Thursday, March 2, 2017
Klondike Gold Rush...Paydirt...and Panning for Gold
They painted a pretty picture. Step off a steamer in 1896 and gold just waiting to be scooped up. Make you rich. Over 100,000 would heed the call.
What they would find when they left the boat was quite different. Deep mud-filled streets.
Harsh conditions. Little food. Unbelievable cold. Permafrost to be dug through. Boom towns like Dawson seem to spring up overnight. Of the 100,000 that would stampede the Klondike for GOLD, only about 4,000 struck gold in any appreciable amount. Of those 4,000 only a few hundred actually found enough to become rich. Most found nuggets or flakes which are richly scattered though-out the soil.
The real winners, of course, were the Steamers and Outfitters.
In the early 2000's, my youngest son and I tried our hand at panning Sugar Creek (in Indiana) and also at a small creek in Brown County. We never found much of anything. Flakes and a very small nugget...but it was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon together!
So, about a week ago I ordered (directly from an Alaska mining area) 2 pounds of unsorted paydirt (yes...I bought dirt) and since my metal pan probably went by the way of my blue van...I ordered a black plastic one which had the advantage of built in "Chinese Ridges" Chinese Ridges were invented by...you guessed it...Chinese Miners during The Rush who pounded ridges into the edges of their mining pans to help catch the heavier gold so it wasn't washed out during the panning. Since gold is heavier than rock or sand it is caught in these ridges and you can still wash out the accumulated minerals.
I found the addition of the ridges a huge help.
Instructions for Panning
and at Home
Finally, both my paydirt and the pan arrived.
When I had panned about 1/4 cup of the rocky soil down to its sandy bottom I started to see the flakes and very small nuggets shining. The entire process is wet, muddy and time consuming but at that first glint of a nugget as opposed to a flake...you know immediately why these guys stood in freezing cold water and panned (and still do).
The larger minerals and debris is sluiced off fairly quickly and the gold accumulate with fine sand at the very bottom of your pan.
From 1/4 cup paydirt in around a half hour.
And plenty left for a few more days panning!
If I don't find another thing I've already found a few small placer nuggets and some flakes...I'm thrilled.
This will be my "Alaskan Rock"
Even though it is actually metal.
Panned gold usually falls somewhere in between 18K and 24K. If I find enough I may have it made into a nugget pendant to wear. I had one years ago.
Also reproduced another meal from the Silver Shadow Cruiseline Menu.
Planning to try Grilled Sockeye Salmon soon!