Living right next to the gold fields here in Arizona has its advantages. For one thing, a guy can get out into the field pretty quickly. Having several spots to detect within 20 minutes of the house is great and within an hours drive, it’s practically unlimited. If my family goes out for a hike anywhere near the house, we’re always in gold country and if I don’t have my detector with me, I can prospect with my eyes and my brain, taking notes for future forays. Heck, if I just want to see a little color, it’s not 2 miles to the richest (documented) gold strike in Arizona at Lynx Creek. I’ve spent a lot of time around this area just walking up and down the creeks and checking out what there is to see and you can learn a lot just by looking.
One thing I’ve noticed lately, say within the past year or more is the increased incidence of hunkered down individuals on the creek. These are guys who have a spot they are working hard. Now, I’m not just talking about the kind of hole a guy might visit on weekends or even every day after work. I’m talking about the kinds of holes that are under 12 or 13 hours a day of direct miner occupancy. These holes are defacto claimed and their owners are there working them and protecting them from dawn until dusk. The type of work is not light work either, it’s deep individual hand tool work where the miner is placering WAY down to bedrock and working really hard to get there. I’m aware of this one section of creek where three miners are working about a 100 ft stretch of creek and are practically creating new hand cobbled piles along the side. They work, don’t look at or talk to one another and generally don’t talk much at all. I know these guys are doing it for a living and probably not a great one but when other options are slim, it’s what they do. I don’t have any particular conclusions about it but am just saying I’m seeing a lot more of it. A natural result of a flagging economy and an elevated price of gold.
Ever consider gold prospecting for a living?With gold prices as high as they are, the lure of gold and gold prospecting can be a mighty pull for many. You’ve heard of gold fever. It can make you do some strange things. Most of it is based on your character rather than the gold having any particular power. Still, the thought of getting rich quick in the gold fields with a drywasher or even worse, a detector, can be a strong feeling and some feel, despite the evidence and advice to the contrary, that they can overcome the odds and strike it rich.Most of the guys that think this way frankly don’t have the experience to even have a remote chance of finding an area that will pay marginally. Those that do have the experience, know that even the best days don’t come very often and won’t pay for everything associated with prospecting. Think about it. If you could get rich metal detecting or working a gold claim, wouldn’t the major players be doing it? They aren’t. Even the placer mining corporations that are doing it are focused only on the richest areas that will pay the largest dividends. Gold mining is an expensive venture no matter what level of the game you wish to play it at.Let’s take the level most amateurs go at it and let’s go further and say that you’ve found open ground that seems good. You’ve got your equipment which is typically pretty expensive even if it’s purchased used. How about your truck. Most gold areas cannot be readily got to with a passenger car. The roads are rough and put a lot of wear and tear on the vehicle. Not to mention putting gas into a low mileage vehicle. Just in the past two weeks, I’ve put about 600 miles on the truck. The gas was a lot. Then, I noticed a problem and had to take it into the shop. $1000. Oh and just to be safe, two new front tires. $300. Those were cheap. Granted, not every single week will be this expensive but the little $20 nugget you see only paid for gas on the one trip out. Maybe it will lead to more, but I doubt it will cover the cost of fixing the truck. It’s possible to have a great day and do that, but realistically it just doesn’t happen that often.Take heed and be realistic, especially when starting out. You are not going to buy a detector and start making a living. You’ll not purchase a gold claim on Ebay and be able to retire by working it. As G.M. Butler put it in his preface to Arizona Gold Placers and Placering – “A person not in robust health or one who has not sufficient funds to finance his entire trip runs a splendid chance of starving to death if he tackles placer mining in Arizona.”
Eegads, budget woes come to haunt us. The State of Arizona Mines and Mineral Resources is scheduled to close permanently. Like the staff, I wonder what will happen to the records?? Pretty amazing stuff there if you know what to look for. The museum is cool too.
If you are interested in the release go here:
Obviously, the time to archive whatever can be accessed via their website would be now.
This really sucks.
Darn. We almost made it the whole year. Here’s to you and your’s, a happy New Year from Goldplacer. Good luck and be careful!