As you may have found yourself, prospectors often ask each other when they got ‘the fever’. For me it came when I was a kid reading National Geographic magazine stories about gold prospecting in Australia, Africa, etc. I was fascinated and used to dig pretend mines in my front yard (before my parents planted grass of course!).
Things got a little more serious when I moved to Colorado in May of 1989 and went to “Digger’s Old-Timer” run by Digger and Diana Cummings. This, now long gone, place in North Clear Creek Canyon just west of Denver welcomed about 5,000 tourists and locals each summer who wanted to learn to pan. You could also buy a bucket of paydirt dug out of a hillside gravel deposit to pan out. By the time my (very) patient wife and I left that day, I had a few flakes of wild gold caught in my vial and a couple gold pans of my own. Of course back then it was pretty tough to find information on where you could dig. As you’ll learn here in future posts, it’s much easier now!
Six or seven years ago my wife said something like “with the kids out of the house, you need to find some hobbies!”. My response was that I already had hobbies, I just wasn’t doing them. And so, I ramped back up on gold prospecting and home brewing beer. Since Father’s Day 2011, I’ve been out prospecting multiple times every month around the calendar. Matching that with a desire to see the whole state of Colorado, I got sucked into doing extensive research on places to dig and gold tourism sites around the state. All of that led to this site and my plans to write a book.
By the way, today if you drive up Clear Creek Canyon toward Central City & Blackhawk, you’ll drive past the waste water treatment plant for those towns. Sadly that’s what sits where The Oldtimer’s was back in the day. However, there’s good news: a bit further along you’ll come to a similar place where you can learn to pan and even dig in the creek yourself. If you stop at Vic’s Gold Panning, be sure to say hi from me! Give Jesse a ring at 303-582-0710 to make plans to stop by 🙂
On the way up the canyon, as you enjoy the amazing scenery and cool little tunnels, you are also driving right past some good spots to dig! I’ll talk more about that another time…
Meanwhile, how did you catch the fever?
Photo note: My gold production from an hour or so in a honey hole in metro Denver. Follow this blog to learn (almost) all my secrets 😉
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