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Gold Diggers: Prospecting On the Rise Across America


“There’s gold everywhere. You just gotta look for it."

Think the gold rush is a thing for the Wild West that came and went in the mid-1800s? Think again. Not only are more people investing in gold as a secure commodity, but some are taking gold acquisition into their own hands the old fashioned way, finding it themselves.

Even though the price of gold dropped this month, it's still more than double its value.

The Grand Rapids Press reports some Michiganders are doing some local gold digging:

“There’s gold everywhere. You just gotta look for it,” said Roy Richards, a prospector who lives near Hastings. “Just take some gravel and shake it up and look in your pan.

“Every once in a while you’ll run into a nice lode of gold.”


“They’d find something in 15 minutes,” said Brad Lasco, owner of Barkus Park Campground in Lyons, east of Ionia off M-21. “It’s amazing, really, the concentrations of gold here in Michigan. There hasn’t been anybody that’s come down here (to the campground) that hasn’t found gold.”

Most hobbyist gold prospectors find gold digging a fun pastime, but don't stake your retirement on this method. The Press reported Warren Bennet, president of the Gold Prospectors Association of America as saying it's “usually not even paying your gas to get there."

But, New York Times photography blog documented an increase in more-than-just-hobby gold mining earlier this year following one photographer's work. According to the Times, Sarina Finkelstein started her project "Prospectors" in 2009 and she has since found that amateur gold diggers come from all walks of life. The Times has more:

“There is this psychological feeling of gold fever out there, and they’re completely hooked,” she said. “Even their finding the littlest piece propels them to keep going.”

Many prospectors are not motivated only by money. Among Ms. Finkelstein’s subjects is Martin Jennings of Hallsville, Mo., a town 10 miles from her hometown of Columbia. Mr. Jennings sold his farm at age 50 and moved to California to live in the wilderness with a friend. He left his wife and children behind.

When Mr. Jennings discovers gold, he dispatches others to sell it for him. The proceeds go toward prospecting supplies.

“It’s all about the digging — the work, the search, the continued potential for discovery,” he told Ms. Finkelstein. “The river, the mountains — this is my front yard.”


“The income isn’t steady, but sometimes they find a $5,000 nugget,” she said. “In a way, I guess that’s not so different from the life of a freelance photographer.”

In terms of finding gold, it could be anywhere, although the West remains more abundant. The most simple thing to do is head out to a local stream with a shovel and sifting pan. This video describes the best locations in a stream where gold could be found.

This video gives you some tips on where to find gold when searching in streams:

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More advanced gold hunting techniques include metal detectors, sluicing (using a special devise and the water current to find gold) and pumps.

This is an example of how a sluice box works:

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