By Marc Rogers

Gold prospector makes the best of new-found opportunities

A gold pan for Christmas! That’s what Philip received from his brother-in-law about eighteen years ago, and it gave him a good excuse to try panning on the streams that ran through the family ranch in Colorado. He didn’t find any gold on the ranch, but that didn’t stop him. He just started ranging out into other nearby areas to do his panning, places where gold had been found in the past.

He soon found himself spending more and more of his free time panning for gold, looking to find more of the shiny flakes he panned from the crystal clear streams. It was exciting each time he found a new spot that turned up some “color”, and he liked it! He continued panning until about 1980. When the price of gold went up so high, he decided it was time to buy a dredge; and he started taking at least part of every summer off to look for gold. All of his dredging was in Colorado for awhile, then he started wandering farther afield.

He spent some time one summer in Alaska; another year he spent some time in Arizona; and one year he went to Nevada. He found some gold everywhere he went, but not as much as he wanted to find.

He was working at strip mines during the winter months, but he wanted to spend more time gold mining, and finding more gold! Finally, in December of last year, he quit his job and went back to Arizona to look for gold.

While in Arizona he came across a copy of Gold & Treasure Hunter magazine, and liked what he read about The New 49’ers Prospecting Organization. Soon after, he met some New 49’er members, and was able to get further information from them. From the things they told him, this group seemed to be just what he was looking for. There was gold to be found, and without the type of hassles and problems that he’d encountered in the past, whenever he attempted to find a good place to dredge. Shortly thereafter he joined the club, and made plans to head up to Happy Camp early in the spring, taking his four-inch dredge along with him.

He arrived in Happy Camp before Memorial Day, and spent a little time asking questions before deciding where to dredge. He attended a couple of the Saturday evening group potlucks, asking questions of the members and Dave McCracken, to get an idea where he wanted to try first.

He finally decided to start dredging on one of the creek claims that had been in the club several years, but from what everyone had been telling him, had not been worked much.

He went up to look the area over and picked his location, based on what he’d been told by Dave and other 49er members. He knew the creek claims tended to have gold in pockets, and he might not find anything for awhile. But he also knew that everyone said there was nice coarse gold here–and that was what he was after! He wanted some “nice-sized gold,” instead of the fine gold that he had commonly found in the past!

As he set up in the creek and began to dredge, he tried to prepare himself for the possibility of not doing very well for a time. And then, Wow! The first time he checked his box, he had gold showing already!

Even though the creek water was cold, he was down there bright and early the next day, and every day that week. When potluck time rolled around the following Saturday, he had a nice-sized bottle of beautiful gold nuggets to show off! He worked there almost a month, until time for Dave McCracken’s weeklong dredging workshop for members, which he wanted to take part in. During that month, he had found 3 3/4 ounces of jewelry gold in his little spot!

After the workshop he felt more confident about working other areas; and since the gold was tapering off where he was, he moved on to another spot. He worked some of the larger creeks, and then on to the Klamath River, spending the entire summer, and part of the fall, dredging—and loving it! “The beauty, and the peace, of working in the river is spectacular!”

Philip is a hard worker when he’s dredging, and a little bashful, but he couldn’t help but make friends with a lot of the members. “They were all so helpful and friendly that I soon felt like they were family.” He soon found himself taking some time off for outings, with some of his new-found friends.

He had found that if he needed advice on where to dredge or how to get better recovery in a certain area, if he was having problems in any way, these friends would be right there to help. They respected his privacy, however, and that was one of the things he really liked about this group.

Then, as the days grew cooler and shorter, he began making plans to go back to work for the winter. As he prepared to leave town, he was enquiring about five and six inch dredges–it was hard to make up his mind just how much larger he wanted to go, but he was definitely going to have a larger dredge next year–this was FUN! “And, with the results I was getting with my four inch–Boy, what I might do with a six!” As he pulled out of town, he had a big smile on his face. He was already thinking of next year, and of all the gold and new adventures that awaited him.