June 6, 2010

Historical Placer Operations

We just returned from a terrific month long prospecting trip to Greaterville, AZ. I did a lot of research on the history of the area while we were there. Part of the research was intended to help us identify where the earlier placer operations took place. It was reported that the placer gold was mostly found in the gulches and sitting on the bedrock. So it was important to us to be able to recognize signs that someone else had already pulled up the ground. I'm not interested in digging several feet down to bedrock anymore.

In some areas it was obvious where the workings are. Pits and piles everywhere or bedrock scraped. In other areas its not so obvious.

With an educated eye and an understanding of early placer operations you can get a better feel for where the gold might be.

I wanted to share with you some of the places I go to research older placer workings. By studying images of past operations, you will be able to better visualize what was done in the past in known placer areas.


Placer Tailings, Folsom City, CA 1905
Courtesy of the USGS Photographic Library.

Here are some great links to libraries that have good mining related collections.

On each of these links I have already entered a search for "placer mining".

New York Public Library

Online Archive of California

Library of Congress

Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks

USGS Photographic Library

There is plenty of other great stuff in the collections if you search other topics.

I hope you enjoy browsing the libraries as much as I do.


Miner Diggins FootPrints - Serious Maps for Serious Prospectors