Northern California was pelted with record rainfall this winter, and miners predicted that once all the water washed away, gold would be left in its wake. It appears that their predictions are panning out.Those mountains (the Sierras) are pretty big, and I doubt that miners found all the veins of gold in them, so, yeah, it seems likely that heavy rains, floods and rockslides could turn up some new shiney stuff.
“Folks are finding more gold — ‘flood gold’ — than usual this year,” said Diana Clayton, president of the Shasta Miners & Prospectors Association, which owns seven claims throughout Northern California and boasts about 350 members.
“Many of our members have been mining for decades,” Clayton said. “They really know the area. And they know there’s been changes.”
Bryant Shock, co-owner of Gold Prospecting Adventures in Jamestown, Calif., estimates that there’s been a quarter increase in professional miners heading up north – a sure sign of a legitimate gold rush, he says.
So too, Shock has seen bigger chunks of the mineral unearthed this season than in recent years, and not just near streams and rivers. Heavy rainfall triggers slides, he explained, which create cutouts in the hills and deposit small bits of gold in gulches and ravines.
“I’ve heard of people walking along, kicking the dirt and finding a piece of gold,” Clayton added. She said a Shasta Miner recently uncovered a nugget half the size of her pinkie finger – that’s a biggie.
I guess I should have tried panning some gold while I was hanging around Murphys a few weeks ago. There's a pretty decent video of drone footage from the Oroville Dam spillway at the link that's definitely worth watching.