Finding Research "Gold"

I know I'm remiss in terms of getting back to my short course on hard rock gold, but please bear with me for one or two more posts. After all, it's my fault. It was I who brought up the the twin issues of research and getting off the beaten path...yet again. So let's talk in detail about those two points and their importance in helping you find good gold recovery opportunities.


What is research? It's the 1) development of a creative and systematic plan to increase your stock of mining and prospecting knowledge, and the 2) direct application of that knowledge to achieve your gold recovery goals. In the broadest sense of the word, the definition of research includes any gathering of data, information, or facts that can increase your overall mining knowledge. This knowledge can be about processes, equipment, methods, or most importantly, about locations.

Treasure Hunting
Gold Concentrators
Metal Detectors

Maybe it's my academic background but I've always placed great emphasis on conducting good research. I've always been fanatic in this regard when it came to treasure hunting and I simply carried that enthusiasm for research forward to my gold prospecting and mining pursuits. I may not have struck it rich yet but I can tell you this...doing my research up front has inevitably given me an edge out in the field, especially when it came to working new ground or finding locations that weren't totally beaten to death.

The Right Knowledge

I alluded to this fact in my previous post when I mentioned that some very good gold finds have taken place in the past year in the Lower 48. No, not Alaska and definitely not Guyana...but right here in the continental United States. In each of these instances, luck was a minimal factor but experience, expertise, and knowledge were not. All three of the latter attributes were major players in all these finds.

 (Good gold is still out there. Image courtesy the New 49ers.)

What led the individual miners, prospectors, and nugget shooters involved to ultimate success was research on the front end. They took the time to learn about where they were going and what they were going to do before they even set foot outside the door. They were armed for bear and in each instance these miners ate the bear...not the other way around. They kicked butt and took names because they were well armed with the right knowledge.

Little Tidbits

I've touched on this research issue in the past in Bedrock Dreams and surprisingly enough, I've had a  number of people e-mail me wondering where they can find the research info they need. My, oh my, oh my...if you're asking this question then you're missing a fundamental aspect of the nature of research itself. Information surrounds you...especially in this day of computers, digital archives, and free info (including what I'm dispensing right now). What's your task then? To get off your butt and filter and assess that information until you "pan it down" enough to extract the gold from from it.
Some of the best sources of gold mining-related info I've ever come across were found in the bibliographies of both modern and older historical works about major gold rushes and important gold finds (if by chance you don't know what a bibliography your research!). Over the course of the years I've uncovered a wealth of salient information in those bibliographies and their referenced materials, including personal diaries, mining reports, direct observations, mining techniques and practices, where the good gold was, and hundreds of other little informational tidbits that can give you that small edge or perhaps even lead you to the "big one."

Time and Effort

Right off the top, I can tell you at least a half dozen gold prospecting and mining stories where the good guys won because they did their research upfront. One of these individuals was a former mining "pard" of mine and he struck gold to the tune of the low six figures. The last I heard, another still supplements his yearly income by $30,000 to $50,000 a year from old diggings he researched and then located. Yep, you heard right.

 (Bibliographies like this can produce research "gold.")

Lest you think these two examples represent some sort of get-rich-quick scheme, think again. These two miners weren't "newbies" with minimal experience and pie-in-the-sky attitudes when it came to the nature of gold mining. They knew the score and both had the necessary knowledge and experience to hold their own out in the field. What separated them from the thundering herd out there was their dedication to researching locations far from the beaten path. They put in the necessary time and effort to make things happen. Then they did it.

You already know that small-scale gold mining is very hard work for mostly small returns. Good research is another aspect of that workload but done properly it may transform those run-of-the-mill small returns into something spectacular.

Take care out there.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.)

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. Great post Jim, A few years ago, I found a web site called "Mindat" that showed a lot of claims both active and inactive in my area.I think it is for the USA and not just Idaho. I would recommend it as a starting point if someone reading this is looking for one. I have not been too successful at learning what is abandoned and what is not, but this is a start. I don't want to turn claim jumper, but at least you will know someone else found some in the area. This site is for all sorts of minerals and not just gold. If for no other reason, it gives ya something to research and in a way "winter prospect" when the sun go's down at 5pm!

  2. Nice one J.R., Information is exactly like gold i.e. it is where you find it! I'll second your comments on the digital archives that are at all of our fingertips on the internet. I once found a treasure trove of information about an old mining area simply by a simple google search of the name of the mining company that last operated there. That search returned a magazine article and a peice of sales literature both from 1903 with some nice "nuggets" (pardon the pun) of information that would never be found in any other place. unfortunately, the only thing all that info did was to let me know that I was digging in the wrong place. Still, the tidbits i found saved me a lot of wasted time. By that measure it was valuable information to me. I'm loving my trek from newbie to miner, and you're work here has been part of my success. Thanks for the effort here and thanks for your service to this country (belated veterans day salute). Keep it up.


    1. I guess if nothing else Bo, others out there should look at the value potential of good research. Saving time and saving money are but two assets that can spring from researched info. Thanks for the good comments! J.R.

  3. Thanks Gary...yep, Mindat is good but may be hard for a newcomer to figure out at first. Has all sorts of minerals too as you point out. Thanks for commenting, J.R.


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