When a bucket line dredge scooped up creek material and ran it through a trommel with 3/4-inch holes, anything larger than 3/4 inch was ejected onto the tailing piles. Most of the gold was small and was melted down into ingots. Dredge miners did concern themselves with the possibility of losing the larger nuggets. Those nuggets are lying right in the area where they first fell. They were wet, muddy (clay robbed their sluices), and heavy, and when they hit the top of the pile, the tended to slide down the side. Therefore, the largest nuggets will be toward the side or near the bottom of the pile, not on top.
With the proper permission, you can scan these piles with your gold detector. People find gold every day this way but luck certainly plays a part. Detecting for nuggets is not limited to dredge piles, however. Again, with the proper permission, you can scan old mine dumps and maybe find the nugget of your dreams. Here's how to do it.
Detecting Tailing Piles or Mine Dumps
- Set up on the sice of the pile, or where two piles meet near the bottom.
- Dig in and move the material to create a flat area to stand on.
- Clear the flat area of any metal.
- Put down a piece of plywood two feet on a side.
- Undermine the tailing pile and rake the material onto the plywood.
- With a magnet (attached to the rake), pull the iron out of the material.
- Scan the material on the plywood with your gold detector.
- If you locate a target, dig into the target area with a plastic scoop.
- Pass the scoop with the material over the coil of your detector.
- If the target is not in the scoop, discard the material and repeat with the scoop.
- When the target is determined to be in your scoop, check to make sure no more targets are on the plywood and push the remainder of the material off the plywood.
- Slowly pour the material in your scoop that contains the target over the coil of your detector until the target hits the loop and creates a signal.
- Pick up the target. With luck, it will be gold.