Prospecting Fun in Cowlitz County - Modern-day Treasure Hunts Await!Several rivers, creeks, located through-out Cowlitz County hold varying amounts of Gold, Platinum, and other minerals. While you may not strike it rich, there are many exciting areas to try your hand and gold panning.
Bob's Sporting Goods located in Longview, WA, carries a large assortment of basic prospecting equipment, supplies, and informational materials. www.bobsmerch.com
When a lode deposit weathers, gold and other minerals that resist weathering remain. Some of these minerals are called 'heavy minerals' because a given volume weighs more than the same volume of most other minerals. Many heavy minerals are black and make up what are commonly referred to as 'black sands'. When the weathered material is transported in a stream, heavy minerals (including gold) settle into crevices and any other depressions in the streambed and form placer deposits. Gold in the sand and gravel in the streambed can be recovered by panning.
The DFW publishes a booklet "Gold and Fish" to provide details and definitions for use by recreational gold panners. Be sure to obtain and read a copy of "Gold and Fish", which you must carry with you whenever you are panning. The booklet also lists the classes of different streams and seasonal restrictions to certain activities on the various streams. If you have ant questions, contact the DFW.
It is important to know where in Washington you can go to find land that is 'open' for recreational panning. The map shows general areas in which gold placer deposits have been found. Not all of these localities are open for recreational panning.
Federal lands managed
by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and
the U.S. Forest Service (but not all federal
lands) are open to panning (and
prospecting). These federal agencies provide
maps showing which lands they manage. Obtain
a map from either of these agencies for the
area where you plan to pan.
If you have questions about land ownership, check with your Local County Assessor. Assessors maintain records of all land ownership in each county.
When doing more than
recreational panning on public lands you
should check with appropriate land
management agency (Forest Service, Bureau of
Land Management). If an HPA is required, you
should check with these federal land
management agencies to file operation plans
with them also.
How To Pan
Quickly move the pan
from side to side, either under water or
while it is full of water, and rotate the
pan's contents (but don't spill the
contents). This action gives the gold
particles a chance to settle to the bottom.
Continue the motion
described in steps 3 and 4, allowing water
to wash lighter material over the brim until
only a small amount of material remains in
the pan. You'll need to add water to the
water in the pan to further clean the
concentrates, being careful not to lose any
gold. Recovering gold by panning takes