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Author Topic: Chasing the gold with Lanny  (Read 8743 times)

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Offline Lanny

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Re: Chasing the gold with Lanny
« Reply #110 on: January 15, 2020, 01:51:58 PM »
Checking old hand-stacks of rock and old bedrock workings

I ran into a guy from the Yukon a few years ago while I was up in north-central British Columbia, and he was running a big placer operation in the Yukon. He told me that they always pushed off the piles of hand stacked rocks from the old-timers and then they carefully checked the bedrock underneath with detectors for gold. Not only were there nuggets the old-timers had missed, there were sometimes virgin strips of ground that he said were incredibly rich. He explained it this way: in the rush to mine the bedrock, the old-timers had stacked their rock piles over virgin ground, and then got too busy, or rushed on to new diggings, etc., and they never got back to the virgin dirt they'd buried in the first place.

I know of a nugget shooter that found an incredibly rich patch under such a pile of rocks. He took out hundreds of small nuggets, and some nice fat ones too, and the strip was only about three feet wide at its widest point!

This makes me think of tales some old-timers up north told me of how mining companies were in a hurry to get to the bedrock, and to quickly get the chunky gold, kind of like skimming thick cream off of milk and not really caring about the milk underneath, and that some of those companies were very sloppy in their recovery. As well, there were always other rushes going on that lured them away to "better" ground.

There are countless piles of hand-stacked rocks where I'm working, and I've winched rocks off before and found good gold. In fact, in the area I'm referring to, for years nugget shooters have been winching the boulders off the bedrock, and they've recovered a lot of nice nuggets as the detectors can see what the old-timers could not possibly visualize in that bedrock.

All the best,

Lanny

Offline Lanny

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Re: Chasing the gold with Lanny
« Reply #111 on: January 15, 2020, 02:19:15 PM »
Another tip, High up bedrock.

I was out one day digging a whole bunch of old boot tacks from long since disintegrated miner's boots! The little nails were all over the place, including down in crevices, well rusted or (for the non-ferrous) green with patina. I was also finding the little tips from old square nails, so I knew there were still targets to be found.

I found a few pieces of lead, from spent bullets, a steel button from an 1800's miner's shirt, a couple of pieces of wire, and many, many square nails, as well as a few more modern nails from the 1930's.

After digging a palm full of nails, I went down to a spot on the river that has always intrigued me, but one I've been handcuffed from detecting. The old-timers washed lots of gravel over this notch in the cliff: it's an area of high slate cliffs, where the slate has been sluffing off eons. I've always looked up at those cliffs and thought, that with all the jagged protruding edges, some gold must have been trapped, especially with all the sluice runs sent over the edge, including the virgin material that had eroded over the cliff before the miners started their workings.

Anyway, I've never been able to find anything but small flakes trapped in that jagged bedrock, and these discoveries were made by panning. However, I decided to walk along the base of that cliff to detect it.

Well, I hit all kinds of square nails, and spent bullets (I found a nice old 44 caliber slug too, and a big bore rifle slug with grease grooves), as well as bits of copper and brass wire. Being somewhat frustrated, I decided to cut some footholds up the slump at the base of the cliff, enabling me to reach higher up the cliff with my detector.

Almost instantly, I got a signal. I pinpointed it easily, cut some more steps with my pick so I could get up to the signal, and then I trapped it in the scoop. The target was the rusted tip of a square nail.

I rested the coil as I stepped back down and the coil swept through an arc over a new spot and gave a crisp signal. I stayed put on the cliffside and scanned the spot again. Of course, my brain was saying, "It's another piece of trash."

I reached up gingerly with my super-magnet to see if a nail would jump out, but none did. I say I reached up gingerly because the whole area of dirt holding the signal would have gone scurrying down the cliff, and you know what a nightmare it is to try to find a target after that happens.

No metal jumped to the super magnet, but the target could easily be copper, or a sliver of lead, or another non-ferrous boot tack!

I carefully inserted the tip of my scoop where the coil had pinpointed the signal. I saw a golden flash as the dirt poured into the scoop! 


I worked my way back down the slump to a level spot, scanned the scoop, and there was a nice crisp, mellow growl. I sifted the material onto the coil and heard a whap!, then a scream from the coil. I gently moved the particles around and there grinning up at me was a sassy nugget.

I now have lots of new area to search, difficult though it will be.

