During the 1999 Labor Day Gold Grab, the widely accepted saying "The Arkansas River only has flour gold" was proven wrong by the discovery of a 17-1/2 grain nugget, nearly 3/4 pennyweight. Leonard and Steve Leeper were dredging together on Vista Mining's claims on the Arkansas River near Buena Vista, Colorado, when the monster nugget showed up on the front mat of the dredge. Leonard's first thought upon seeing the nugget while washing down the sluice box was, "Look at that big stupid yellow rock! It won't wash down" After shutting down the dredge motor when the water subsided, the "stupid yellow rock" revealed it's true composition and the celebration began. Prospectors up and down the river were able to hear the whooping and hollering. Everyone came to see the nugget in the dredge box. Pictures were taken and it was then removed and passed around for everyone to handle.
The nugget was a grand finale for four days of camping and dredging. Gold Prospectors of the Rockies members Leonard Leeper and son Steve Leeper, Rick Kleeman, Chris Flitcroft, and Wilda Garber camped together along the river on the GPAA claims. Communal meals, nightly campfires, lots of great conversation, and plenty of "cool ones" filled in the hours not spent prospecting. The weather cooperated and was great. The water was high but warm by Colorado standards.
The dredging trip was Steve's first and Leonard's famous saying, "The dredge owner gets first pick," wasn't exercised, so Steve received the nugget. Leonard retained temporary possession of it for display at the September GPR meeting.
All who attended the third annual Gold Grab found gold and would like to extend an enthusiastic vote of thanks to Phil Martinez and Michelle Allen of Vista Mining for the generous use of the claims. Plans are already in the making for a return trip to search for the nugget's big brother.