Drought Fuels Mini California Gold Rush
Low water levels open up new areas for panning
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 27, 2014 12:00 PM CDT
Updated Mar 30, 2014 6:28 AM CDT
In this photo taken Tuesday, March 4, 2014, Heather Willis, manager of the Pioneer Mining Supply Co., goes over a map of areas open to gold panning with a prospective gold prospector.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(Newser) – California is facing what some have called its worst drought in a century, but there could be a silver lining—or, should we say, gold. Thanks to low water levels, a mini gold rush has sprung up around the Sierra Nevada foothills—the same spot flooded by '49ers in the mid-1800s. "With the drought going on, we're able to dig in more locations that wouldn't be accessible," one man said as he panned for gold—currently selling for more than $1,300 an ounce—in Bear River near Colfax, Calif. "If you see a good-sized flake, that's when you get excited."

The drought doesn't appear to be improving. "I do understand that it's a dramatic impact on everybody during a drought that's this severe, but at the same token I'm taking advantage of it," said another amateur prospector. He's not the only one. At Pioneer Mining Supplies in the town of Auburn, business has shot up 20% to 25% since the drought began. "It's great for business," the store's owner said, "but I'd rather see no drought and a lot of rain." As for one of his customers, "It's more of a hobby ... but obviously if we hit a nice pocket, then yeah, I would love to make some money."

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Ezekiel 25:17
Mar 30, 2014 11:22 AM CDT
I went to California in 2000 for a month long seminar at a studio. I was free on weekends and I either visited Las Vegas or went into the mountains. I wanted to go into an operating gold mine and they had stopped giving the tours. It didn't look busy so I pulled up my map on Delorme Trip Maker and saw where the streams went out of the mountains around the mine. I then parked off the road and walked upstream as far as I felt comfortable. The streams were all dried up and I started seeing gold dust in the soil. I made several trips and gathered up all the dust I could find and took it back home after the seminar was over. I worked on separating the dust out of the soil and finally got about 10 ounces to take to a gold dealer. He gave me 80 cents on the dollar for it and that helped pay for the trip costs. He then told me to be careful about going back because technically I was trespassing. But I'm not sure I would even find the place. I have since tried to find it on Google maps and I have yet to even locate the area I was in.
orlandojon
Mar 30, 2014 7:19 AM CDT
This is what happens when you leave the door wide open on the border, encourage maternity tourism, then become overcrowded, pass stupid water restricting laws to save a minnow even though it puts farmers out of business. The list is endless...this is California the grand experiment in liberalism.
OrneryPup
Mar 28, 2014 2:02 AM CDT
I find gold regularly in KC. Silver too. Perfectly legal, there for the finding. Made quite a bit of cash from it over 15 years.