There are a lot of different ways that you might stumble upon a new area that is worth prospecting. Most gold prospectors know that finding locations that the old-timers have already dug for gold are still good places to explore today.
Some of these places are more obvious and well-known than others. Large, established mines are often marked on maps and aren’t a secret. They probably still have gold, but they are also likely to be claimed up or at least mined very hard over the years.
Here are a few ways that you might be able to find a new location to do some gold prospecting; perhaps an area that has been overlooked by other gold miners.
Basic Books for your Mining Area
If you are in a major gold mining area there is a pretty good likelihood that there have been a few books written specifically about mining in your state. While the information in these are sometimes more generic in nature, they can still lead you to general areas to focus your attention.State-by-State Gold Mining eBooks
Government Reports (USGS and State)
Once you have keyed in on a specific area to prospect and you want more detailed, specific information about potential gold-bearing locations then old government reports are one of the best research tools available.
The US Geological Survey wrote a lot of these reports. State mining agencies also often wrote specific and detailed reports about various mining districts. Most of these are posted online today and are often found as downloadable reports online.
Newspapers during the Height of the Gold Rush
While a newspaper today covers a wide range of different topics, during the height of the gold rush the main thought on everyone’s mind was gold! For example, a newspaper in Northern California during the 1850’s is guaranteed to have several references to gold mining taking place in the areas. New discoveries, troubles at the mines, etc. This is all good information that can tip you off to new places to explore.
Visit With Old Timers about Depression Era Mining
Most gold mining districts in the United States were mined heavily at least twice. Once at the time of the original gold discovery (usually sometime between 1848 and 1870) and then once again during the Great Depression in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
There are still a few of these Depression-era miners alive today and they are a wealth of knowledge! They may remember places that people were mining for gold that has never really been written about in any literature. If you ever have the chance to pull up a chair and talk with an old gold miner, do it!
This may seem “old school,” but I love the library. There is so much great information here and it seems like every time I visit one I find a new tidbit of info that leads me to a new prospecting area.
Librarians also seem to be consistently helpful in helping you find good information. I let them know exactly what type of information about old mines that I am looking for and they can usually find some great old texts for me to pour over.
Research – The Difference between Success and Failure
There is no doubt in my mind about this; the most successful miners do a lot of research and area always looking for new places to go prospecting. The specific method (gold panning, metal detecting, drywashing, etc.) isn’t really important. What is important is finding a place that has gold that hasn’t been mined out yet.
Wintertime is a great time to do research (or summertime for prospectors in the Southwest). Spend your off-season thinking of places to explore so you can hit it hard once the weather gets nice!
Next: 90+ Historic Gold Mining Locations