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NY gold


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In 2014, life had taken me to become the maintenance man of a small private campgrounds on a lake, which was one of the fingerlakes of NY. This campground consisted of a dozen or so cabins, each individually owned; and seven docks. One of the docks was the fishing dock. It met the lake at the mouth of a small creek. The campgrounds were owned by an 80 year old guy named Tom. His cabin was the first one behind the fishing dock with the creek running along side of it. We had the docks out of the water for the winter and were waiting for the lake ice to thaw enough to get the fishing dock in. That dock always went in a week or two before the boat docks did.

That winter ended with a large snowfall and spring broke right after with a two day heavy rain. The creek swelled past it's banks and continued to carry the flood waters for a couple more days. Both Tom and I were constantly checking to see if and when we could safely set that dock up and start back into open water fishing. The creek water finally receded and I was there talking to Tom about how I was going to start getting the dock in, when he said, "look, see all that black sand where the water had been? I bet there is gold in there." I laughed at that statement, as I had grown up in the fingerlakes with a creek running through my parents back yard and I had never seen or heard of anyone ever finding gold anywhere around. "There is no gold in NY", I told him. To be sure of the statement I spend what little freetime I had searching the internet for 'Gold in NY'. I found some references to the adirondack mountains and the catskill mts, but nothing from the fingerlakes or the whole of NY. I did however, find an article about a law in NY, stating that any and all gold found in the ground in NY was property of the state. This made me wonder; why the state would pass a law like this if there wasn't gold in NY?

I had the fishing dock in and was spending a lot of time with a pole in the water, while setting up the boat docks. The black sand had settled into the brown run-off dirt and I had put aside the notion of gold. Tom, on the other hand, became fixated on the possibility and one day came up to me with a present. It was a membership in the GPAA along with a gold pan, snuffer bottle and odds and ends. He had also bought a small riffle box and some classifier screeds. To appease him and to prove the absents of gold in the dirt of the creek. I dug and classified to 1/8 inch, seven five gallon buckets of dirt from under the roots of the tree that kept the far bank of the creek in place. We set up the riffle box in the creek and ran it all through. When we were done I could see nothing that looked like gold in the riffle box, but we took the mat, cleaned it, and panned the resulting dirt. There, in my very first ever pan, was 15 colors. I don't care if you've never seen gold before, you know what it is you're looking at when you do. The rest of the pans ended with similar findings. Pan down to a big pile of black sand, tap the pan on the side a few times and there at the top, shiny yellow.

Our finds got the attention of one of the cabin owners, John, and the three of us spent a lot of time digging, classifing, running that through the sluce and panning it out for the gold. There were no pickers ever found, all flower gold, all placer gold, but we were finding gold in almost every pan. Some of our prospecting, which was only on the part of the creek owned by the campgrounds, turned up garnets. Most of those garnets were of little value and quite featureless, but ever once in a while a real pretty one would show up.

About two weeks into this endevor Tom says, "you know what? I'm going to file a claim." and he did. He called the state and couldn't find anyone who knew anything about filing a gold claim in NY, but one guy knew a guy that used to work for the state who might know. That state employee called the retired employee and got the claim headed in the right direction. The first paperwork was mostly stating that we knew the law and anything we found was property of the state. The guy who sent this also said that unless we started finding a lot, he (acting on behalf of the state) wasn't really concerned about the state getting it. Two weeks later we had the claim, which Tom framed and kept in his cabin.

We never really found a lot of gold. Each had maybe the best part of a small vial filled. We never really ran a lot of material either. We had palns on digging the bend of the creek where it went into the culvert under the road, I'm sure there is gold there. Conditions were never right to move that amount of material before Tom sold the campgrounds. Tom passed away shortly after the sale. I moved on and started metal detecting.

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Heck of a read there Scott. Sorry to hear about the passing of Tom. Sounds like you guys were doing it right. Just enough for excitement - but not enough to lose your heads. I've seen guys spend thousands and thousands for a few dollars return. Gold fever is real - a true addiction that can break a person if not careful. Glad you fellas kept your heads on.

joy of it for me is just getting out and finding something hard to find - and spending time with my kids who like to go help me dig. (my son anyways...my daughter likes to lay on a blanket with the dogs and tell us how we are doing it wrong).

As far as that NY law - I would never personally say the thing. It is an outdated law made years ago. Manhattan property rent is all the gold NY needs.

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For sure if I ever find anymore NY gold it will be found in Vermont.

No doubt gold fever is real. I'm guessing if this had happened ten years earlier we would have dug the creek twenty foot deeper, dumped a ton of time and money into a very little return...we had plans on up-scaling the production with a high banker, a much bigger sluice (we had designed but never started) and a dredge for where the creek dumped into the lake and a few other ideas...since we were finding gold in the box culvert, I kept saying wait until the creek is right and we'll move the dirt from there. If we find a payload there then we can up-scale....but that never happened....I'm guessing again that between the three of us we found close to $100 worth of gold...probably making pennies an hour, if that.

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