Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hunting Gold in North Carolina at The Lucky Strike Gold Mine

Well my latest adventure took me to North Carolina. I was there for a soccer tournament, but had an extra day at the tail end of the trip to head to western North Carolina and look for some gold. We had a flight at 5pm and had a two hour drive to the site so it did not leave a huge window.

We were based in Greensboro. The plan was to jump up at 5am, pack up, check out of the hotel and head west. The Lucky Strike Gold Mine opened at 8:30 and we were going to be there then! I had planned for a two hour drive and it was spot on. It was very easy to find. We headed out I40 and at Marion we took US221 south for about 6 miles to the Lucky Strike.

It was a bit tricky upon arrival as we drove down to the river area. We found the main office/restaurant and parked ready for the fun! The Lucky Strike pretty much has anything you need for prospecting a little gold. We only had about 6 hours so I decided to rent a small sluice and a couple of gold pans and head down into the creek.

I tried to ask some questions of the woman in the office, but she truthfully was not overly helpful. I asked if she could point us to a decent area to set up or give us some pointers on where to sluice for a few hours. The short answer was just head to the creek. Basically we were on our own. Alright. No big deal. I was ready to dig in!

We headed over to the panning area and a man gave the boys about a 3 minute panning lesson. Again, not the best of help as he wasn’t too interested in doing much more than getting it over with and us out of there. It was time to gather up some gear and head to the creek. They had all the gear we could have needed. We grabbed a couple of five gallon buckets, two gold pans, a couple of screens, a shovel and some smaller digging devices to go along with the sluice.

Since we didn’t have any idea where to go we just winged it! The river was wonderful! Averaging about 1-2 feet in depth and a cooling temperature. It was the end of July and the outside temperature was in the 70s. We hopped right in.

The river is quite rocky with water smoothed rocks. Do not go without some sort of foot protection as it is quite painful. I lasted about 10 minutes barefooted and that was it. I put on my shoes and was good to go from there. I found a nice big rock and decided to focus my early attention there.

The plan was to collect material in a 5 gallon bucket. I had a screen so I screened the material into the bucket getting rid of the majority of the rocks. Once we had the screened dirt I ran it through the sluice that we set up in the river. After running through the sluice the final material was to be panned out. It was a long and tiring process for sure.

I was the only one in the river that morning which made me wonder. Everyone else was over by a small pond working loads of dirt that the Lucky Strike provided. After a few hours it was time to pan. We lugged a couple of buckets of material up to the panning area and set about it. If you have never panned for gold, it is quite fun. You just never know what you will find in the bottom of that pan! After an hour or so we were all done.

The final take:
One beautiful bright green emerald that practically glows
One small red ruby
One larger red ruby
One solid little picker of a gold nugget
I would guess about a .15 of a gram in weight
About 10 flakes of bright gold

Final thoughts on the Lucky Strike Gold Mine: Well you are pretty much on your own if you visit here. Not alot of help or advice was given or seemed to be offered. The river was wonderful and it is where the true adventure is. You can buy paydirt (which seemed to be what everyone else was doing), but I was up for the true prospecting!

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