Wonderful day metal detecting — Atlanta park, Smyrna park and 1820s grist mill

My dad, my brother, my daughter and I spent the day metal detecting and we had a great time! We spent time metal detecting about four locations; an old park in Atlanta, a abandoned lot next the Smyrna police department, a very small park neighborhood park in Smyrna and ended the day at the 1820s grist mill park near my home. The park in Atlanta was built in the 1940s. We only hunted there for about an hour. No silver but some cool relics. My brother found an old copper buckle, maybe equestrian, and a very rustic pocket knife with his Equinox 800. I found what appears to be the wick holder for a oil burning lamp and my dad picked up a wheatie in Smyrna. Here’s a picture of the days finds:

The finds left of the buckle and chuck-e-cheese token were found using a White’s Eagle II SL and the rest were found using a Minelab Equinox 800. The rock my daughter found and just liked it and decided to keep it!

It goes to show you, you don’t need to find colonial treasures or rare silver coins to enjoy the day and spend it with family. We didn’t find anything special, but we created memories that are priceless. Whatever is your passion, gold mining, metal detecting, rock hounding, whatever, get off the couch and get out there and enjoy the day! You won’t regret it.

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Metal detecting historic 1820’s grist mill part 1

Yesterday my brother and I went metal detecting around a 1820’s grist mill! The grist mill is now a public park and has a wonderful covered bridge from 1902 onsite. We didn’t find much, but we had a great time exploring the outdoors.

Metal detecting finds from 1820’s grist mill.

As you can see from the above finds, we didn’t find anything from the original mill. However, the slag was found on a modern park pathway and I believe probably predates the park and is from prior activity on the site (the current park is relatively new, built within the last 18 years).

We just barely touched the parks grounds, we never even made it past the covered bridge to the back half of the park. I’ll keep you updated on our progress and I hope to make it back to the park again soon.

Mike metal detecting near where the cross and slag were found. You can see the 1902 covered bridge in the background.

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Metal detecting around historic rock mounds of North Georgia Part I

The original Cherokee county of North Georgia occupied around 1/4 of the current state of Georgia. I spent a few hours tromping around in the woods of North Georgia in the region of the original Cherokee County looking for any relics from the 19th century or prior.

There are numerous small rock piles or rock mounds in Georgia. The area where I was metal detecting have these rock mounds scattered through out them. Here’s a photo I took during my metal detecting hunt showing three mounds stacked neatly in a row:

Mysterious rock mounds of North Georgia

The origin of these mounds are unknown. I think the theory relating to farmers stacking stones as they cleared a field seems the most likely. However, these particular rock mounds are on the side a of hill overlooking hurricane creek, which is not a great or easy place for farming! Another theory is the rocks mounds pre-date early Georgia farmers and were made long ago by Indians, perhaps during the Middle Woodland Period ( 300 B.C.–A.D. 600).

In addition, to these rock mounds, the area I was metal detecting is very close to the temporary trail of tears indian containment sites of North Georgia. Over 20,000 Cherokee indians from the surrounding area were marched to Oklahoma by gun point. Only 75% survived the trip, the remaining died along the way. This is a sad fact from U.S. history and something no American should have condoned.

I don’t know if early Georgia farmers, Cherokee indians or indians that pre-date the Cherokee created this wonderful mounds on the hills surrounding hurricane creek, but with metal detector in hand I was determined to find something that pre-dated the 20th century.

I was using a White’s Eagle II SL for this metal detecting excursion. I had previously hunted the area in question using the same detector, but this time I turned off discrimination. I wanted to find absolutely anything that might be from antiquity and the most likely would be ferrous relics such as an axe head or early tool.

Wow, what a great time I had, tromping thru the woods looking for relics of the past. Every target got my heart pumping. I don’t think I found anything that pre-dates the 20th century. Here are my finds:

Metal detecting finds hunting North Georgia woods with indian rock mounds

I only found two targets the really got me excited, the T-shaped metal fragment and the pocket knife. Curiously, I found them within 5ft of each other on the side of a hill. Here’s the area where they were found:

Metal detecting is fun and I enjoyed every moment this afternoon. Did I found treasure, no, but the real treasure is in the hunt. Get out there and enjoy life to the fullest!

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Mohave Desert placers

I’ve been promising some resources for gold prospecting outside of Georgia and here is a great map of the Mohave desert placers just north of Dolan Springs. Just take Pearce Ferry Road from Dolan Springs to drive up there. There are GPAA claims in the area and other gold club claims or you can file your own claim too!

Here’s a photo of the placers just south of Golden Rule Peak. The diamonds show the location of known gold placers

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Dahlonega GA gold placers map

No discussion about gold mining in Dahlonega would be complete without the following 1849 map from William P. Blake (the state geologist in that year).

I love google maps and this map really help show where the gold placers around Dahlonega are located. Here’s the map imported in Google Earth, if you missed the post about how to do that, you can visit it here:

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Original Cherokee nation map and 1849 Georgia map with geological features

This map of the Cherokee nation from 1830 is pretty cool:

and here’s a another map from 1831 showing the Cherokee nation:

I love on this map the area around Etowah River is called Gold Region and Pigeon mine, Underwoods mine and “rich gold mine” are clearly marked on the map!

and finally, here’s a later map from 1849 showing the principal gold region in Georgia:

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How to choose between a gold pan, gold dredge or high banker

If you’re a amateur gold miner like me, you only gold mine on weekends.  On top of that, sometimes the good mining locations are pretty far away and by the time you get to the property you might only have a couple of hours to gold mine!  I would say it’s pretty common to hear this statement:

“The more material you move, the more gold you find!”

