Gold panning is fast-becoming one of the most popular activities today. In fact, more and more travel groups are offering vacation packages that center around the activity. So if you’re bored of the usual vacations and you want to do something new with your family, or if you’re in it for the money, I suggest that you continue reading.
Gold panning in California
Of course, we can’t talk about gold panning without talking about California. After all, there’s a reason why the state is called “The Golden State”. It’s safe to say that it’s because of the contribution of gold to the development of the state. Most historians would tell you that the discovery of gold in the state led to its modern development.
History of gold panning in California
In order to know the full history, we have to go back to almost two centuries ago. It’s an established fact that it was James W. Marshall, with the help of Samuel Rogers, who first discovered gold on January 24, 1848. Both were working on a project for John Sutter. It was Mr. Rogers who first saw the precious metal that he immediately brought to Mr. Marshall. He immediately had his suspicions that it was gold so he brought it to Mr. Sutter. The two tested the metal themselves and they confirmed that it was indeed gold.
However, there were no shouts of joy after the discovery. The duo actually became concerned that the discovery would start a gold rush and that their project will be affected. Mr. Sutter wanted to set up his own agricultural kingdom and he feared that if word got out, people would flock to his area looking for gold.
His fears proved to be prophetic as people started flocking to his land after a San Francisco publication released news confirming that there is indeed gold in California. This led to locals trooping to the river, ready to look for gold. News then spread all over the world and people from all over started settling in, completely modernizing the state.
Since most people who came didn’t have any tools or know-how to extract gold, they used a very simple but effective system – gold panning. Actually, that wasn’t the first time that the strategy was used to extract gold. In ancient Rome, they used the strategy as well. It’s simple, low-cost and effective.
Gold panning in California gained popularity in 1849 when the “Forty-niners”, or those looking for gold, started extracting gold using the simplest strategy that they know of. Armed with gold pans, they competed with the bigger groups that have more technologically-advanced strategies.
Interesting facts about gold panning in California:
- 125 million troy ounces of gold were extracted during the Gold Rush of 1848–1855.
- Converted to today’s money, that’s over $50 billion worth of gold.
- A 195 pound gold nugget was discovered in 1854. Back then, it was valued at $43,534.
- Due to the Gold Rush, California’s population exploded to 223,000 from 14,000 in four years from 1848 to 1852.
Counties where they found gold in California
This is a list of the top 12 California counties when it comes to extracted gold. These counties were able to produce over $100,000,000 worth of gold since the start of the Gold Rush until 1965.
- El Dorado
NOTE: El Dorado, Tuolumne, Mariposa, Amador and Calaveras were the original “Mother Lode” counties.
Where can you pan for gold in California today?
It’s been estimated that only 20% of the total gold in the Mother Lode were extracted. This means that there are still 80% of them still available for extraction. Aside from the original five counties, it now covers northeastern and central California so those are great places to start with.
Hopefully, this information will help you explore gold panning in California. Take advantage of these resources and have fun with your success!
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