Want to strike it rich panning for gold? Well, while that may no longer be a possibility – most of the gold mines were found during the great gold rush and have been mined dry – you can still have a lot of fun prospecting for gold in Sierra County, California. While you might not find enough of the precious metal to retire wealthy, you may be pleasantly surprised to find a few valuable nuggets here and there.
The Lode Gold Mines are the main source of gold in Sierra County and have produced over 2,160,000 documented ounces of gold since prospectors moved into the area. However, the total is more than likely over 3,000,000 ounces, as most of the gold discovered prior to 1880 wasn’t actually documented. Another 2,170,000 ounces have come from the Allegheny and Downieville districts, and the streams in these areas are great places to pan for gold. In addition, several mines lie on the Kanaka Creek, making it a quite popular place for panning. Finally, Sierra City’s Sierra Buttes Mine round out the top three gold producing mines with a hefty 825,000 ounces of gold found so far.
If you’re planning a trip to California, you won’t want to miss out on this opportunity. There are several areas in Sierra County that are popular for prospecting for gold, including the following:
Indian Hill – This area in western Sierra County is located near the city of Downieville in the Brandy City District. The Indian Hill and Depot Hill mines the two main spots for gold production – these areas were heavily mined during the 1850s, and by the late 1880s they were mostly abandoned. Since then, they’ve been mined off and on up through the 1930s. Recently, several nuggets have been prospected in the Depot Hill mine, some of which weighed over a pound each. Quartz crystals can also be found in both mines, and the Indian Hill mine has been known to contain gold quartz veins.
Kanaka Creek, as mentioned previously, is another popular location for mining gold. It’s one of the richest creeks in Sierra County, especially below the Kenton Mine. Several large nuggets and quartz crystals have recently been found in the Kanaka Creek.
Slate Creek is another great place to find white quartz and quartz with gold in it. It’s an especially nice place for amateur prospectors or those who enjoy recreationally mining for gold, as generally, even a beginner can find an ounce of gold or so in about a week.
Oregon Creek is another good creek to pan for gold in, especially near the Trios Mine. Some nice nuggets have been found in the area, as well as smaller pieces of gold.
Finally, the Yuba River is a great place to pan for gold, in part because it replenishes itself each year and contains a great amount of gold. In fact, this river was the site of the discovery of “Lure,” a 22 pound gold nugget, although many other good sized nuggets have been found in the river.