Gold in the West: Idaho (Part 2)

Bonneville County

Over the years I’ve heard various reports concerning Bonneville County that the Snake River contains very fine placer gold at various locations. Remember, we are talking about flood or “flour” gold here, not flakes, “chunkers,” or nuggets.

The Mount Pisgah Mining District is located in the Caribou Range southeast of the community of Bone. Although the District wasn’t a big producer, nearly 18,000 troy ounces of placer gold was recovered there. This area may be a good spot to search for a small, localized or bypassed gold placer.

Camas County

Extremely rich placers were once worked in Camas County along Big Smoky Creek and its smaller counterpart, Little Smoky Creek. This whole region was a very active lode and placer gold mining area and some small-scale miners still work claims here. Included within this region is the Rosetta Mining District which was abandoned in the early 1900s.

Cassia County

Fairly large amounts (over 20,000 troy ounces) of placer gold have been recovered from selected bench gravels and gravel bars along the Snake River in Cassia County. This includes coarser material as well as the usual fine or flood gold.

Some hard rock mining also took place in the county near Black Pine Mountain but that included silver as well as gold. No placer gold production has been reported from Black Pine. However, old lode areas are always interesting places to explore, especially if you’re a nugget or ore hunter. You might try the Burley area as well.

Word has it that the Snake River from the American Falls Dam for a considerable distance downstream is chock full of very fine or micron-sized gold particles (some of this stuff is hard to see with the naked eye…that’s how small it is). In the old days the area was pretty much left to Chinese miners because they seemed to be the only ones with enough patience to work and recover this sort of auriferous material.

(Note: Very good returns can be had in this area by experienced, in-the-know miners using fine gold recovery systems like mini-sluices, “poop tubes,” and “Blue Bowl” type concentrators. Some of the figures for daily recovery I’ve heard through the mining grapevine include ½-1 ¾ troy ounces per day, but I can't verify this 100%. Also, this sort of ground is typically hard to work and the recovery process is painstaking and time-intensive. All that said however, if I were in the area I'd definitely be looking into the possibilities [that's a hint, by the way] J.R.)

That’s it for this round but there’ll be more to come. Good luck and be safe out there.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: “Gold in the West: Idaho (Part 1)

© J.R. 2010

Questions? E-mail me at