As featured in the August/September issue of the Pick & Shovel Gazette
7 Questions with Ohio State Director Randy Goudy
1) Where can GPAA Members prospect in your state? (GPAA Claims)
There are 3 claims in Ohio, the Spriggs Claim in Lucasville, the Frazee claim near Howard, and the Swank Claim near Butler, OH. All three claims have well maintained camping areas and portapots. Two have pavilions with electric. No potable water on claims however.
2) Are there any public places prospect and treasure hunt?
Fossil Park in Sylvania, Trammel Fossil Park in Sharonsville, and Oakes Quarry in Fairborn. Ohio Caverns in West Liberty, Hocking Hills in Logan, and Seneca Caverns in Bellevue all have Gem and Fossils. For fine Ohio flint (which is the state mineral) head to Flint Ridge in Glenford.
3) Any relevant places of interest?
There are many places near the Swank claim in Richland County - Pleasant Hill lake and Charles Mill Lake which is one of the largest canoeing options in the state. Wade and Gatton Nurseries - home of one of the largest hosta collections in the state and the site of the historic Gatton Rock. The Richland County astronomical club has one of the largest reflector telescopes in the country that is privately owned. A paved bike trail is close by, and two ski resorts if you're a winter camper.
4) Recommended tools and techniques?
With glacial drift gold panning, sluicing, highbanking, dredging all will work. Most areas the gold is not real deep, work down to the first clay layer or hard material and clean on top of it. Many of the creeks have been course changed for flood control, or farming convenience over the years so "flood gold" is the easiest to get.
5) Any rules & regulations prospectors should be aware of?
4" dredge max in Ohio, DO NOT DIG in the banks, safest bet is to stay in the flowing channels. Ohio is considered a hobby prospecting state as declared by the state division of wildlife, so no mechanized digging (dredge is not considered mechanized).
6) What else should prospectors know before prospecting in your state?
There is a dog leash law in Ohio, along with shot records required in many places and campgrounds. Permits are necessary if prospecting or detecting. Both may be allowed on State property and many of the foundation owned land such as the Muskingham Watershed Conservancy District. Written permission needed when prospecting private land.
7) Must see places for anybody visiting your state?
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Air Force Museum in Dayton , Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Serpent Mound in Peebles, Mid-Ohio Race Course in Lexington, the Cleveland and Columbus Zoos, Mohican Forest, Malabar Farm and the Mansfield Reformatory (from the movie Shawshank Redemption which has regular and paranormal tours).
The list could go on and on!
The Gold & Treasure Shows visit Ohio this October 27-28, 2018
Prospecting the Buckeye State
by Amanda Havener
The words “gold mining” tend to bring up black-and-white images of prospectors in the 1800s flocking to large claims in the Western part of the United States. Although commercial gold panning is still practiced, there are quite a few people who participate in it as a hobby — and there are more potential places to do this than out west. Ohio, a quiet Midwestern state known for its professional sports, friendly demeanor (oHIo), and plenty of waterways, is one such place.
The state of Ohio started out as the Northwest Territory. The first settlers arrived in 1788, although the French explored the terrain even earlier than that. What’s important to note here is the wide array of geographic features in the state. There are literally dozens of rivers and streams, as well as natural freshwater lakes and ponds. Parts of the state (notably in the northeast) were covered by glaciers during the last Ice Age, leaving behind a series of hills and valleys, as well as sediment. All of this adds up to ideal gold panning conditions. Most of the gold found in Ohio is very small in size and is commonly referred to as “flour gold” because it consists of tiny pieces no bigger than a speck of salt. Today, this practice is regulated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
What the ODNR Has To Say
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is fairly lenient when it comes to hobby panning. As long as the people panning for gold are doing it for recreational (non-commercial) purposes and keep their environmental impacts to a minimum, no permit is required. Any hobby prospectors need to get permission from the landowner. Panning for gold on Ohio State Forest land is not permitted. With that said, there are plenty of local and county-owned parks that may allow for gold mining. There are also three important private leases open to these hobbyists — the Spriggs, Frazee, and Swank claims.
The Spriggs Claim in Scioto County
Scioto County is in the south-central section of the state, right on the Ohio River. It’s a rural county with a population of around 80,000 residents, making it the perfect place to pan for gold.
