was actually born in the wilds of New Mexico. On a month long
prospecting trip to a gold bearing region that is 40 miles
from the nearest water, 80 miles from the nearest grocery
store and who knows how far from the nearest internet connection,
we found ourselves stranded with little information about
the area we were prospecting.
were having some success, but as usual looking for the good
stuff. While working the drywasher, the recirculating sluice
and the metal detector we had lots of time to speculate and
theorize about the best place to dig. But that's all we could
do. We had no real information on this area to guide us to
wanted to know where else we could prospect in the area. We
wanted to understand the nature of what we were seeing on
the ground. The stream bed we were working had obviously been
dug up and the land altered. Where did the water flow historically?
What was the source of the gold in the area? Where were the
met many prospectors during that month who had arrived just
like us.....with lots of equipment, lots of ideas and virtually
no real information about where we were and where the best
place to look for gold would be. We met locals who did know
where there was gold, some even showed us their finds. But
most were not very forthcoming about where exactly it came
from. (Go figure.)
one of the prospectors who came through, including us, could
identify the bounds of the claim we were working. All of them
had a difficult time finding it in the first place. We did
not know what other areas around were open to prospecting.
of the prospectors left with no gold at all. Each of them
had only a few days to spend on the claim. Most of their time
was spent wandering with a metal detector, sampling the stream
bed and basically hoping for good luck. Over the course of
a whole month, what we found is that everyone basically parked,
camped and prospected unsuccessfully in the exact same place.
were two prospectors, from Oklahoma who were quite successful
in their prospecting trip. They told us that their wives gave
them 2 weeks each year to take a prospecting trip and hinted
that they better find gold if they wanted to go again next
year. They studied, and researched and came prepared to make
the best of their time on site. They hit the ground running
and they found gold. I'd be willing to bet they were back
the next year.
we returned home, we began to search for information about
the area. We found that the government provides lots of information
that prospectors can use. You can get claims information,
topo maps, mines data, hydrology data and more from the US
Government. Their are several providers of streaming satellite
imagery available on the internet.
getting the right data for the area we were looking for required
a lot of research time, a high speed internet connection,
lots of patience and sometimes expensive or complicated software.
No one offered a map of existing claims and the process of
plotting the claims found only at the County Recorder was
a major effort. Even with the data in hand there was no easy
way to consolidate it into a clear, comprehensive view of
the area we wanted to prospect.
decided then that we would find a way to help ourselves and
fellow prospectors. The FootPrints mapping program is the
takes more than luck for most of us to become successful prospectors.
why we make FootPrints.