Category Archives: Gold Prospecting & Metal Detecting

How Much Gold Did We Discover?

If you read our Eureka! We Found Gold! post, you already have an idea that we found some gold along the American River.  The question remains, how much gold did we find?  Well, you are about to find out, but first some additional information about how we found the gold.

The crack I chose to call my own had some features that looked promising to this novice prospector.  It ran along the top of the boulders that were on the outside edge of a sharp turn in the river.  The gold tries to move in a straight line as it rolls along the bottom of the river, so when the water was in flood stage it would try to flow over these rocks.  As it bounced along the rocks, some would fall into my crack and make its way to the bottom after many years of floods and settling.  Some of the cracks in these rocks had obviously been cleaned out by other prospectors, but this one had many signs that led me to believe it had never been touched.

Laini and Emmie the wonder dog helped me in my tough job of digging small bits of material out of the crack using very primitive tools.  Many of the adults walking by my crack had odd looks on their faces when they saw a grown man lying on a boulder using a bent spoon (sorry Chas) from the Scholl Bus kitchen, along with a small blue sandbox shovel, to remove minuscule amounts of dirt from a narrow crevice.  We were so dedicated in our endeavors that we chose to ignore the Rattlesnake warning signs that were well posted all along our digging route.

Slowly I dug deeper in the crack, and reached the end of my tools useful length.  Sadly there turned out to be more dirt in the bottom of the crack than I could get out before we had to pack up and head out toward San Francisco.  I plan to continue to work on that crack if we are able to visit this area of California again.  Believe it or not, I was inspired by my crack to write a short poem, so here goes:

Today I work, digging in my crack,

The American River rumbling at my back.

Removing the sediment, millennia old,

Deposited by floods, dropped deep in Earth’s fold.

Missed by the miners of days long gone by,

This gold sat waiting back in 1849.

Each shake of the ground dropped it deeper still,

Until it sat in the bedrock at the base of this hill.

Passers by smiled and laughed at the sight,

But I paid no attention and continued my fight.

I dug in my crack, with a smile on my face,

This chance of a lifetime may never be replaced.

Now I see my hard work as it shines in my hand,

For the American River has left gold in my pan.


We had a lot of fun in this part of California, but more adventure awaited us in San Francisco.  We had new friends to meet up with, and exciting things to explore on the California coast.  Our gold adventures will not be forgotten, hopefully I will be able to add to our gold stash this summer as we explore other areas of the country.

Eureka ! We Found Gold !

While hanging with our pal Greg Mulac in Quartzsite for 2 months, we (okay, mostly me) were hit with the Gold Bug.  I had always been interested in gold prospecting, so having Greg provide some professional advice on how to do so, I began to purchase a few tools of the trade.  We found the perfect campground, the Ponderosa Resort, near the original 1849 California Gold Rush site.  While camped by the river, we dug out our equipment and went to work in some of the coldest river water we have ever encountered.  We set up our Gold Magic Spiral Wheel, and tried to get used to feeding material into it.  The girls didn’t want to stand in the cold water, so I set it up in a tub on the bank of the river.  We didn’t get any gold out of that first run, but we discovered how to get the angle set to extract black sand, which told us we were doing it correctly.  The girls had fun looking through the larger rocks for exciting crystals and others things that caught their eye.

After running the Gold Magic wheel for a while, I decided to get serious and find a place to do some real prospecting.  Anywhere along the river, it is possible to find a few flakes here and there.  I wanted to try a technique I learned through several different avenues, one of which being the GPAA (Gold Prospectors Association of America), which we became members of during the Gold Show at Quartzsite.  Using a few small tools, you dig the material that settles in cracks along boulders and bedrock.  I began telling everyone I was digging in my crack, and the phrase stuck like glue.  Laini decided to help me dig in my crack, but slowly became interested in digging in one of her own.  We removed the material from the cracks, and then we panned it down to reveal the gold that had fallen in during floods.  Gold, being 19 times heavier than water, immediately falls to the bottom of the crack and works its way through any other debris trapped there.   The cracks concentrate gold in one area, so I chose to dig there and see what happened.


I will be adding several videos to the final post about the Ponderosa Prospecting, I don’t have good enough internet at our summer campground to add them here.  Stay tuned for the final chapter, and to see just how much gold we found…

Welcome to Coloma, California

Heading North on Hwy 99 through central California was a nice drive.  We left the Sequoia trees behind and made a few stops on our way to the Ponderosa Resort, a Thousand Trails park.  We were excited to learn about the local history, and try to make some history of our own in the area.   The views from the resort of the American River are spectacular, we were even greeted by a rainbow the morning after we arrived.  The sunlight peaking through the clouds seemed to make the green mountains glow with color.

The resort is just a couple miles down river from the 1848 Gold Discovery Site of Sutters Mill, and home of the Marshall Gold Discovery Park.  The park is full of information about the famous gold discovery that marked the start of the 1849 California Gold Rush.  We arrived at the park later in the day on a Saturday, so most of the exhibits and Docent’s (actors that are dressed in period clothing and filled with period information) were being packed away for the day.  We walked around through the park and read the signs on the equipment, and learned a little about the events that led to the gold rush.  They offer gold panning classes, but we had our own equipment to use at the campground.

I did manage to catch one of the Docents in action, so here is a brief video of him entertaining and educating the kids.  He was very informative, and kept the kids on their toes the whole time.

We spent two weeks at this resort, I had to get in some gold prospecting under my belt while we were here.  We ate well when I happened to be in the mood to fire up the grill too, the weather was great the whole time we were here, reaching close to 85 degrees a couple days.  Since we were in an area with a long history of gold and treasure, I decided to get out with the metal detector for a little while.  I didn’t find much, but had fun getting more familiar with my detector.

The next post will be about our gold prospecting adventures on the American River.  You will have to come check it out to see if we struck it rich…