Finding gold is easy: look for it where other people have found it. That's
the best way of knowing where to look. One has a far better chance of
digging up gold if one does one's digging close to where gold has been
found previously. All one needs is a map showing where old gold mines
are located. Check out my free gold maps site.
Big Ten has them for sale for locations within California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Alabama, if you prefer a paper version. Topographic maps often have marks on them showing where the mines are located, but they usually do not demarcate between gold mines and other types of mines.
Digging for gold near abandoned gold mines is a good idea only if one follows two rules strictly: (1) never enter a old mine shaft or tunnel, and (2) never collect gold from a claim you do not own. Doing either or both of these naughty things can get a person killed or worse (such as maimed or sued). If one digs up gold from a claim one does not owe, that gold belongs to the person who owns the claim, and not the person who performed the work; if the owner of the claim walks up and demands the gold, one has no legal right to keep it. If one does not know if a claim has been abandoned, one should ask the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) before digging. The BLM maintains a cumulative computer listing by township, range, and section of all mining claims recorded since 1976. This computer listing is known as the Mining Claim Recordation System (MCRS) and is available by specific request from:
United States Department of InteriorWhen in doubt, don't dig.
Here is a small portion of a Topographic map, published by the USGS.
I have placed yellow squares (with a red outline) at the locations where
gold has been found in the past. This area, incidently, is a portion of
Clark Mountain, north of Baker California and part of the Mojave Desert
National Preserve. I have walked to the spring located on this image
(Pachalka Spring), and I have visited the gold mine that is about 0.4 mile
directly East of the spring.
So, how does one use this information to find and collect gold? Why, that's EASY! Wander around the area looking. No, really. One could check the old mine's tailings (discard pile), and one can look for a lode that has not been worked before. Though it is extremely unlikely, new lodes can be exposed by recent weathering and erosion. However, the odds of someone finding a new lode are very small. One's best bet is to look for a placer deposit, downslope from the mine. That's what I do! If you want to make it big, you may spend a dozen years looking for a lode; if you are interested in a little bit of gold now and then, look for placer deposits instead.