Oct 30, 2005
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Wasilla, Alaska, United States
I feel completely lost when I walk up to a mountain stream with my pan. Do you just dig in behind a rock and go for it? Or, pull some material down from a dry cut bank? Just looking for some suggestions on structure to look for and why type of soil. If anyone has any pictures of the type of terrain to look for I would greatly appreciate it.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Jul 23, 2003
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Valdez, Alaska


It is basic physics. An object tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by another force. So a nugget that is washed into a stream will take a straight a path unless some other force changes the path. Rocks, logs, clumps of grass and other items that create natural eddies will stop gold. Also bends in the river will stop gold.

Gold also likes to migrate downward as it is heavier and wants to sink. So a crack in the bedrock, a clay layer or such will stop gold from migrating downward. Checking cracks for gold is called sniping. It is a very good way to do well. A gold sucker can also be used to clean out cracks.

You need these days to think of where has no one tried yet. The large commercial operations did not waste time on some areas. They were concerned with large volumnes of material movement that hopefull produced large amounts of gold.

Some of the newest major finds have been by people not digging in the current riverbed, but where the river was thousands of years ago on old benches. George Massey (Outdoor Channel founder and father of Tom and Perry) did two major finds in just this manner. Thinking outside the box.

Probably no poem says it all like this one.

The Spell of the Yukon
by: Robert W. Service

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy-I fought it;
I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it-
Came out with a fortune last fall-
Yet somehow life's not what I thought it,
And somehow the gold isn't all.

Nol There's the land. (Have you seen it?)
It's the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made it,
Some say it's a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there's some as would trade it
For no land on earth-and I'm one.

You come to get rich (****ed good reason);
You feel like an exile at first;
You hate it like hell for a season,
And then you are worse than the worst.
It grips you like some kinds of sinning,
It twists you from foe to a friend;
It seems it's been since the beginning,
It seems it will be to the end.

I've stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow
That's plumb-full of hush to the brim;
I've watched the big, husky sun wallow
In crimson and gold, and grow dim,
Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming,
And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop,
And I've thought that I surely was dreaming,
With the peace o' the world piled on top.

The summer-no sweeter was ever;
T'he sunshiny woods all athrill;
The grayling aleap in the river,
T'he bighorn asleep on the hill.

Tlh strong life that never knows harness;
T'he wilds where the caribou call;
T'he freshness, the freedom, the faress
0 God! how I'm stuck on it all.

The winter! the brightness that blinds you,
The white land locked tight as a drum,
The cold fear that follows and finds you,
Tle silence that bludgeons you dumb.
The snows that are older than history,
Tle woods where the weird shadows slant;
The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,
I've bade 'em good-bye-but I can't.

There's a land where the mountains are nameless,
And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons;
There are valleys unpeopled and still,
There's a land-oh, it beckons and beckons,
And I want to go back-and I will.

They're making my money diminish;
I'm sick of the taste of champagne.
Thank Godl when I'm skinned to a finish
I'll pike to the Yukon again.
I'll fight-and you bet it's no sham-fight;
It's hell!-but I've been there before;
And it's better than this by a damsite-
So me for the Yukon once more.

T'here's gold, and it's haunting and haunting;
It's luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn't the gold that I'm wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It's the great, big, broad land 'way up yonder,
It's the forests where silence has lease;
It's the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It's the stillness that fills me with peace.


New member
Nov 18, 2006
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i have had some decent luck looking behind boulders, and in old dried out streambeds.

a sluice box mimics the physics of a river, so naturally the gold will be behind rocks and stuff. i once found a stash of vertical shale, worked it for an hour, probably one cubic foots worth. and found quite a bit.


New member
Apr 25, 2006
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As stated in an earlier post gold in a stream likes to move in a straight line. I always like to try the inside bend in a stream. If there is any exposed bedrock between the inside bend and center of the creek, all the more better. You can also "draw a line" from inside bend to inside bend and look for likely spots to search....bedrock, behind boulders etc... anywhere on the line.
Gold does migrate down into the stream material until it hits an impenetrable layer.....either bedrock, a clay layer etc. That said though, you can find flood gold (gold that has recently washed out and into a stream, or stirred up by recent flooding) closer to the top at times. Good luck!


New member
Nov 18, 2006
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i would look into becoming a member of the gpaa if you are gonna go try for some. they give you maps, and all sorts of stuff. and there are gpaa claims all over the place.

one day i hope to get my arse to nome to see what all the fuss is about. lol