The Spriggs Claim is technically in the town of Lucasville and is near a well-maintained campground. Dredging is allowed here, up to a depth of four inches. If the water levels are low in the river, then panning works out well. The Spriggs Claim is on private land, owned by the Spriggs family, hence the name. It consists of 62 acres of land with a river running through it. The claim contains gold, artifacts, and even semiprecious gemstones. One of the largest finds was a 4-pound chunk of amethyst.
Although most of the gold is small in size, be prepared to find some bigger flakes and other interesting things.
The Frazee Claim in Knox County
The Frazee Claim in Knox, Ohio, sits on 21 acres of land. Panners have found flakes and fine gold on this claim, as well as pickers. Most of the finds here have been flour gold. As with the Spriggs Claim, dredging and panning are allowed in the river, although digging into the banks is forbidden. There aren’t a lot of large camping spaces here. It’s mostly limited to fairly primitive tent camping, with the addition of a Port-A-Potty. Campers can only stay for a maximum of 14 days at a time.
For those who aren’t familiar with the area, Knox County is in the central part of the state, directly above Columbus. Although it’s considered part of the Columbus Metropolitan area and the Mount Vernon micropolitan area, it has only 60,000 residents. The Frazee Claim is right on the north bank of the Kokosing River, a tributary of the Walhonding River, and is a part of the Mississippi River watershed.
The Swank Claim in Richland County
The Swank Claim is known for two great finds — both chunks of quartz with gold nuggets embedded in them. One of these nuggets was worth $50,000. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, these monumental (for the state, anyway) finds both took place over the last 20 years, making it entirely possible that another great one is just around the corner. Miners have also found garnets on the property.
This claim is located on the Clear Fork River near the village of Bellville in Richland County, not far from Mansfield. Like the Frazee Claim, it’s in the central part of the state, only closer to the heavily populated Northeastern region. There are two halves to this claim — Swank East, which sits on almost 30 acres, and Swank West, which is 74 acres. Swank West seems to be the best place to pan, although miners have described finding clean campgrounds and plenty of tiny grains of gold in both sections.
Public Prospecting Locations
The main claims in Ohio aren’t the only places to prospect for gold. There are some public locations that allow for the practice as well. These include Caesar Creek Lake Spillway in Warren, Ohio. You do need to get a permit from the visitors center before proceeding.
Fossils are the main thing that people have found here, although some gold might be lurking in the area of the lake spillway, the only place where prospecting is allowed on the property.
There are several other areas to hunt for both fossils and gold as well. These include Fossil Park in Sylvania, which is a 5-acre site located on an old quarry. Another good place to go is Trammel Fossil Park in Sharonville, Ohio. This 10-acre spot is owned by the city. Visitors have reported finding brachiopods and gastropods here, which date back to 425 million years ago.
In addition, there are several caverns worth exploring. Ohio Caverns in West Liberty and Seneca Caverns in Bellevue are quite interesting. Even if you don’t find any gold or fossils, you can still take tours of the caves, which are filled with rock formations. Oakes Quarry Park in Fairborn and Flint Ridge in Glenford are good places to spend some time as well. Flint Ridge is known for its flint (its namesake) which early Native Americans turned into tools and arrowheads. Numerous gemstones have been found here, too. As for the other location, if you find anything in the designated area of Oakes Quarry Park, you get to keep it.
Gold Rush Days
The Ohio Chapter of the GPAA holds its Gold Rush Days festival every year over the course of Labor Day weekend. The Swank Claim in Richland County plays host to this festival, which offers free parking, admission, and camping for members.
Some of this year’s free activities include games and events for kids, as well as panning lessons and equipment demonstrations. Adults can partake in some of the paid activities, such as common digs, a raffle, and a Gold Rush Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament. If you want to spend the weekend learning more about gold mining or just want to enjoy the company of your fellow gold prospectors, make sure to place this event on your calendar.
The state of Ohio is filled with interesting natural treasures. This shouldn’t be surprising, given the geological history of the area. With a little luck, you can find gold and gemstones in one of the three private claims, or fossils in the designated parks. No matter what, you’re guaranteed to have good time prospecting.
Look for an in depth review of Ohio and it's gold and treasure history in the 2018 September/October issue of the Gold Prospectors Magazine. Catch the GPAA and the Gold & Treasure Shows in Ohio this October 27-28, 2018!
Amanda Hevener is a freelance writer with a master’s degree in history based in Ohio