Over the centuries, the natural forces at work around the planet, including volcanoes, erosion and shifting tectonic plates, led to large amounts of gold being concentrated in the mountains of California. The California gold rush first began in 1848, after news of newly discovered gold brought 300,000 people to California. The huge amounts of gold being unearthed brought economic boosts to many parts of California. Now, half a century later, gold prospecting has once again risen to popularity in the area, with many modern day gold miners hoping to find a part of the fortune for themselves.
Gold prospecting is something that is not just left to the experts. Many people that are new to it are choosing to give it a go, and there are now an increasing number of recreational prospectors, who pan for gold as a hobby. Panning for gold involves the use of an inexpensive dish-like device, which separates gold particles from mud, dirt and other elements found in water and in the ground.
If you are looking for the part of California that has the most spots that have led to success when gold panning, the north of the state is the place to go. The Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park allows people to pan along the American River, whilst the Auburn State Recreation Area offer prospecting along all of its permanently running stream beds. One of the northernmost places to go searching for gold is the Malakoff Diggins State Park, which offers a 25 mile stretch of river where you can pan for gold, surrounded by huge cliffs that were formed by the diggers during the first gold rush.
Central and Southern California
Central California is the best place to learn more about gold panning and the gold rush. The Millerton Lake State Recreation Area offers gold tours, as well as gold panning on specific Saturdays during the year. In Southern California, about two hours away from Los Angeles, you will find the Red Rock Canyon State Park, which was the site where a gold nugget weighing 14 ounces was found. Gold panning is offered along all of the streams in this area.
Gold Mining Claims
There are many clubs that own various gold mining claims on federal land, and allow members to prospect for gold at these claims. Many people also find and stake their own claims, marking the area and paying a fee to the government, entitling them to own any valuable minerals that are found in that area. People mark their claims using all sorts of objects, such as a pile of rocks or wooden pillars.
Due to the large amounts of money at stake when it comes to gold prospecting, many successful prospectors are extremely secretive in regards to the exact location where they found their gold. Understandably, they do not want large companies arriving and staking a claim in that area. If you have not spent a significant amount of time studying locations, finding a life-changing amount of gold is not only difficult, but quite rare. However, gold prospecting in California is a great recreational hobby and is also a fun way to immerse yourself in the rich history of the area.