Finding the Mother Lode
With gold selling at around $1900.00 an ounce, can a person earn an income prospecting for gold? This is an age-old question and one I find difficult to answer. The answer is of course, "yes," however, there is one important question you must first ask yourself.
"What standard of living are you trying to achieve?" If you enjoy living in a tent and hunting for your food, then it becomes much easier for you to sustain your lifestyle with the money you could earn by prospecting for gold. If you want to own a nice home, drive a new car and have some of the finer things in life, than making a living gold prospecting becomes more difficult. It is for these and other reasons that I advise most people to choose recreational prospecting and to keep their day job.
I really enjoy gold prospecting as a hobby and, like many others, often wonder if I will ever find the mother lode. I do know one thing for sure -- I will not find it watching TV or sitting around the house. Gold prospecting is not easy and requires research, time, and quite a bit of effort. You will either love it or hate it, but you will never know until you try.
Let me tell you about a man I met about 15 years ago, who came to San Diego to get a grub stake so he could go back and work his mine in the Western part of the United States. His name, for the lack of a better one, shall be Mr. Smith -- you will understand why as the story proceeds.
Mr. Smith got his first real taste of life in Vietnam. When he returned home, he held several jobs but none really kept his interest. Somehow, he got into gold prospecting; he liked it because it gave him time to think and to be alone in the mountains.
Mr. Smith started his prospecting career by researching information about the old mining district in his area. The one location that interested him most was one in a very remote region. There were no roads left, as civilization had passed that part of the world by.
It took Mr. Smith some time to locate this desolate mining area. After extensive exploring he finally found the old mining claim. He did find traces of gold, but it looked like the area had been closed for good reason. After a few days of sampling he came upon a small stream with a waterfall. Like any good prospector, he took his shovel and dug deep then placed the dirt in his pan. The result was over an ounce of gold.
Most prospectors would have cleaned out that stream and been very happy. What happened next is what makes Mr. Smith different from most of us. Like the wise old prospectors, he wanted to know where that gold came from. About a half mile up the stream he located what he felt was the source of the gold -- a large quartz outcropping.
Mr. Smith knew that the only way to know for sure if the outcropping was the source of the gold was to blast it. He had to go back to town in order to get the necessary equipment, a good three-day trip with mules. I wonder how many of us would have bothered to extend that much effort. Mr. Smith returned several weeks later and carefully drilled several holes into the outcropping. He dropped dynamite into the holes and then blew the large quartz outcropping open. One of the large rocks was cracked in half, revealing a high gloss material like mica often seen mixed with quartz.
Let's go back in time to understand what Mr. Smith was looking at. Some 4 million years ago, gold was pushed up through the earth's crust to this and many other locations. However, at this particular spot, thermo steam at over 4000 degrees F. also came up, forcing crystallized gold into the quartz rock. When Mr. Smith blew the quartz apart, he came upon one of nature's rarest forms of gold -- crystalline gold. To a collector, it's worth $2000 dollars or more an ounce.
This takes us back to the day I met Mr. Smith. He was in San Diego to sell some of the gold he discovered to obtain enough money to buy a helicopter in order to bring in the proper equipment and extract the balance of the gold. So far he had only removed 4 to 5 pounds. Mr. Smith would only allow us to tell this story if he remained unidentified.
Below are some photos of Mr. Smith's gold. These are now the property of a local collector. We never heard back from Mr. Smith, so we don't know the final outcome of his good fortune. We don't even know if the story is true. All we have is a photo of Mr. Smith's gold samples and new hope that we too will find our mother lode.
By Jim Bremner
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