From this statement, it would seem pretty obvious that you should always use the gold mining equipment that moves the most material, right?  Well, before we examine this statement, let’s take a look at the different mining equipment:

I actually have all the above mining equipment available to me to use when I go gold mining.   Let’s examine the advantages and disadvantages of each piece of equipment of mining equipment :

Gold Pans and classifier screens 

Advantages:  Light, cheap and very easy to take into the field.  If you have a very limited time or budget, this is your best bet.  Since it’s a great tool for cleanup or to prospect for gold, pretty much ever gold miner owns one.

Disadvantages:  A gold pan is the slowest method of gold mining and used together with picks and shovels can be back-breaking work.  On top of that, a gold miner using only a gold pan will only move a limited amount of gold bearing material.  There are approximately 400 standard gold pans to the yard, so I would say working a 1/4 yard of material a day with a gold pan would be working pretty hard!

Mini sluice box 

Advantages:  Light, cheap and very easy to take into the field (same benefits as a gold pan and classifier screens).  However, a sluice box does the work of washing the material for you.  Instead of constantly bending over in the river and swishing and swirling the pan, you let the river do the washing for you!  A sluice box works in conjunction with a creek or river and doesn’t work without a moving water source.

Disadvantages:  Since you need a pretty good stream of water to operate a sluice box, it limits you to working directly in a creek or stream.  You also still need to shovel the gold bearing material into the sluice box, so the amount of material moved per day is probably limited to about a 1/2 to 1 full yard a day.   Still back-breaking work, but a step up from only a gold pan!  If you have a very limited budget and want to move the most gold possible, a good sluice box will set you back about $100 dollars.

high banker or power sluice 

Advantages:  High bankers start around $400 dollars, so they’re not cheap.  However, gold mining equipment is notoriously expensive so high bankers are one of the lower cost options.  You still need a water source, like a sluice box, but since you pump the water a significant distance from the stream or river, a high banker would allow you to get closer to the gold gold or work material not directly in a creek.  The flexibility of directly working old timer tailings and low cost makes a high banker a great choice for beginner gold miners.

Disadvantages:  You still need to shovel the gold bearing material into the high banker hopper, so the amount of material moved per day is probably about the same as a regular sluice box or about 1/2 to 1 full yard a day.   On top of that, the hopper of the high banker is usually pretty high off the ground so the digging is more difficult than a sluice box sitting directly in the stream.

2″-3″ gold dredge 

Advantages:  You can’t beat a 2″ dredge for portability!   At a total weight of 65lbs, a 2″ back-pack dredge is one of the lightest pieces of mining equipment you can find!  They start at around $1500-1800 dollars, so I wouldn’t call a 2″ dredge inexpensive, but still within some budgets.  A 3″ dredge weighs around 85-177 lbs, so it adds significant weight and cost (a 3″ dredge costs between $2000-3000 dollars)

Disadvantages:  A 2″ dredge is rated at 2 yards per hour, but almost every rock is larger than 2″ so you have to manually throw a lot of rocks!!  I swear I’ve used a 2″ dredge and thought to myself, “man I could move more material panning”.  I think when you factor in manually throwing all the 2″+ rocks and nozzle clogs, clogged intake filter and other problems, processing a yard yer hour would be pretty good rate with a 2″ gold dredge.

4+” gold dredge 

Advantages:  Wow, a 4″ gold dredge moves a LOT of material!  I’ve never used a 5″ or 6″ dredge, but I can imagine they’re monster gold getting machines!   Anything over a 6″ and you’re talking a commercial gold mining operation.  As far as processing power, a 4″ gold dredge is rated at 5 yards per hour, but so many factors can effect that rate (loose or compact material, cobble size, operator, etc)  it’s probably closer to 2 or 3 yards per hour.

Disadvantages:  A 4″+ dredge is $3000+, so that’s a negative!  Another disadvantage is the weight.   The lowest weight 4″ dredge is probably around 160 lbs, so they’re not light.  I’ve gone 4″ gold dredging by myself, but I was a lot younger and wouldn’t attempt now at 45 years old.  If you afford the cost and handle the “beast”.  One final thought about a large gold dredge, it takes substantial time to transport and set-up a gold dredge.  After you drive to your site, unload your gold dredge, set it up in your chosen location, you can loose hours in a day!  So the final disadvantage to a large gold dredge is set-up time, you need at least an hour, maybe 2 hours to set it up at your location.

TRUE STORY

On the way to the gold mining fields of north GA, I was attempting to explain the benefits and disadvantages of the different types of mining equipment to my brother, Mike.  We only had a couple of hours to gold mine once we reached the property, so I thought we should just work old timer tailings with a gold pan and sample, sample sample.  The stream in this area has been well worked many, many times over the years and I never thought we found what we should be finding directly in the creek. Plus, Like I said above, with a 2″ dredge you have to throw a lot of cobble! In fact, this particular creek has very large rocks.  Well, Mike called me an “idiot” and said it would be stupid to think we’d find more gold with a gold pan and shovels versus a 2″ gold dredge (we had both pieces of mining equipment in the truck that day).  Well, I challenged Mike to prove it!   We both had 3 hours, Mike would use the 2″ gold dredge directly in the stream and I would only use gold pans, buckets and a shovel.  When the challenge was over, we’d both take our gold concentrates back to the clean-up shack and see who got more gold!  Here’s a video of our challenge, who do you think won the challenge?

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