Gold in the Northwest: Washington's Pehashtin Creek
(Section of Pehashtin Creek.)
Both Gold and Silver
Although I typically don't recommend small-scale or recreational miners try their luck at easy to reach locations, Washington state's Pehashtin Creek may prove an exception to the rule. Part of the old Blewett Pass Mining District, a good part of Pehashtin runs clear and cold right next to U.S. Highway 97, a route favored by many for traveling from Seattle to Spokane and back again.
The Blewett Pass District was a busy place for both gold and silver mining in the 1880s, much of it lode or vein mining. Many old mine workings and prospect pits are scattered along nearby hillsides and some of these no doubt contributed to the placer gold (and yes, silver) that can still be found in Pehashtin Creek.
Decent Gold Values
One of the better areas of the Pehashtin to prospect and mine is near the old community of Blewett. Although stretches of this placer ground have already been worked by dredgers and sluicers, decent gold values can still be recovered by those in the know.
Gold Prospecting Books
What are decent gold values in this instance? Well, how about a quarter ounce or more of gold per day? I am aware of instances where knowledgeable placer gold miners did even better than this on Pehashtin Creek. With gold pushing $1,700 a troy ounce, this isn't what I'd call small potatoes.
Where to Get the Gold
From what I've learned, your best bets for finding gold on Pehashtin Creek is by:
1) Taking material from the downstream side or underneath larger rocks or boulders (stream obstructions);
2) Processing overburden gravels for fine gold; and
3) Working a clay layer that you'll find about 2-4 feet down.
There is little exposed bedrock along Pehashtin Creek which is probably why I've not heard much about potential gold values there. However, you can expect lots of fines, some large flakes, and occasional small nuggets in the locations listed above.
(Another view of Pehashtin Creek.)
Also note that you'll probably find some native silver as well as gold while working this area. Some gold may be coated with mercury which gives it a dull, lead or silvery look, so don't toss out any "heavies" that end up in your pan or your concentrates. Mercury is nasty, so use standard safety precautions when removing it chemically (nitric acid).
One tip for you: U.S. Highway 97 was built right over older placer ground, so you may want to do a little research and see where the old parts of the creek used to be. I'd also check any drainages near the highway as well.
Good luck out there!
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Main U.S Gold Deposit Types (Part 1)"
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2012
Questions?E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org