The Value of "High Point" Gold (Part 3)

In my previous post on this topic I alluded to the fact that you must be ready to think outside the box when it comes to finding "high point" gold. Those of you who find this difficult must force yourselves to see and interpret things differently or you'll end up losing out on another viable gold prospecting tool that could be of great benefit to you in certain contexts. So loosen up and remain open to the possibilities, OK?

As Simple as That

First off, take a deep breath and allow me the opportunity for a small rant since my prevailing attitude is to always tell it like it is and pull no punches. Ready? OK, here goes. I'm getting pretty damn sick and tired of those run-of-mill gold prospecting and mining books and videos that provide you with info "gems" like the following: you can pull good yellow from the bottoms of corrugated metal road culverts. What a load of happy horseshit that is and what a waste of time ultimately. Despite the occasional claim by questionable parties that good gold can be had in "riffled" road culverts, I can't think of a single instance in my 35+ years of small-scale gold prospecting and mining where this held water (no pun intended). Now I know that sure as the day is long some yay-hoo is going to hit me up via e-mail and tell me in no uncertain terms that I'm dead wrong and he or she is dead right. Really?

(No thanks, I'll pass. Got better things to do with my mining time. But you go right on ahead.)

On the slim chance that you don't get what I'm trying to say here, let me spell things out for you. I'd try "high point" gold prospecting any day, any time, anywhere before I'd waste my valuable mining time on quasi-fruitless pursuits like rooting around on my hands and knees inside a culvert. And I'll bet you a dollar to a donut I'll get much more gold (and better gold) doing my "high point" gold thing. It's as simple as that. How this topic came up is also just as simple. A co-worker on the edge of retiring has been picking my brain as of late, thinking he might supplement his retirement income via gold mining. (Long sighhhhhhh here...) Rather than completely dash his dreams of striking it rich I've been trying to school him up a bit instead. Just this morning he came flying into my office, cheeks flushed and huffing and puffing, all excited about what he'd read in a prospecting book about getting good gold out of road culverts. (Another long sigh here.) Ah, the purity of faith in greenhorns and the sheer crap kicked around in some of these books and videos. (Yes...I know. I should write my own book and be done with it all. One day I may surprise you all in that regard.)

"Crevicing" Boulders

OK, back to heart of the matter. I'm going to clue you in to one aspect of "high-point" prospecting and sampling that most of you have never thought of before. I call it boulder crevicing and in certain gold-bearing streams and washes it can produce surprising amounts of gold, including larger flakes, coarser pieces, and even numerous small nuggets. Here's how it works:

1) Identify any large boulders or rock outcroppings that are currently well above and away from the current water flow in that stream, river, dry wash, or gulley. These are some of the obstructions we talked about earlier that sit higher up the stream banks or that rise vertically some feet from the existing streambed or gravel bed itself. (These boulders are those that are typically fully submerged only during flooding events.

(An excellent "high point" crevicing prospect.)

2) Closely examine that boulder (or those boulders) for splits, cracks, or crevices along the upper sides and especially the top. DO NOT ignore even the narrowest crack for it can (and often does) contain gold. Any crack you spot that looks like it has trapped even small amounts of clay, mud, sand and dirt, or gravel is viable in this context.

3) Use any and all crevicing tools at your disposal to get into that boulder's cracks and crevices and remove every bit of material contained therein. To name just a few, these tools can include things like welding rods with bent angles, stiff wires, narrow blade screw drivers, manufactured crevicing tools, rock hammers, chisels, knife blades, crack jacks, pry bars, or whatever else you can come up with to dig or break your way into those tiny treasure vaults seamed atop or across those "high point" boulders.

 (I've recovered small nuggets like these [and larger ones as well] many times while "high pointing.")

4) Pan or sluice the material immediately to find out what's what. Now some of you are going to say "Why not just bucket up the creviced material from boulder to boulder or obstruction to obstruction and then do a clean out later on?" Fair enough question and the answer is obvious. You want to know exactly what's in those boulder cracks and crevices before you spend hours laboriously cleaning them out. (No, it's not hard work but it can be very time consuming.)

Setting the Stage

OK, now that we have these basic instructions out of the way let me give you an example of what I'm talking about here. Way back in the olden times (the 1980s specifically) when I was spending a good part of my summers dredging in northern California's Motherode Region, I used to relax from the demands of laboring underwater by doing some gold sniping, crevicing, and yes, "high pointing." For me it was like taking a fun break from the real work. The location I was dredging had lots of high-point obstructions including some very large (VW Beetle-sized) granite boulders that sat well above the current water level on a gravel bar (others were located higher up the near bank of the river).

Now that I've set the stage for you, I'll continue this little story and tell you what I found by crevicing" these "high point" obstructions. I'll also fill you in on other "high point" areas to search and throw a few more tips your way.

Until then I wish each and every one of you out there the very best.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2015

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. Hello JR, been busy lately and just got a chance to look at this. I've always wondered about the culvert thing. I can see it working as a type of bedrock if it has a few inches of gravel inside, but just the riffles? Sure, it looks similar to a sluice box, but if the culvert is clean, the water has run too fast and probably would have washed out any gold there was. I know where there is a cement tunnel type culvert on a gold stream here. It is about 6 feet high,15 feet wide,and 20 feet long. In the center is a seam where they poured the cement in two pieces.(crevice type crack) I haven't tried it yet, but it is really artificial bedrock. I bet that one has gold in it, but no, I'll stay out of regular corrugated culverts as well!!

  2. Hey, just had a thought. About 15 years ago one of our local ranchers drowned in his irrigation ditch and died. It is common to bury a 4 foot long section of culvert in the ditch as a head box. You put a piece of plywood, or a canvas dam in front of the culvert to back the water up, overfill the ditch, and flood irrigate the field. After a few hours you pull the dam in front of the culvert and move it to the next one, and a new section of field. Well, Bob pulled his dam, but was standing in front of the culvert and the water swept him off his feet into the culvert. As you can guess, he was now the dam.....the water backed up and that was the end of him. What I'm getting at is stay to the "high points" and don't crawl into a culvert!! Good post JR, as usual, you have me thinking........Gary


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