the rest of us! Thanks for commenting and my best to you. J.R.

  3. Yep Nightrider...WOW! is right!! J.R.

    Look at what has happened to dredging in California!?!?


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