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Old 07-01-2012, 09:46 PM
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Default Gold Prospecting on the Arkansas River


This is the bridge north of Buena Vista, CO (pronounced Byoona Vista) that leads to the area where we went prospecting. No, it's not a secret where it is. Yes, you need a GPAA mining permit. The mountains are a lot taller in person than they appear in the picture. You simple drive across the bridge and head to the right down a broken road.


This is what the road looks like from the driver's seat. There isn't much traffic on it, just a few prospectors going back and forth now and again, but not often. There are places to pull off on both sides of the road including two main pull offs.


The BLM has installed signs for prospectors to give some basics of what to do and what not to do. My son is a digger by nature, he's got two diggers at the ready.


Here is my Keene A51A Super Mini Sluice. If you take off the flange you can fit it in a piece of luggage. It includes green carpeting and zinc coated expanded metal and several riffles. The riffles are in a welded and zinc coated frame and hold down both the expanded metal and the carpeting. It makes sense to put a big rock or a 5 gal buck filled with some water to hold it in place. You don't want to put in a lot of work and then give all your concentrates back to the river.


I stuck my underwater camera into the river so you can see that even if you don't get it 100% straight it still has decent water flow. I did straighten it out after taking the picture.


Here is a close-up of the water coming out the tail end of the sluice. You want as even a flow of water as you can.


The flange helps get more water into the sluice by grabbing more water from the stream or river. You know you have it set up correctly when you see some "V" shapes in the water.


Here is some material I found behind a big rock. The classifier is a Keene 8 mesh which means 8 squares per inch, or 1/8" squares, you can call the classifier by any three of these names and people will know what you are talking about.


After classifying with the 8 mesh the material looks like this. Its easier for the sluice to move the material after it's been classified. What classifier you use depends on the area you're prospecting in. If you have several classifiers you can try each of them with the material you find and the sluice will tell you which one to use. I have 1/2" and 1/8" classifiers, I intend to get two more sizes to have a better selection for different material.


After classifying to your chosen size then you simply feed the material into the sluice at the flange. In this picture you can see some material still clearing the sluice in addition to some more material in my scoop. In actual use you can add more material, it's tough to watch a 4 year old, take pictures and to prospect all at the same time.


After you add the material it will work it's way down the sluice by itself. Using a sluice is a lot faster than panning and the sluice does all the hard work by itself.


Here is where I had my sluice set up on the river. If you build a dam it will help you divert water into the sluice. It will also give you a place to walk if the water flow is strong.


I stuck my underwater camera into the river to show you were I was getting the material from. I didn't have a pair at the time but I recommend some work gloves that will help you from sharp object. My right pinkie found a fish hook by mistake. The river took away the fish hook before I could get a look at it.


Here is the material from the underwater picture, I'm going to put it through my 8 mesh classifier.


If you've been following this post you already know what the material will look like.


Here is a pan of a little bit of material. You can see the black sand (magnetite) and little bits of gold. You can tell it's gold and not pyrite because if you put it into a container with water it sinks really fast to the bottom, pyrite will float around like you're trying to make a powdered drink with it.


I've only run a little bit of material in this picture, but I wanted to show you what the riffles and expanded metal do to the material as it passed through the sluice.


It helps during cleanup to use magnified tweezers. I bought these ones at Harbor Freight for a few dollars. They're better than the ones included in the Garrett Pan kit. The Garrett ones are plastic and the magnifier can't be adjusted to different angles. By adjusting the angle you can change the magnification because you can hold the magnifier farther away from the piece you want to inspect in your sluice. You can see me going for a piece of gold that got caught in the initial section of carpeting.


Here is another little piece of gold that got stuck in the black ribbed matting in the flange. Sometimes the pieces in the ribbed matting are really stubborn and want to stay in their new found home.


Ideally you want to rinse off the expanded metal in a 5 gal bucket with the expanded metal placed end up, but I didn't have one with me so I just used a pan.


