As featured in the November/December 2019 Gold Prospectors Magazine
By Kevin Hoagland
I have dropped in a couple of “Where’s the Gold” desert editions in the past, but this one is much different.
This edition takes in a great deal of area in the desert where you can see for miles and it is pretty much flat. It is a great challenge to prospect these areas for the simple fact that every level of prospector asks themselves, “Where do I start?”
But is that always the best question?
When I first prospected this area, that was my question. Of course, I wandered around for some time trying to answer that in my head as I kicked rocks and looked at everything I could see. The real challenge here is to not look at a huge picture because you will almost always just give up. So where is the gold?
I had no idea — HAD — and I could spend months looking for it if we were in the 1990s or even the early 2000s, but we have tools available to us these days that were not available then.
The question we all ask ourselves is “Where to start?” And the oldest answer to that is and will always be, “Where gold has been found.”
But instead of wandering around the desert looking for old workings, let’s go tech and head to the computer.
If you know basic mapping and you can use a topo or GIS map to identify Meridian – Township – Range (written as MTR), you can use this information on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) site at BLM.gov and go to the LR2000 under the Land & Minerals System tab.
The LR2000 is a tool that I use daily in my research. I can find what is current and, more importantly, what is not. By typing the MTR into the “Pub MC Geo Index Report” page, you can look at current and closed claims in an area.
But a township (T) is a really big chunk of dirt, 36 square miles. Not really helping, here am I? If you have a better idea as to where you want to look, add the Section (S; there are 36 of these in a T) into your search, now the MTRS. Now we are down to 1 square mile and the “Where to start” question just got a whole lot smaller. You can close the world up even further if you know the Subdivision of the section. In fact, you can get it to 20 acres with just a few keystrokes.
Take a look at the photo of the “Pub MC Geo Index Report.” You have to do a small amount of conversion and the instructions on the site are very concise to help you get a handle on pulling reports with not much of a learning curve. I’m not going to kid you, the learning curve is not bad but there is an adjustment in getting used to the LR2000. There are some quirks, like everything having to be entered in ALL CAPS. Lowercase will lead you to frustration.
Using the LR2000 you can find where the gold has been found by seeing where mining areas used to be and a pretty clear view of how long they were worked. For me, this is always the first stop.
This just scratches the surface and is a good tool to get started with. To learn more about narrowing this down even further by using the LR2000 and more tools available today, I invite you to listen to my “On the Gold” podcast. I break this down much further and with a lot more detail, including other programs that can be used in conjunction with the LR2000 and Google Earth to help get you on the gold even faster.
When you tune in to the podcast, make sure to have pencil and paper ready. I’m going to ask you to use your imagination and draw some squares upon squares and then a few more. Once we are done, you will be able to pull a lot of spots off of maps, turning “Where’s the Gold?” to “I’m on it!”
Kevin Hoagland is the GPAA Executive Director of Development and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org