10 Tips for Smart Miners: Network with the Locals

(Beautiful downtown Downieville, California. The locals in old mining communities like this can be a great asset to you.)

Tip Number 8. Network with the Locals.

If you're one of those rare and lucky miners whose placer gold recovery efforts take place "close to home," then the message contained in this post is probably redundant. After all, you yourself are a local.

Gold Prospecting and Mining Tips

Who are locals? They are those folks who live, work, or mine in those gold-bearing locations that you typically drive long distances to reach and may only visit periodically. They are the shop, store, and restaurant owners as well as the local real estate agents, librarians, and "hangers-on" that either mine themselves when they can or have friends, relatives, and acquaintances that do.

A Source of Valuable and Up-to-Date Information

What possible value are these folks to you as a small-scale or recreational miner? Plenty my friend, plenty.

They can be a source of valuable and up-to-date information on:
  • Hidden "hot" spots
  • Open or public mining areas
  • Claim availability
  • Significant local gold recoveries
  • Recent finds
  • Where to mine locally
  • What equipment works best in a given locale
  • Stream or wash conditions
  • Public and private property

  • Camping spots
  • Old mining camps and sites
  • Who else to talk to
Get the idea? And this is only a partial list of the types of information locals can provide you.

Another Type of "Gold"

The overall value of this sort of information should not be underestimated, especially if you are intending to work a new area or location without much prior knowledge of that region. Not only can this sort of information cut down on the time it takes to climb a new "learning curve," but it can also make a real difference in the amount of gold you recover.

Wolverine Boots
Dickies Work Clothes

This last point is what it's all about, right? If you have a choice between bringing back a gram or two of placer gold versus an ounce or two, which will it be? And if locals can help you achieve the latter, then you best be viewing them and the information they can provide as another type of "gold."

Courtesy, Patience, and the Capacity to Listen

Does this mean that each and every local person, miner or otherwise, is going to jump at the chance to respond to your queries or go out of his or her way to help you out? No, it doesn't. There are always those few (mostly local miners who are wary for obvious reasons) who will snub you or say they know nothing.

On the flip side, it's been my experience over the past three decades as a small-scale miner that the great majority of local folks WILL go out of their way to help you out, tell you what they know or if they don't, turn you on to others who do. To mine this sort of valuable information requires only three things: courtesy, patience, and the capacity to listen.

Tread Softly and Do the Right Thing

One of the absolute worst things you could do (as a miner and as a person) is to cop an attitude and strut around treating the locals in a given mining area with disdain, arrogance, and discourtesy. To do so is not only stupid and self-destructive, it will ensure that you never gain any local or "inside" knowledge of an area.

So tread softly around locals and do the right thing the right way. The potential benefits far outweigh any momentary ego boost you might get from playing the role of the big shot or arrogant, "I'm better than everyone else" horse's ass.

Like the Good Book says, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Or to put it more bluntly,
you'll catch lots more flies with honey than you will with vinegar.

Take care out there.

(c) J.R. 2010

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