How To: Gold Farming – Quartzville Creek, Oregon
This last week I went real life Gold Farming in the Quartzville Creek area about 30 miles North East of Sweet Home, Oregon. This is Southwest of Mt. Hood and no doubt if you could get high enough you’d be able to see it. It’s also west of Mt. Jefferson.
Quartzville Creek is a public gold mining area, meaning anyone can drive up and pan the water or dredge as much as they want. Dredging permits are required and are available through the State of Oregon, and the Bureau of Land Management Office. I believe the limits is seven pounds of gold per a day, and a limit of 14 consecutive days camping in the Quartville area. There are also hundreds of private claims around here so be careful of claim markers which are usually a white post with a piece of silver tape around the top. The silver tape should include the name of the claim, it’s serial number and basic description such as “North East Corner.” They may also include longitude and latitude lines.
By far the quickest and easiest mining method is the Gold Dredge.
The Gold Dredge consists of a simple gasoline motor and water pump. The intake hose is submerged under water and held down to minimize it pulling air. In this case it was also inside a submerged plastic bucket that helped reduce any contaminants from entering the hose.
The suction of water through the dredge nozzle creates a vacuum effect. Running the nozzle across the bottom of the river picks up all sand, small rocks, and hopefully gold or other valuable minerals. Nozzle sizes range from one inch up to 12+ inches. In Oregon the largest size that can be used is 5 inches. Either way a lot of rock is moved in a very short amount of time. Even with unclogging the hose and nozzle from rocks that slipped in side ways, several cubic yards can be moved within a few hours.
As can be seen the sluice has multiple parts, the baffles which are the brass part laying on top. The green stuff is called “miner’s moss” and is a spongy carpet like thing. The sluice is angled so that the bigger rocks are washed out, but the smaller pieces including hopefully any gold nuggets and even gold flakes are caught in it. This duplicates the process found in nature, and is why it’s best to go on the downstream side of big rocks. Or as the pictures above, in the hollow formed between two bigger rocks.
The last step is pan the gold. This is process is exactly the same as it was 100+ years ago back in the good old days. But the pans have changed dramatically. First they are made of plastic so that they actually float in the water and are slightly less likely to get lost. They come in several colors, blue and neon green are the most common as well as traditional black. Blue and neon Green are chosen as they are not found in nature and help the gold stand out more when you’re panning for it.
The screens in the picture above are 1/2 inch screens that fit over a 5 gallon plastic bucket. Everything from the sluice is poured into the screen and shaken about until nothing is left to fall through. 1/4 inch screens are available, but most people simply pan 1/2 and smaller. Before cleaning the screen be sure to inspect it for any large gold nuggets or ANY kind of obvious mineralization. Holding it up to the sun and looking from the bottom is a good idea.
After screening everything left in the bucket is panned out. Panning is actually pretty simple but takes some real practice to get right. Slowly use the river to put water in the pan, do not worry too much as gold will almost always settle to the bottom. Swish the pan around then slowly scrape out the top layer of rocks and dirts. Repeat again and again until pretty much old sand remains. If you’re lucky you’ll find some bigger pieces of gold at this point.
Slowly and carefully pan the remaining sand. Hopefully you will be seeing mostly black sand and maybe even a few flakes of gold at this point. If so this process can be repeated until just gold is visible. If you’re impatient though, a gold wheel will actually do this process for you. But it’s only recommended if you’re coming up with a huge amount of black sand.
At this point I’d like to show you a picture of the gold I did find. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any due to a combination of equipment failure and possibly just not being in a good location despite all our searching. Keep in mind that gold is where you find it. There are many places that possibly hold gold, but not all do.