There’s Gold in Them Thar’ Hills

by “GoldFever Bob” Lowe, “Seeking Cures for What Ails Me”

The search for gold has been one of the most important activities that has shaped the modern world. It was the gold rushes of the 1800’s that opened vast western territories of the United States for future settlement.

Gold was the monetary standard of the US and is still universally recognized as a trade medium throughout the world. Gold holds its own against inflation. One ounce of gold could buy a man a new suit of clothes in 1900 and that same ounce can still purchase a new suit of clothes today.

People of all walks of life roam the hills in search of this elusive metal. Most are hobby prospectors, although there are a few hardcore sourdoughs still digging about. You will become hooked when your mind begins wandering to thoughts of fresh mountain air, the feel of clear cold water, the sounds of abundant wildlife and the excitement of the real possibility of seeing a nugget under the next stone you turn. Once you catch “Gold Fever,” you and your family will find fun and adventure in seeking the cure.

You should get your whole family involved right from the beginning. Recreational gold prospecting is a fantastic outdoor family hobby. Besides, it is easier when everyone is exposed to the “fever” at the same time. The advantage to this is so that you will not have to keep explaining your long absences from home and that you still do love your family. It will also keep the pressure off while you try to find the nugget to make the piece of jewelry you promise your spouse each time you want to go out.

Knowledge is the key for success in all our life’s endeavors. It has been said that without knowledge the path to success is a road of hard knocks. This is especially true in our search for gold.

Understanding what gold is and how and where it occurs in nature will help in your search. You do not need to be a geologist to hunt for gold but knowing the basics of geology makes it easier. There are many books and articles on prospecting which start by giving the reader the basics. Topics that include rock formations and the difference between lode and placer gold are essential. The effects of erosion by rivers and streams and the many methods of mining should also be studied.

Once the sourdough’s of yesterday found a good source of gold, they had to rely on high priced primitive tools or had to resort to making their own equipment out of the meager supplies and materials they could scrounge up. You, on the other hand, have another advantage in the wide variety of modern and technical equipment available to today’s prospector.

Pans, sluices, dredges, trommels, high bankers, dry washers, gold wheels, gas powered vacuums, sucker tubes and metal detectors are a few of the items that can be purchased or built. Vials, tweezers, rock pick, shovel, crowbar, magnifying glass, 5-gallon buckets, screens, knee pads, rubber gloves, rubber boots, wide brimmed hat, bug repellent, bent screwdrivers, spare parts and a set of tools are a few of the things you should consider acquiring. With the above items you will be able to pursue your new hobby in earnest and keep the symptoms of “gold fever” under control.

Join a prospecting club or organization. They have claims you can visit and enjoy. There are club members with a wide range of experience in every type of gold prospecting who are eager to share their stories with beginners. Monthly meetings and outings help by informing each other of tricks of the hobby and the rules and regulations we work under. And best of all, there is strength in numbers when dealing with policy which affects our rights as recreational gold prospectors.

Gold prospecting is not easy, or everyone would be doing it. But when you catch the “fever” it takes a lifetime of adventure and enjoyment to seek its cure. Mankind has tried for generations to find the cure and has made untold sacrifices in its quest for gold. We have searched far and wide for the elusive metal and easy ways to extract it. I think my grandfather said it best when he told me years ago, “The amount of gold in your poke is in direct proportion to the amount of sweat on your brow.” Keep this in mind in all your prospecting adventures.

Happy prospecting and may the bottom of your pan turn yellow!

Bob Lowe is the president of Eagle City Mining Company, Ltd., which owns and operates Eagle City Park and GoldFever Mining Supply. See and is the founder and past president of the NorthWest Gold Prospectors Association, PO Box 2307, Post Falls, Idaho 83877. They promote the hobby of Recreational Gold Prospecting/Small Scale Mining. Annual memberships are $20/single, $25/couple and $30/family. A monthly newsletter, the Nugget News is available for $10/year (is included in a membership). Members have access to club claims and some of our members extend invitations to the membership to use their personal claims. Meetings are at 7:00 pm the second Thursday of each month at the Rathdrum Senior Center located at the SW corner of Montana Street & Hwy 41 (8037 Montana Street, Rathdrum, ID. During the summer months (May thru October) outings are held the weekend following the monthly meeting. A Clearwater Chapter of NWGPA has been formed in the Lewiston / Orofino area. Contact Wayne Crowder at 509-592-5685 or email for more information.

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