Outhouses and Salmon River Nuggets: by Stan M.
(Some beautiful gold recovered by Stan M.)
Stan M. is a Northern California gold miner who's been at this thing of ours for quite a while now. He's got quite a little gold sniping story to tell which I'm sure you'll enjoy. So without further ado I'll let Stan tell it.
Time of Rehabilitation
I had two mining claims on the Salmon river just below Cecilville in Northern California. At that time I was using a Keene triple-sluice dredge with a 5-inch intake which I absolutely loved. (Losing this dredge on the Klamath River is a totally different story...perhaps I'll tell you that tale of woe one day.)
Anyway, my career as a Monterrey County, California sheriff's deputy was ended by an injury and I was forced into early retirement. This allowed me to prospect and mine pretty much full time, something I continue to do to this day. At the time these events took place, I was going through a time of rehabilitation and decided to do some bedrock sniping in the shallow part of my claims.
Sophisticated Mining Equipment
The area I chose to work had lots of good bedrock showing with about two feet of swiftly flowing water over it. To work it I used very 'sophisticated' mining equipment consisting of a turkey baster, 1/4" x 8" copper tubing, a face mask, snorkel, knee pads, screw driver, and rubber gloves. In fact, I still use this same gear today in my sniping efforts. I created a mini-suction device by cutting the end off the turkey baster and inserting about 4 inches of the copper tubing into it, and then sealing the whole rig to prevent leaks.
Nothing but Gold!
My overall strategy was to get down on my knees (thus the knee pads) and search for promising looking cracks, crevices, and drop offs. Wen I found a likely looking spot I'd start by fanning my hand over it to to wash the lighter material out and away. The gold, being much heavier, would stay down in the cracks and I would use my turkey baster rig to suck these pieces out.
I was doing fairly well working one particular bedrock crack so I continued following it. At one point I came across a football-sized rock laying atop the crack so I rolled it away. Mud and silt billowed up as I did so. As the water cleared I could see nothing but gold! I started sucking up as much material as I could and as I got down deeper into the crack I saw a line of nuggets wedged inside it. Some of these were so large or tightly wedged my turkey baster rig couldn't move them. So I began using a screwdriver to pry them out.
Drawing the Line
One item I'd failed to bring along this day was a vial or container to hold larger pieces of gold in, so I figured popping them into my mouth would be a safe expedient for the time being. Then I came across two really nice nuggets (the largest of the bunch) which I had to use both hands to remove. In my excitement, I set my turkey baster down on the bedrock where it was promptly swept away by the swift current and along with it, the smaller gold I'd recovered. When I turned my head to watch it bob away downstream I accidentally swallowed the nuggets in my mouth!
I floated downriver using my face mask and snorkel until I found my baster rig bobbing in the bottom of the first deep hole where I recovered it and the smaller pieces of gold. As far as the nuggets that slid down my throat, well...I never went after those. That's where I drew the line.
All in all I recovered over $800.00 worth of gold from that crack and the largest nugget I pried out of it weighed close to a quarter troy ounce. And now, some where under our outhouse is a deposit of several nice Salmon river nuggets!
(c) Stan M. (for Bedrock Dreams) 2013