Author: Pete Isaacs
Sutter’s Mill, Where Gold was first discovered.
On January 24, 1848, James Wilson Marshall, a carpenter originally from New Jersey, found flakes of gold in the American River at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Coloma, California. At the time, Marshall was working to build a water-powered sawmill owned by John Sutter. On February 2, 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in Mexico City which transferred the American Southwest to the United States. When the news got out about the gold, people from all over the world headed for California, speeding statehood and permanently transforming the territory. During the next seven years, approximately 300,000 people came to California (half by land and half by sea) to seek their fortunes from either mining for gold or selling supplies like food, clothing, burros, lumber, picks, and shovels to the prospectors.
California “THE GOLDEN STATE” Some may say this is where it all began. Gold can be found here from the arid deserts to the smallest streams. With thousands of acres of B.L.M. lands and forest lands where to start prospecting can be the throw of a dart at a map. Now California is in my opinion is one of the most regulated statse in the union when it comes to prospecting. When it comes to dredging Senate bill or “SB” 637 (allen) now states.
The use of vacuum or suction dredge equipment, otherwise known as suction dredging, is currently prohibited and unlawful throughout California.
Under new state law effective January 1, 2016, the use of vacuum or suction dredge equipment is defined to mean the use of a mechanized or motorized system for removing or assisting in the removal of, or the processing of, material from the bed, bank, or channel of a river, stream, or lake in order to recover minerals.
Under existing state law the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is also currently prohibited from issuing any permits for suction dredging in California under the Fish and Game Code.
With state law in effect, the use of vacuum or suction dredge equipment, otherwise known as suction dredging, is unlawful in California rivers, streams, and lakes, and any such activity is subject to enforcement and prosecution as a criminal misdemeanor….
But don’t be discouraged we have so many other forms of prospecting you can still get out there and find the gold. There are many state parks that you can prospect. Check with park regulations as many are “HANDS AND PANS ONLY” and that is just what it means the only prospecting device is a pan. also California has the thousands of CLAIMS so be aware of signs claim markers ect. Check with local forest service office in the area you want to prospect this is key for getting correct information on any said area. Most of the forest service offices are helpful over the phone. You can go to the B.L.M. office in Sacramento as they have pamphlets on Open areas to prospect.
Cash Rock on the American River
A couple days work
Finding gold in California can be relatively easy just about any of the larger rivers Yuba, American, Feather just to name a few have free gold. If you seek a larger cache you need to do your homework it is said that all the rivers have been worked over and are panned out. They say with all the gold that has been removed since the gold rush of 1849 that 90% still remains. California has a little bit of everything I chase the Ancestral river flows that raised with the sierra mountains you can find all kinds of maps books on these old river flows that have been cross cut by todays rivers. California gold is everything from flour gold to pounds and everything in between. this year will be a good year for prospecting as California has been in a drought for years. 2017 has been a bunker year for rain and snow pack we haven’t seen for a long time. The rivers are high and moving I was recently up on the North fork Yuba at a camp ground called rocky rest the forest service has a foot bridge that crosses their and standing on that bridge you could feel the boulders crashing around in the river it is truly an awesome feeling.