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Gold Country: Some Random Things to Share

Our part of the world is best known for being the place that gold was discovered in California back in 1848. We live very close to the South Fork of the American River and in fact, we spend much of our outdoor time in or around the water of this river. My parents live even closer to the actual gold discovery spot and have remains of an old town where the Chinese workers came to work in the mines and along the river.

The river was used for hydraulic mining which destroyed much of the habitat and you can still see remains of ditches dug for diverting water and piles of river rock where the soil was washed away looking for gold. The scars remain even today.

So much history left behind for us to explore and experience today.

This is an abandoned mine that we discovered on our regular hiking trail. This was taken a month or so ago and we were just there yesterday and it looks very different. The water level has dropped inside the mine and you can step inside a little to check it out. The water is not raining down inside as heavily either. The plants around the opening are getting green and somewhat covering up the entrance.

We took a hike to a different part of the river two weeks ago and it had lots of rocks that looked like this with the quartz encased in the other rocks.

This short video gives you an idea of what the rock and the river is like where we are. In the beginning of the video you will hear my husband’s narrative….please know he was trying to be silly. Don’t miss me almost falling into the river at one point… the rocks are hard to walk on especially when you are taking a video.

We had packed along our gold pans and the boys tried their hand at finding some gold. No luck this day.

The water was really cold and they decided there is a definite skill to panning. We wondered about the gold miners back in the 1800’s and how they must have remained motivated by either their success or the success of others around them. It is back breaking work.

On another hike, we saw this guy alongside the river on the North Fork getting ready to start using his sluice box for gold mining. Here is an easy explanation of how a sluice box works. My husband has used one before and he says it just is an easier way to sift through the gravel looking for flakes of gold. He took a geology class where they actually did gold dredging in this river and he was surprised that there still is quite a bit of gold if you take the time to look for it.

I bet you don’t see this very often. We have one place that we like to hike to along the river because it has a perfect spot for skipping rocks when the water is low. We went there the other day and for the first time we saw these signs posted everywhere. I have to do some research because as far as I know, this place is on Bureau of Land Management land which seems like an unlikely place for someone to post a mining claim. Anyone know how that works?
Edit: Here is a link to answer my questions: BLM FAQ

Well, I hope you enjoyed my little glimpse into the gold country around our house. It is something that interests my boys so we might just need to tackle a geology course and use mining as the basis for our study. We already have a ton of rocks that we have collected over the years to study and identify. I should look at it as a project.

Quartz samples

3 thoughts on “Gold Country: Some Random Things to Share

  1. Barb- We must be fairly close in location…I grew up visiting the gold discovery site…and have many good memories of running around the grassy areas at the park. My husband and I now like to bring our children there to visit and play…although we haven’t been since the youngest was born (she doesn’t travel well) in 2006. We’re closer to “80” than “50” so our stomping ground as of late has been in that direction, although the kiddos and I make at least one trip each year up the hill to get our apples! I think I’ll be checking out the hikes along the South Fork.

  2. We just studied the California Gold Rush and I’ll have to share this post with my daughter. How fascinating!

  3. Barb, thanks for sharing. Yeah, we’re sort of pathetic (smile), but we do what we can.

    I never miss a post of yours. I subscribe via reader to both of your blogs.

    It was always a childhood dream to pan for gold and hunt for gems. I always loved rocks.

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