Here is the basic kit I've used in this forum post. It's not expensive to put together this kit, less than even an entry level metal detector.


Here is the view of one of the Collegiate Peaks (the 14ers) from the access road on the way out. The scenery in Colorado is simply awe inspiring.

I hope I can inspire more people to take up prospecting. I guarantee you it's as much fun as detecting.

Regards, Tom

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Old 07-02-2012, 09:03 AM
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What is a GPAA mining permit and how do you get one? Plan on going camping this weekend somewhere around Buena Vista. Just picked up a Wolf trap Sluice and need to get it wet. Do you only need one permit per sluice? My bro. and bro-in- law are coming with.
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:54 AM
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Excellent post! It felt like I was there!

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Old 07-02-2012, 10:23 AM
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Nice Pictures! The rocks look a bit similar to the California gold areas,pleasant just to look at. But I enjoy detecting more than panning Happy hunting!

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Old 07-02-2012, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by bigsittingrock View post
What is a GPAA mining permit and how do you get one? Plan on going camping this weekend somewhere around Buena Vista. Just picked up a Wolf trap Sluice and need to get it wet. Do you only need one permit per sluice? My bro. and bro-in- law are coming with.
All you do is join the GPAA. The membership includes the mining permit and a big claims book the size of a phonebook. I joined for two years, but they have one year memberships too.

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Old 07-05-2012, 10:08 PM
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Default Cool Thread

Nice informative thread. I am heading to CO. Saturday. I will be out near Ouray and the San Jaun Mountains. Beautiful out there. Gold mines everywhere out there.
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Old 07-05-2012, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by fred sanford View post
Nice informative thread. I am heading to CO. Saturday. I will be out near Ouray and the San Jaun Mountains. Beautiful out there. Gold mines everywhere out there.
i was just there had a ball rode the train from durango to silverton

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Old 07-05-2012, 10:35 PM
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great thread how much did you find?

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Old 07-05-2012, 10:49 PM
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Great photos. Thanks for posting.

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Old 07-05-2012, 11:29 PM
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That day about a pennyweight. I didn't spend much time prospecting, mostly chasing my son around the side of the river trying to keep him nearby. He's only four. The other thing, in the middle of the summer the snowmelt is heavy and the Arkansas River flows pretty strongly. I actually recommend going to Cache Creek if you're there in the summertime and then later towards the fall go to the Arkansas River when the water flow lessens. Mostly I wanted to show you guys a little bit about it and what is involved.

Regards, Tom

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Old 07-07-2012, 10:37 PM
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Default Nice

That's a really informative thread, thank you for the pictures and details!

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Old 07-10-2012, 09:47 PM
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Default Gold Prospecting

Really enjoyed your thread, my wife and I have recently taken up prospecting, itching to go again, but this is the rainy season so the rivers can be dangerous here in Panama,

Have you tried crevicing or sniping for gold, some of the crevices are more productive than digging to china, plus its easier on my old body.

Bought a Mackirk AU trap sluice, anxious to try it out, thanks again

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Old 07-10-2012, 10:32 PM
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That looks fun!

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Old 07-13-2012, 01:45 AM
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Thumbs up Great picks while your close by try

http://www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com/ i am sure your better half won't mind,i alway's wanted to try Gold prospecting,congrad's your doing it,keep us posted on your trip sucess,Earl
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Old 07-13-2012, 03:45 AM
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Wow!
Great Pics and story Tom!
Thanks for taking the time to post this. Very informative!
Would you believe we have the Arkansas River flowing thru Wichita?
Yep, both the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers make their way thru our fair city.

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Old 07-15-2012, 12:46 PM
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Nice to know you went on your gold prospecting adventure with your son like you said you would in the chat. You did a great job with the description of the area and the pics!

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Old 07-15-2012, 03:50 PM
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Great thread. Thanks for the info!
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