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Want to be a Panner? A Mini Gold Rush is Going on in The U.S.

Ian Harvey
Janothird - CC BY-SA 3.0

Gold Rush and no Tony Beats in sight! Have you ever wanted to strike it rich by panning for gold? Because of reality shows gold panning has become popular again. Classes are even offered all over the country.

The most popular group for panning is the Gold Prospectors Association of America in California. Don’t know the first thing about panning?

Head on over to Amazon.com for a beginner’s kit, watch a video from a reputable panning organization and set your sights on a specific river.

According to Gold Prospectors Association of America, panners don’t even have to go to California or Alaska to find gold as gold flakes wash up on shore from Lake Michigan , Chicago.

There are also several parks in the United States such as Emerald Village in Little Switzerland, North Carolina where one can find not only gold but small gems, mica and pyrite also known as fool’s gold. An adjacent mine has emeralds, black tourmaline, aquamarine, garnet and golden beryl.

The fastest clipper ships cut the travel time from New York to San Francisco in seven months to four months in the 1849 Gold Rush.

The fastest clipper ships cut the travel time from New York to San Francisco in seven months to four months in the 1849 Gold Rush.

Gold can be found in every continent of the world except Antarctica. Goldrushnuggets.com says the top places to find gold in North America are in the Chena River in Fairbanks, Alaska; Northern Nevada; the Black Hills of South Dakota where the deepest and largest gold mine in North America is found.

Also the Etowah, Chattahoochee, Tesnatee and Chestatee rivers in Dahlonega, Georgia; the Feather River area of Yuba City, Marysville and Oroville in the northern part of California; Atlin in British Columbia, Canada where large nuggets have been found in the ground and the Rogue River in Oregon near Gold Hill and Grants Pass.

Garrett Gold Panning Kit.

Garrett Gold Panning Kit.

The more well known places from the gold rush of the 1800s such as Pike’s Peak in Colorado and the Klondike region in the Canadian Yukon are still producing gold.

Family friendly vacations are offered for gold mining including Randall Glen in Leicester, North Carolina where guests can stay in self-serve cabins; Oregon Gold Trips at Grant’s Pass where guests lodge in miner’s cabins and are treated to three meals a day by Demings Kitchen.

Lucky Strike Gold & Gem Mine in Marion, North Carolina has a campground as does The Chicken Gold Camp & Outpost in Chicken, Alaska. Mariah Wilderness Expeditions offers panning, rafting and camping on the American River near Sacramento, California.

Gold in the pan, Alaska. Mike Beauregard – CC BY 2.0

Gold in the pan, Alaska. Mike Beauregard – CC BY 2.0

Geology.com tells us it is important to obtain permission from the landowner before beginning so as not to be arrested for trespassing and even theft if gold is found. According to a Bureau of Land Management publication, “Persons who remove mineral materials from public lands without a permit or contract are considered unauthorized users and in trespass.

In addition, unauthorized users may be fined as much as $100,000 and sentenced up to 1 year in jail. This does not apply to the hobby collection of stone or petrified wood where reasonable amounts of these materials are taken without a permit for personal or nonprofit use, provided that such collection does not cause unnecessary or undue degradation.

“Some private land owners are offering to allow prospectors to look for gold for a fee, either for entrance or based on what is extracted from the ground or water. If not a private ownership, the land could be part of a national park or government property. Contacting the local land management office before deciding where to pan would save a lot of heartache.

Some states require a permit. Ways to determine if an area would be good for panning are to consider where gold has been found before, where there are legal places to pan, knowledge of prospecting laws, at least a rudimentary knowledge of panning and some basic knowledge of geology would be advantageous.

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The 2017 flooding in California washed “new” gold into many of the rivers that were running about forty times faster than normal and took the gold into streams. Usually panning produces tiny nuggets and flakes while mines produce the most gold but panning can identify the location of a gold vein for mining.