Gold in West Virginia is quite limited. Around the turn of the last century, there was some very short lived excitement relating to the discovery of quartz veins containing gold, but further investigation revealed little or no actual gold associated with the quartz.
Further prospecting over the last century has not yielded any appreciable amounts of native gold occurring within quartz. There are no commercial gold mines operating in West Virginia.
Despite the lack of gold found within quartz, very small quantities of gold can be found within the state. As with almost any state, very tiny specks of gold have been reported to be found in several creeks and rivers. None of these discoveries have garnered much attention, as the gold present is generally “fly speck” sized, and even exhaustive mining in these areas are unlikely to produce more than just a glimpse of color in the bottom of a gold pan.
Still, recreational gold prospectors are a persistent bunch, and many consider a hard days work to produce a few cents worth of gold a great way to spend the day! There is also a GPAA chapter in West Virginia dedicated to gold prospecting, beginners would be well advised to join their local prospecting club to get help from veteran prospectors as well as some first hand knowledge on gold prospecting within the state.
Anyone considering prospecting for gold in West Virginia would be well advised to focus some attention a few hours to the east. The Carolina Slate belt runs through the central parts of Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, and contains some of the richest gold areas in the eastern U.S. The first gold discovery in the U.S. was at the Reed Gold Mine in 1799, and was followed by numerous other discoveries throughout the area.
Within the slate belt are numerous gold mines, with historic production of gold in both lode and placer deposits. Considering its relatively close proximity to West Virginia, a prospector would likely have more success focusing their attention in this area.
Keep in mind that private property can be an issue here. With mainly private lands in the area, always be sure to get written permission from the landowners before doing and prospecting.