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Categories: From the Gold Prospectors Magazine, Gold Trails, How-To's

 Thursday, August 29, 2019

Where's the Gold? (Alaska Edition)



Where's the Gold? (Alaska Edition)
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From the upcoming 2019 September/October issue of the Gold Prospectors Magazine





  • One of the most commonly worked areas on any creek anywhere. Inside bend of a sand and gravel bar. Water is slowing at this point and the creek is widening out.
  • Huge water erosion area that at one time was the active water channel as it curved around this area.
  • Seasonal high-water area. Looking closely at this spot you can see the fine deposited gravels and sand and the flow of the water making this area an inside bend during the seasonal high water from snow runoff and summer storms.
  • Hillside area eroding and sloughing off into the creek. These mounds are the old benches that areas that are beginning to slough and feed into the creek. They are still higher than the normal water level and the trees act as a nature trap.


Look at the image below closely, think about the information above and what you may have learned in the past about prospecting..

Scroll down once you think you have some answers - no cheating!






If there was ever a series of trick questions, this is it. This is where research and testing pay off.


Each location marked on the map has viable gold with the exception of D.


In studying the history of the working and production on Gold King Creek dating back to the very early 1900s you will find that just about every inch of the creek has been worked, turned over and processed. But it’s helpful learning about how they processed the material and the challenges they faced. In this case, a clay layer that stopped them dead in their tracks from the headwaters to the river convergence a mile downstream.



Let’s take a look at each spot.


  • [A] Would is a great answer on any normal water channel in a gold-bearing area. It meets all of the criteria and produced excellent results when test-panning a few spots.


  • [B] This area is where the early miners diverted the water course to work the main stream channel. With the diversion of the water channel they worked to the clays and quit, leaving the diversions open to the elements. Over the years the creek returned to its original course or created a new course. Nonetheless they could have come back to B years later and recovered some pretty good stream-deposited gold.


  • [C] It is exactly what it appears to be and there is gold exactly where you would expect it to be. Notice the dip in the water channel to the right of the line pointing down from the C? During high-water events this area is well under water. Hint: look at the debris to the bottom of the photo; this is material that traveled downstream during the flood stages and was stopped by the rocks.  Now look a little closer at the height of the debris field and the height of the C area. C is inches lower, meaning that C was an active water channel during the floods. In my best guess I would say that the high area acted as a gravel bar and C was an underwater flow around the bar. The area where the fine gravels give way to the larger cobbles showed the greatest promise.


  • [D] All written documentation on Gold King Creek talks about the lack of gold on the hillsides at the lower elevations, and that all of the gold was deposited through hydro events centuries ago, concentrated, then eroded out of the ground in the higher elevations. The protruding benches on Gold King Creek carry little value for mining but may offer a prospector a little gold. In this case, if I were working D, I would leave gold to find gold given the testing results in the overall area.  


Before heading to Alaska and Gold King Creek Alaska Adventures I spent a great deal of time researching the area and reading anything I could get my hands on. After arriving at the mine, I worked with Kib and was given a great deal of additional information and reading material. All of this helped me in understanding the gold, its origins and how it deposited.


This is why researching an area is so important. Summer in Arizona is my time for research. When I am thinking about a new area, I will pull online maps, old claims and active claims information in the area. I especially spend a great deal of time finding and researching old claims information. If the area that I am looking to prospect has had any production, chances are that you will be able to find some information on the who, what, when, where and how. This info is sometimes the greatest tool for making decisions on where and how to work the area. Even though once I am on the site my plan may change some, I at least had enough information to come in with a plan. Even if I have to alter it a bit, it is a plan and I am well ahead in recovering gold.


Kevin Hoagland is the GPAA Executive Director of Development and can be reached at

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