Miners' Homework Pays Off
(Blackberry "maze" near the mine site; Ken with one of the old bottles found near the mine entrance.)
Looking to Get an Edge
You’ve heard me stress a number of times in “Bedrock Dreams” the importance of doing your “homework” when it comes to increasing your overall mining knowledge and to enable you to locate good gold ground that may be off the beaten track or forgotten with time. Two California gold miners I hold a great deal of respect for, Greg Gomes and his “pard” Ken Stewart, are prime examples of this principle in action.
Greg and Ken are no strangers to small-scale placer mining and, to a more limited extent, lode mining. They’ve been around the block, have a great deal of experience, and more importantly, are always looking to get an edge in their mining endeavors.
Lately the guys have been focusing their mining efforts in a famous area of the southern Motherlode region. Here is what Greg has to say about their initial efforts:
“I Googled This Area for Months”
“I Googled this area for months in my spare time looking for more remote, out-of-the-way areas. With a little research Ken and I found an area that was once active around the late 1800s through 1915. We determined this date from a bottle we found inside a very old hard-rock mine that still had some support timbers present. This old mine followed a gold-bearing quartz seam.”
“Getting to this place was quite a physical expedition. But what gave its location away was the presence of quartz chips in a creek about 100 yards from this spot. Like the old-time prospectors, we sampled and panned the creek until we found the end to the quartz chips. Then we started to work into the hillside tracing the chips which subsequently led us to many old tailing piles that were completely covered by berry bushes.”
"We Found Pyrite Crystals and…GOLD!"
“From there we were finally able to uncover the entrance to the mine which was nearly covered with downed trees, bushes, thorns, and good old Mother Earth. We wiggled inside the mine and took some samples of the ore spills (float). When we crushed and panned them later on we found a lot of pyrite crystals and small slivers of .......GOLD! YEE-HAW!”
“Next to the mine almost fully exposed, Ken picked out an old bottle with an iron pontiled base. I also found an old medicine bottle with the top attached buried in about 3" of dirt. Both bottles were in great condition and also provided the information that we needed to confirm that I did my initial homework the right way.”
"This is an Exciting Find"
“Because we were so far from the creek and obstructed by the blackberry maze we did not carry out any earth from the entrance to the mine to pan out. But this was our first, exploratory expedition and come the Martin Luther King holiday weekend we will return.”
“We’ll explore the area more thoroughly and use our metal detectors to search for old encampments, garbage heaps, and bottles. We’ll collect as much information as we can before we map the mine which looks to be in good order. This, my friend, is an exciting find and I will forward you more details on our progress as we explore the past in and around this old mine site.”
I agree. This IS an exciting find and I wish Greg and Ken great success. I’ll keep all of you up to date on their adventures in future posts.
In the meantime, you may want to take a look at Greg’s gold mining website, “y’Ore Placer Mining” (http://www.yoreplacermine.com/). There’s tons of good information there on Greg and Ken’s other mining adventures and photos and videos of their mining activities and gold finds.
(Note: I don't recommend anyone ever enter old mine shafts, adits, prospect pits, etc. The danger level is always high and anything can happen. Like Greg and Ken, you can minimize the dangers by being experienced, knowing what you're doing, and always using the "buddy system." J.R.)
That’s it for now. Good luck out there.
© J.R. 2011
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