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Nobody seems to care about the white quartz they find in rivers UNTIL they find thin veins of gold in them and then the questions start.

Quartz in our waterways has misled and wasted more of the miner’s time than almost any other distraction. Usually someone will find quartz with gold in it and then the search for more begins.


1) How sharp are the corners of the broken piece you are now holding?

2) Is this piece worn round as is river run gravel?

3) Is the vein of gold absolutely clean or is it slightly oxidized?

4) How far back is the gold in the quartz?

5) Are there more pieces of similar colored quartz nearby?

6) Is one side of the quartz somewhat smooth while the other side is sharp? Quartz can travel for miles down a river and I am talking about quartz that contains gold and it sure is exciting to find these rocks. I like to admire Mother Nature’s work and see how she injected the thin gold vein into your sample. I think it looks cool but the trick is to find the source of this gold and that is not an easy task. The quartz gold combo in streams gets me a little more excited than in rivers but the method of back tracking doesn’t change. I will just come out and say it; “you need to go up river and find the outcropping of quartz where the gold vein comes from”. However, if this quartz is in the rivers bedrock you will probably never find it. If your quartz sample is rounded, even a little bit, don’t bother trying to find the source. It has travelled too far! I show a lot more interest when you find an accumulation of sharp, broken, white pieces strewn in the river’s bottom as there is obviously a source nearby. It is ironic that most of the gold we pan and sluice from in or rivers came from quartz deposits and yet locating the origin of the quartz / gold combination is quite hard to find.

As with all things there are exceptions. When you start to find consistent gold laced quartz in a given area, the odds of finding the original deposit is much higher. One experience I had was finding a jumble of green moss covered quartz coming out of a small side stream into the river. 

Mining River Gold Moss Rock

These rocks looked like they had been there for quite a while. I started filtering through them looking for a sign of gold. The front of the run was just off white quartz – no gold, but, as I worked my way further up the almost dry streambed I found a hair thickness trace of gold in one of the pieces. Interesting, but I didn’t start to make retirement plans just yet. I worked my way further upstream about half a mile finding off white quartz and the odd piece that had a trace line of gold running through it. It must have been a long process for the quartz to work its way down to the river because some of the rock piles had a lot of moss on them. I finally came up to a stark-white quartz outcropping about five feet by 3 feet wide and… a big sign reading “No Trespassing”. At the base of the quartz face there was a lot of recently chipped quartz lying around. I was about 28 feet from this recent activity standing in the small creek’s bottom staring in disbelief at how close I had come to making a potential gold discovery. I estimate I had missed being the first to discover this find by about a year. I could have traced the claim date but I had found this one too late.

There is definitely a point I want to make here. “Discoveries happen when you least expect it” and when you make a find it will seem almost random. Maybe you are going fishing with some friends and you stop along the road to gather some firewood when you notice a dead tree up on s slight rise. This tree has some good dry branches that would work well for starting your campfire. Maybe you break off one of the lower branches and end up slipping on the rock you were standing on. Then you notice it was a quartz rock that had crumbled free from the rise that the tree was on. This is how gold finds happen, except most people don’t know what to look for.

Knowledge and awareness make a big difference in discovering / finding gold deposits in rivers, up on banks or pretty much anywhere. So keep your eyes open and bring a small knife with you to test samples you find. With this knowledge you are already ahead of 98% of other people who are exploring the outdoors.


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