Can You Still Mine for Gold Out West?

Mining for gold is a hot topic that comes up any time someone talks about vacationing in the west.  The idea of finding treasure or scooping up a little bit of financial success is tempting and is the reason casinos and gambling are so popular in some cities. 

However, if you’re more interested in literal gold than gambling, these are the top things you need to know before heading west.  

 A Brief History on Gold Mining

Gold was first discovered in California in 1848, which set off millions of people to move west as quickly as possible.  This fast-tracked the settling of these western states, and those headed out the following year got the nickname ‘forty-niners.’  This is one of the largest migrations of American history and is why so many people now populate the west coast, despite how slow the migration had been before.

Prospectors came from all over the world to try and get a taste of gold, but only a small number of people found any.  Crime rates rocketed immediately in areas where gold mining was active, mostly due to a lack of law enforcement, housing, and sanitation.  Vigilante justice took over, causing many issues with housing that most modern San Francisco apartments will thankfully never see. 

Eventually, the gold rush died down, and people settled the lands, deciding to work for their wealth instead of continuously trying to mine for it.

Are There Any Active Mines?

Although there’s still gold in the California mountains and hills, there’s only one working gold mine: and it’s only intermittently active.  The amount of work that goes into finding gold isn’t worth it for most of these companies, and a lot of lands has become private property, meaning that it can’t be explored further without a permit or permission.

What’s The Most Someone’s Found?

The largest gold nugget in history came from California.  Known as the Fricot Nugget, it weighed 13.8 ounces and was found in 1865.  Unfortunately, these are incredibly rare and exceedingly difficult to find.

Is It Worth It?

If you’re considering gold mining on your own, it might be worth it for a fun vacation.  It doesn’t cost much to get a panning set, and there aren’t any laws around who can or can’t pan for gold as long as it’s low-impact and not destructive to the environment. But, unfortunately, the chances of you striking gold in this way are incredibly low since most of the gold from the streams and any caves and openings has been claimed.

How Do I Get Into The Game?

There are multiple places in California where you can pan for gold; one of the best is Oroville, where a prospector unearthed a five-pound nugget worth several hundred thousand dollars.  The prospector who found this says that good public panning areas are along Brush Creek, French Creek, and the Feather River above the Upper Theratillo Ridge.

It’s important that if you go, you bring enough water and safety equipment to protect yourself.  Bring a backup charger or external battery for your phone, and avoid taking any risks that could put your life in danger.

Article  by Born Realist