There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold...
-“The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert W. Service, 1907
You remember the great gold rush of 1849. Gold fever gripped America. Tens of thousands of adventurous young men called Forty-Niners headed west to pan for gold in the rivers of California and up north in Alaska and the Yukon. Historians will tell you that gold was one of the forces that impelled the western expansion of our country.
When I think about that era in American history, several thoughts come to mind. First, I reflect that only a handful of those Forty-Niners were rewarded with great riches. But I also recall that most of those fellows were armed with pretty rudimentary equipment, like the small baskets they used to pan for gold in rivers and pickaxes that they used to dig gold granules from rock faces and river beds.
Isn’t there a chance that modern equipment of some kind will let today’s amateur gold-hunters scoop up some of the gold that the Forty-Niners left behind 160 years ago?
Modern Prospecting Equipment
It turns out that a number of companies are now making and selling prospecting equipment that the Forty-Niners could only have dreamed of back in their day. Can this equipment make you rich? It seems possible, but I think that the real point of prospecting today is probably to engage in a fun and exciting hobby – sort of like looking for gold with a metal detector, only more adventurous, since prospectors go to remote locales, not beaches or city parks.
What kind of modern equipment can you buy? Here’s a selection that you’ll find online at The Rosewind Mining Company:
- A Jobe gas-powered gold vacuum ($424.95) – This small 15-pound vacuum includes a six-foot vacuum hose and a tool that lets you suck silt and sand out of streambeds and crevices. It gathers the silt in a large plastic tub, where you can take a close look for gold nuggets.
- The Gold Cube Deluxe Gold Concentrator ($379.95) – This device uses G-force technology to separate the gold from silt and sand and other gold mining concentrates. It processes up to 1,000 pounds an hour of gold-bearing material.
- Sand scoops, tweezers, magnifying glasses, pickaxes, and panning kits (prices vary) – Low-tech is fun. The panning kits could be great for keeping your kids busy while you vacuum in the big nuggets that will pay their college costs, right?
- Gold Pokes ($4.59) – They’re traditional cowhide pouches that Forty-Niners used to carry their nuggets around. They make a big fashion statement at a very low price.
- Claim signs ($1.75 - $4.70) – You’ll want to keep these on hand in case you want to stake a claim. Even if you never find gold, they are great conversation-starters.
- 12-volt pumps ($22.95-$99.95) – These little honeys, powered by car batteries, can move a lot of water or gold-bearing silt from one place to another. You can also buy cables that let you power them right from your car’s power outlet.
- Prospecting gloves, sunglasses, hats and other apparel (prices vary) – With the right purchases, you can create just the right prospector look for yourself. The hats have big brims and fabric that covers your neck, so you won’t get sunburned when you’re out there for hours pulling in millions of dollars’ worth of gold nuggets.
Keep Our Phone Number Handy While You Pan for Gold
As a modern prospector, you have another advantage that the Forty-Niners never dreamed about. It’s your cell phone. You can use it to call America's best gold refiners, Specialty Metals, at 800-426-2344 and arrange to send us samples of the bright shiny stuff you’ve been pulling in.
Have a fun time if you decide to take up the prospecting hobby, and good luck.
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