Myself and several friends decided to do some recreational gold mining while living in California. The history of the placer mines and geology of the mining districts around Nevada City was a favorite subject of mine. It was always interesting to read the histories before hiking and visiting the various mining districts and old mines. A trip to a liquidating company in Sacramento provided me with enough stainless steel to build a four foot sluice with an attached classifier. We gathered up three inch plastic pipe to feed water by gravity to the classifier and sluice. We made several weekend trips to find a location where we might get into some nuggets.Our first mining trip was to an area on Grizzly Creek north of Nevada City. The site was downstream from some good gold producing areas of the past. The creek had washed it’s way down to solid bedrock in the steep sided canyon. Our target was a bowl shaped cavity in the granite about twenty feet in diameter. The bowl was full of alluvium washed down by the creek and had a twelve inch tree growing out of it. The size of the tree indicated it had been growing there for many years. During the high run off from snow melting and rains the bowl would act like a trap for gold being washed down the creek. A series of small waterfalls upstream provided enough rise for our gravity feed water system to function properly.
Our crew consisted of four men and two sons in grade school. We were on the road early Saturday morning, packed everything in, got set up, and started digging. By evening we were less than half excavated in the hole. Everybody was pleased with our progress and we were getting enough very small flakes of gold to keep it interesting. Our homemade sluice was doing fine. We were back early Sunday morning. The digging was hard due to the large rocks near the bottom of the hole and the frequent tree roots we had to relocate. We didn’t have any nuggets, but every time we cleaned the sluice we had colors in it. It was hard work all day with digging, rolling large rocks out of the hole, and bailing trapped water out of the hole as we went down. The washed granite bedrock was extremely slippery on the sides of the big bowl. We were doing our best not to injure the tree roots as we dug down. We rinsed as many large rocks as possible in case small nuggets were stuck to them.We were closing in on the bottom and our bowl kept getting smaller. Everybody was feeling the effect of the two day excavation in the hole, but nobody was going anywhere until we hit bottom. We were undermining the large tree roots and carefully removing the gravels near bottom. We barred out a couple large rocks and nested them on the side of the bowl.We were almost there. Somebody hollered they saw something in the bottom. We carefully bailed out the water and slowly worked down to where we anticipated our nuggets would be. When we were all clean except for a small area we found a Budweiser beer can standing straight up and supported by some carefully placed rocks. It had been left as a message from the last people to clean the bowl.
The Bubweiser beer can is still there………waiting for the next gold seeker to leave his mark.