All the best,

Lanny

Offline Lanny

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Re: Chasing the gold with Lanny
« Reply #112 on: January 15, 2020, 05:28:35 PM »
More Nuggets In The Bedrock Tips

One Saturday, June 14th, I got ready to head to the hills to try to find some gold. I grabbed my pulse machine, and I picked up my partner, We drove the four hours to get to the gold fields. The day was incredibly beautiful.

We cached our equipment in the outfitters tent we always set up for the season and went out with the detectors to find some gold. The week before, I'd finally found a nugget on the slate cliffs.

My buddy headed off to stomp some ground he'd been saving, and I went to a gully that had always intrigued me, but one that had consistently skunked me. The old-timers had done a massive amount of hand mining in this area, with stacks of rocks piled all over, and it's shallow to bedrock in quite a few places. There's massive old pines, and lots of guts, shallow little washes, with cast up boulders everywhere.

Well, what I'd noticed on previous trips, was that someone had moved a lot of hand-stacks from places that were shallow to bedrock, lots of them. So, they must have moved them for a reason. However, I'd tried detecting those places with my Minelab pulse machine, and I'd never found anything but little steel and brass boot tacks, as well as the ubiquitous square nails from the 1800's gold rush.

I started detecting along the exposed bedrock, generously uncovered by someone else. All at once, I got a whisper amplified by my enhancer. So, I kept scrubbing that coil over that faint bump in the threshold signal with the coil right tight on the bedrock. (To elaborate, the friable Slate bedrock is in up-faulted sheets, the tips broken in fractured finger-like projections.) 

With my pick, I worried out any loose bits of rock and soil, scanned again, and there was a sweet, mellow signal. With no soil or gravel to work, I started to pry out pieces of the bedrock but scanned after removing each piece. Having now exposed a  small space in the bedrock, the tip of my small sniping coil fit it nicely, and the signal was coming right through one of those sheets of bedrock, the piece perpendicular to the surface.

I kept carefully breaking the rock and scanning, and I noticed that the signal was moving, not getting any louder, but moving deeper. The target still had that soft, sweet sound, no harsh-edged tone. So, I removed a chunk of that sheet and the signal remained stationary, no drop. I looked and I saw a golden glow, a nice, flat nugget. I called my buddy over to see the nugget, and then I was ready to move to an adjacent spot, but my wiser buddy suggested that I scan the hole again--Duh! Sometimes I forget the basics, so I scanned again, and I got another signal! I retrieved another flat nugget, one lodged tightly between two sheets of bedrock, about an inch from where the other nugget was.

Then I really went to work on that little area--about two foot square--but no more signals. But, the bedrock sloped away downhill, and I noticed two inches of small, gravelly overburden and clay covering it. I scanned it, but no signal. However, and this is important, I took my pick and cleaned off all the dirt, every bit, then scanned it again, another sweet whisper.

I broke the sheets of bedrock, but the nuggets dropped quickly every time the bedrock was disturbed. Nevertheless, I got two more nice, flat nuggets that way, and one of them was bent on the end, as it was lodged in a perpendicular crack. So, I took out four nice small nuggets from a section of bedrock about ten feet long, a minor patch. I scraped around in the bedrock farther down the gulch, but got skunked.

I went back to the Outfitters tent to get some grub, geared up again and went to another spot that's always looked good, a place also cleared by someone eager to get to the bedrock. I used the same slow, "scrubbing the bedrock" technique, but got blanked.

It was getting dark, and I went up over a big sheet of bedrock that had a lot of slump on it, a spot loaded with square nails. I got a sharp signal, moved the dirt and a square nail flew to the super-magnet. Remembering my buddy's counsel, I scanned the spot again. Once again, that same soft, sweet tone I'd found earlier.

Only this time, the bedrock was different, solid, no leaves or sheets, just solid, hard stuff. I worked hard with my pick, went down a couple of inches, and out popped a nice, flat, nugget. By this time, I was beginning to think that maybe this was my day, and I'd better scan the spot again. Perhaps there was something lucky or sound in that technique. I did, and there was another signal, but I could not break the rock anymore with my pick.

So, I headed back to the tent for a masonry chisel and my small sledge, and a flashlight because it was dark! My buddy came back with me, and he made the bedrock chips fly. Every time he chipped out a chunk, I'd scan again, and the signal got louder. Yet, down four inches, the signal moved. Up on the side of the hole, in some bits and broken chunks of rock, the signal rang sharp and clear. Nestled in it was a little beauty with a pot belly and a very flat end.

