Finding Gold in New Ways
By Steve Gillman
Buy a gold pan, become a prospector, and hopefully you'll
start finding gold. To be honest, the only place I've seen gold
in my pan is in Canada, (I used to live in Michigan and traveled
north occasionally). I have tried panning a few times here in
Colorado, and have found nothing but flakes of mica that look
like gold. People have been having some luck panning for gold
in the mountain streams of the southeast and the west, but whether
or not you find any gold, it is always a nice way to spend a
But putting that gold pan in a mountain stream is not the
only way of finding gold. For example, the metal culverts that
go under roads can collect gold in the bottoms of their grooves,
while the lighter material is washed out. One man built a power
washer with an extra long wand, which he slowly pushed through
a culvert to wash everything out the other side, onto a piece
of carpet or other material. When he panned through what washed
out he found enough gold to make it worth his time. When in a
known gold-bearing area you might want to scrape out a culvert
or two and put what you collect in a bucket, to pan out at home.
Then there is the man who bought a farm property, and while
cleaning out the barn he found dry moss piled up. The previous
owner had regularly collected the moss from streams to sell to
garden-supply stores. After burning the moss to dispose of it,
the new property owner found small globs of gold in the ashes
left behind. Apparently gold flakes and bits get trapped in stream
moss, and after locating the stream it had come from, the man
started his own regular collections. Throw some moss in that
gold pan next time you're out prospecting.
In the 1990s, after the "El Niño" weather
pattern, hills in the southwest were eroded by storms, which
uncovered gold and other valuables minerals. People started finding
gold nuggets on these hilltops, using metal detectors that are
designed for this purpose.
Finding gold in old tailings piles is another common occurrence.
Ore and rock were taken from mines in the past, then broken down
to be processed, but chunks of rock which didn't easily break
were thrown aside. Some of them may have had a chunk of gold
inside, but before metal detectors existed there was no way to
tell without breaking them down smaller, which was too time-consuming.
Now you know why there is still gold at all those old mines out
west, and what you need to find it.
There a lot of old mines out here - I've discovered more than
a dozen in the last two years. Of course, if you can get to a
mine easily (many are on public land and near roads), other people
can too, so most of the tailings piles of these mines have probably
been searched. Find a mine that is miles from the nearest road,
and maybe - just maybe - nobody has been there yet with a metal
How Much Can You Make?
Who knows what is possible as far as profits, but this is
a fun and cheap hobby to try.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
If you do find gold, it is still possible to file a claim
on public lands, and you can even sell gold claims - another
way to make money without having to do all the digging, panning
and sluicing yourself.
Qualifications / Requirements
You'll need a gold pan if you want to try streams. I prefer
the dark-green or black plastic ones best. They make it easier
to see the gold flecks.
Check with your local BLM or Forest Service office, but most
federal lands are open to prospecting without a permit.
Look over the resources below, buy a gold pan or a metal detector
designed for finding gold, and get started.
- A site about finding gold.
- Search "panning for gold" for some good instructional
videos to get you started.