Gold panning western Washington State.
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Gold!
A FishTackler® Article
Copyright 2005 by Lynn Mills. All rights reserved.
             Panning the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas in Washington, State.
                


     I had always wanted to try  panning for gold. The stories I had read in books like, "shallow diggings," and stories about Montana's  famed Confederate gulch, prickly pear gulch, last chance gulch and dozens of other gulches in the Butte and Helena area were adventurous and romantic sounding. I wondered what it would be like to see  gold in the bottom of a pan for the first time.  When my wife and I and our children moved to Washington state I bought a gold pan in a local store. Wanting to try it out I walked over to a small stream close to our house and started panning. It took me awhile to learn how to pan down to just the heavy stuff but after that it was not long before I had panned my first piece or rather particle of gold. There it was. It shined like a beacon against the green background of my Garret gold pan. Even though it was just a tiny spec it was very apparent that it was gold. There was no mistaking that bright gold shine. It was very exciting and I soon learned first hand about gold fever. Since then my son Dale and I have panned many places throughout Kitsap and Jefferson counties here in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. Here is what we have found. Lots of small garnets. A fossil of a small jaw bone with one tooth in still place. Pennies, 22 and pistol slugs, nails and other assorted odds and ends. Almost without exception here in Kitsap county in every stream, large or small, we found small gold flakes or colors, colours if you prefer. It seems to be evenly distribute through out Jefferson, Mason and Kitsap Counties. Big streams, small streams it doesn't seem to matter. There seems to be small quantities of flour gold everywhere but no nuggets. Even in ditches and gravel pits. The areas in Jefferson county are pretty much the same except as you approach the Olympic Mountains the gold becomes less and less and virtually disappears in the Olympics on the East and South faces. We have not tried the West or North faces yet. I have panned the lower elevations north of the Olympic Mt. near Joyce and found flake gold evenly distributed. It seems the closer to sea level we got the more gold we found. In fact one of the best places we found was an area in Fort Warden State Park on the beach by the salt water below the bluffs. (Editors note; My apologies for mixing up Fort Warden with Fort Flaggler.  I reported that Fort Flaggler "was one of the best places we found" I should have said Fort Warden. I have corrected the error.) We were getting up to a hundred flakes per pan. On the other hand in the Olympics South and East faces we found no gold. Not only no gold but no black sand at all and no garnets. There was no heavy concentrates in the bottom of the pan. Just a very light, by weight, brown sand. This leads me to believe that the gold did not leach out in the Olympic Mountains and work down from there as many people and geologists claim. Rather it must have been precipitated from Smokers along the cascadian plate and then dredged up from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean by the scraping of the boundary plates as the Cascadian plate moved over the San Juan De Fuca plate at the subduction zone. Like a bulldozer the Cascadian plate scrapes up marine sediment and this sediment eventually becomes the land Seattle and all the communities around it are built on. It has been shown that the smokers on the ocean floor in this area precipitate gold and other minerals. Dale and I also tried panning in the area of Deception pass and found lots of gold flake there. In fact that is where I found one of my biggest flakes. I also tried panning a stream in Washington, near the Oregon Boarder close to the Ocean. Among the fresh Moose tracks I found flake gold. I also tried Ruby beach right on the ocean with good success. It seems that this whole area has a fairly even distribution of flour gold. I have yet to find a nugget nor has any one I asked found one in the area.

     An interesting side note. My brother Galen and I panned a stream near the Kennicot Copper mine west of Salt Lake City, and found black sand but no gold and yet just a short distance from there Kennicot is taking out high grade gold ore. Galen and I also tried a stream near Orem, Utah. We were literally drowning in black sand. We scooped out magnetic black sand by the bucket full. I have never seen so much black sand but nary a piece or particle of gold.

     If you have information relevant to this article or a comment I would love to hear from you. Also any stories, anectdotes, pictures or information about gold prospecting are most welcome in the Yahoo gold fever club posts http://groups.yahoo.com/group/goldfever/http://groups.yahoo.com/group/goldfever/

Update 31 March 2008
Because of the sky rocketing price of gold I fear people will think this article is a door to riches. Nothing could be further from the truth. The gold discused in the above column is flower gold. To get even 1 troy oz would take a full summer of daily panning. Lynn
Email me at wwindmills@comcast.net                                                                                                    

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