I rattled the gold around in my gold bottle, six sassy nuggets in one day! It seems when the gold finally comes, it does so with a rush.


Update: I went back later to that solid bedrock with the Falcon MD 20 and got a couple more grams of gold from those cracks!

All the best,


Lanny

Offline Xplore

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Re: Chasing the gold with Lanny
« Reply #113 on: January 16, 2020, 12:01:23 AM »
This nugget finding story is pure gold Lanny.

If there's anything I've learned about prospecting it's this - if you're in a historically proven area then keep going - eventually you'll hit it.

-Xplore
North Vancouver, BC

Offline Lanny

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Re: Chasing the gold with Lanny
« Reply #114 on: January 16, 2020, 05:06:56 PM »
This nugget finding story is pure gold Lanny.

If there's anything I've learned about prospecting it's this - if you're in a historically proven area then keep going - eventually you'll hit it.

-Xplore

Such truth in what you say,  but many rookies think they'll find an undiscovered strike by testing unproven ground.  Far better use of their time to stick to where it's been found at first . . .

All the best, and thanks for your note,

Lanny

Offline Lanny

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Re: Chasing the gold with Lanny
« Reply #115 on: January 16, 2020, 05:07:24 PM »
Just thought I'd post this: Move Those Rocks!

One of the greatest mistakes I see made in gold country by eager rookies, is the mistake of not wanting to move the rocks--the ones in the channel, or the ones high-and-dry out of the present channel. I'll see people pecking around the rocks, dipping the tip of their shovels between the rocks to get as much material as they can, but not using the elbow grease necessary to move those rocks!

Especially the rocks stacked on bedrock--the ones thrown up there by higher, faster moving water long since gone. Sure, there's often clay, and maybe roots, and other crap jammed in there, and it's most certainly tough digging, but that's the dance you need to step to in order to find the good stuff.

I you dig around in the sand and the loose stuff, you'll most often get a little fine gold, and those specks can be pretty, but the better stuff needs some serious moving of nastier material.

The bigger rocks travel with, and drop out with the nicer gold. Generally, so do the darker rocks (at least up here)--for some reason, many of the heavier rocks are darker. I know the old timers used to look for darker, stained, heavy rocks. Also, don't be afraid to get to the very bottom of any cracks or crevices you uncover. Trust me, the gold loves to get down there as far as it can--so you should too. Also, watch what's coming out of the crevice--there should be lots of little packed stones and often some clay too. Wash it all very carefully--break up any bits of clay--mush them around on the bottom of your pan until they dissolve. I've found some very nice gold trapped in clay jammed in crevices!

So, don't be afraid to move those rocks, and be exhaustive in your efforts to clean out the cracks and crevices. Remember that specific gravity should be your guide--most of the time the nicer gold travels with the beefier rocks, and the pieces of steel, and the lead fishing weights. . .

All the best,

Lanny

Offline Lanny

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Re: Chasing the gold with Lanny
« Reply #116 on: Yesterday at 06:13:36 PM »
Lost Drift-Mine Cache

Quite a few summers back, I heard a fascinating story, one set in a mountainous, heavily wooded area with pines, firs, balsams, birches, and aspens. The forest floor is covered in undergrowth, dark canyons abound in the wilderness area, but somehow a tiny human population clings to civilization.

The only way to get to the goldfields is by logging road, always dangerous, often terrifying. Wildlife abound in the cool climate: deer, moose, elk, wolverine, fisher or martin, cougar, grizzly and black bear. And for humans, the far northern latitude ensures ice on the fire bucket in the outfitters tent even on summer mornings.

In that vast northland, rushing streams of icy water race from the mountains into deep glacial lakes, while slower streams are choked with alders. Dark, alpine peaks loom in every direction, their lower reaches covered in deep deposits of boulder clay (thick masses of clay and rock dropped by glaciers), ones that cover ancient streambeds rich in coarse placer.

These thick deposits of boulder clay roof the dark world of the solitary drift miner, for to follow the gold, the miner must find a bedrock outcrop, then tunnel beneath the clay by hand while drifting along the bedrock contours. Constant shoring of the mine is essential (with hand-cut timbers and lagging) to prevent cave-ins.

