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Detecting for gold - finding bits of mining history


New member
When it comes to metal detecting, I consider myself an old prospector trying a modern day method. As a novice to this type of nugget hunting technique, it sure has tested my patience in previous outings. Fortunately I chose a wooded draw that was so secluded that even hunting was nonexistent. To me, that spelled NO TRASH. Best of all,,, I knew it held Chinese placer workings. With that said, I arrived at the site and went on the walk about with the metal detector. Within minutes, I had encountered my first set of Chinese hand stacked walls. As I peered further up the draw, I saw much of the same (see photo #1). During this pause, I dwelled on the number of workers it took to stack such walls and the amount of gold they must have recovered. If only history could talk, I asked my self.

Throughout the day's search, my Fisher Gold Bug metal detector didn't pick up on any trashy items, nor did it signal any response to shell casings or lead. That was a good thing. However, the search to uncover some gold eluded me. Generally, this region is high in mineralization but there was very little signal throughout the first part of this morning's search. As I worked the Bug diligently, I started to speculate whether I would find anything. Little did I know what the afternoon would hold. After a relaxing 20 minute lunch break, I started to work the higher portion of this draw. My first hit was in a spring fed mossy tailing pile area (photo #2). It was a loud hit and it begged for me to dig. A minute or two later I unearthed my first find, an axe head (photo #3). That nice find sent a spark into this old prospector and further up I detected. Soon, another hit would sound off. Like the last location, this mark was also in a spring fed area (photo #4). This time my patience was in check and so I dug with a little more caution. Moments later, the hole would reveal a rustic miner's cup (photo #5). The weather turned bad shortly after that, putting a stop to all prospecting. I was pleased with how the day had turned out and so I left that draw to return when mother nature was bit more pleasant.


New member
Weeks later I found the time (and weather permitting) to return to "the draw." I quickly by passed the lower Chinese section and arrived at the spring fed mossy area. Within an hours time, I had numerous small signal hits. The better part of those hits took place on the East side of a China wall, beneath an old fallen tree root (see photo #1). From this one location, I trenched out roughly a 1/2 pound of old square nails. I suspect that these remains may have come from the miner's sluice boxes / rocker boxes. Also in this hole, I found a wonderful quartz specimen. Photos 2 & 3 illustrate these finds. The day was not over as another find would cap off my Gold Bug adventure. A few passes with the M-Scope on an upper bank sent this box screaming. So much so, that I thought I was onto a heap of scrap metal. A log rested nearly on top and rather than struggled a bit with the digging I retrieved a Stihl chainsaw which lay on my ATV only a few hundred yards away. A quick cut and a few inches of digging brought forth a spectacular find. There in front of me was a broken 1800's mining shovel. The plated hand rivets backed these findings (see last 3 photos). For a brief moment a pondered. I wondered how the man who last held this shovel must have felt when trying to make a day's living and those chances were shattered by perhaps a single unforgiving stone. It makes a prospector re-live those times when an artifact like this is found. Though no golden nuggets were found in this adventure but I did find refuge in knowing that the mining that took place in this draw, was one of great proportions. To unearth some of histories past is a golden moment in itself. Kudos to those that metal detect and feel the same way I do. Cheers - Randy


New member
Looks like some great finds and some nice scenery Idaho. The quartz specimen is a nice one indeed. Did you do any panning up there, or just use the Gold Bug? HH and GL

Hoser John

New member
Looks like your having fun anyhow,decent relic finds beats nuttn' Gems,minerals,relics and gold all make my day and fill my pocket too-great pics thanx much for the tag along-John


New member
Since metal detecting, I did make several attempts to pan sample the draw. I sampled a bank opposite a China wall and in the spring itself but had no luck. There was numerous tree roots, moss, clay and rocks, making the process very difficult. I dug to a depth that held a floor of decomposed granite. What baffled me the most was - there was no evidence of black sands, hematite, magnetite, nor garnets in the gravels. Yet, there was quartz rock everywhere. I realize that the Chinese worked their areas thoroughly but I didn't realize they sent the black sands back to China! Lol. It's obvious there was gold here at one time and I know 2 attempts at finding it doesn't constitute that there is none. However with such a big area that contains tailings that I couldn't hand stack in a life time, it makes a guy wonder where to begin. It's quite possible that the small creek I see there now is not in the place it was back then and may have been altered by these workings. This "draw" definitely is a mystery to me and it will require more investigation. I have included a few more pictures and I welcome any & all suggestions.
I really enjoy these reports and your writing style and the photos. The treasure is certainly in the eye of the beholder. Obviously the gold is there somewhere. Maybe higher up??


New member
Great looking place and great looking quartz specie too. Love finding the old mining relics as a by catch. But boy what a difficult looking place to detect properly with all the ground cover.
Cool pic's, I love seeing where others hunt overseas. :thumbup:


New member
More discovery to this “China Draw:” One never knows what artifacts might be found during a prospecting adventure. Once again history unveils a partial wooden bench made by hand and a broken spade shovel blade - guessing the date to be early 1860's. Also an additional 2 pieces of quarts rocks were unearthed in the same location. Got to love a mystery.


New member
Nice pics! Keep on swinging and you'll eventually connect. Country looks identical to most my areas...steep, brushy, lots of blowdown. Hate hand stackings, they make me start to sweat followed by backpain by just thinking how hard those old timers worked compared to my pussy Detecting you'll have a lot of skunks in between gold but you can always go to the river and dig/pan for the guaranteed gold to cure the itch until your detector luck changes...…
Nice winter we're having so far isn't it. Can't believe end of Dec. and no snow in my yard and raining today.....I'll take it!!!!!

Looking forward to seeing your first tector nuggie…..!!!!!