It is brutal, backbreaking work, as the tunnel height is kept as low to save on materials and labour. As well, boulders are a battle, with the drift-miner detouring over, around, or under the blockages. In addition, when rich ground is hit the miner “rooms out” a large area with parallel tunnels, backfilling as the work progresses. The work is lonely, with long, tedious days, but as the work is done underground, a constant temperature above freezing allows winter-long work, during the long, dark winters. In the spring, when the freshets (spring runoff) start, the pay pile is sluiced with the coarse gold placed in either a poke, or a tobacco can, or in coffee cans when the take is heavy.

Thus some setting and the context for the tale that follows:

Late one chilly evening, as we sat around a warm campfire, the local placer miners told of how several years previous, a reclusive member of their tiny community failed to appear at the log-built community store and post office for his weekly visit.

In the tiny community settlement, every resident rendezvous on the same day, mail day. The miners, loggers, and trappers take time to socialize and to catch up on the news. Clearly, in such a remote area, anytime someone breaks a routine, the locals head out to see what’s wrong.

Sadly, the searchers found the miner dead in his cold cabin. On his table was a nice tub of rich gold concentrates. Coarse it was too. Everything in the cabin was peaceful and in order. No foul play, the miner had passed quietly away in his sleep, off to the big nugget mine in the sky.

The mystery is that as a dedicated drift-miner, he had been mining full-time for decades in a great spot. Yes, decades. His diggings were located on great gold-producing ground. Everyone knew it was so as he always paid for his supplies at the community store in nuggety gold. (They still take gold as payment even today; there’s a set of scales on the store counter.)

However, as is the case in that tiny community, many live alone, just as the dead miner did. So, the local recluses exist without the companionship of spouse or family. They seem to thrive in the solitude.

On a side note, some of the more colorful, mysterious characters there won't allow you to take their photograph (under any circumstances!), which hints of being on the run. In fact, certain ones are. Some have been hiding out since the Vietnam war, unaware that a pardon has been granted.

On a different note, there is no local bank for gold deposits. The nearest bank is four to six hours away, the time depending on the uncertain road conditions. Moreover, heading to the city suits only those that WANT to get out; some never take the opportunity, preferring solitude and isolation.

To return to the story, the deceased miner was working a rich, ancient tertiary channel that resided with stubborn determination under a steep cliff of boulder clay. He had spent endless summers and winters of unimaginable effort tunneling along the bedrock, doggedly staying with the ever-fickle gold. It is understood that the miner's golden challenge is a riddle that forever taunts to be solved, a quest to find the solution to a mystery left eons ago by a coy Mother Nature. Regardless of Mother Nature’s efforts, the miner had solved the riddle; he was one of the masters.

For those of you that have seen old placer drift mines, you are familiar with how the tunnel's low height forces the miner to work in a perpetual, stooped condition. Thus, the reason why so many of the Old-timer's walked permanently hunched over. Clearly, the drift miner's work was backbreaking, formidable, and uncertain, but in the miner’s mind, there was always hope.

On a related note, I have gazed into those still dripping, cold, damp tunnels while trying to imagine only a pick and shovel to excavate the stubborn ancient river channel, filled with endless cobbles, stubborn cemented material, and mammoth, defiant boulders. Moreover, the constant fear of cave-ins must have been an endless strain.

I must confess that I was too dumb to realize that people still mined using such old methods. I assumed they had vanished decades earlier. Nonetheless, other determined miners still use this method of hand-mining, just as the dead miner from the small community did.

As the deceased miner had no family that anyone in the community was aware of, the locals declared a treasure hunt to try to locate the cache.

They found nothing.

As I pass through this long winter, somewhere deep in that primeval northern forest there resides a rich treasure, one once claimed from Mother Nature, yet now silently reclaimed, trusted to her timeless care yet again.

All the best,

Lanny


Offline Slatco

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Re: Chasing the gold with Lanny
« Reply #117 on: Today at 07:14:23 AM »
Great story Lanny! Just out of curiosity a while back, I made a inquiry with the mines inspector who is in charge my permit to see if old school drift mining using wood lagging and cribbing could still be done nowadays. He said it could but the drift would need to be signed off by a engineer with clear procedures of the sets required. Also a full ventilation plan and rescue plans would be required. My take away was it would not be possible as a 1 man operation due to safety.

Offline White Dog

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Re: Chasing the gold with Lanny
« Reply #118 on: Today at 08:31:03 AM »
I knew an old timer that did that. It collapsed at night while he was sleeping and he was too afraid to ever try it again...……..I would have been too

 


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