Saturday, September 12, 2009

My Cache Creek Gold Panning Experience

Gayle Gresham and Shirley Weilnau

After my first visit to Cache Creek in 2006, I began to dream about panning for gold in the same creek as my great-great-grandfather did in 1861. My dream came true this week after I discovered Shirley Weilnau's website, Hooked On Gold, while searching for Cache Creek info online. Shirley had her Twitter updates on her blog and, of course, I had to follow her. We began chatting and I told her of my desire to pan for gold at Cache Creek. Her reply, "Well, we'll be there tomorrow. Come on up!" Tomorrow didn't work for me, but Friday, September 11 did!

Shirley and her husband, Larry, welcomed John and I to the Cache Creek recreational mining area. They took us on a hike to show us some interesting sites, then it was time to get down to the nitty gritty. See my post "Gayle's Panning For Gold Video" to see how I learned to wash out the gravel. My wonderful husband took the pictures and video.
Once I'd washed the sand, gravel and rocks out of my pan, Shirley taught me how to separate the gold from the black sand. I tapped the top of the pan to "walk" the gold up to the top. I swirled the water in the pan a little to fan out the black sand. Then I began to swish water up and down to draw the black sand away from the gold. In the following picture (click it to enlarge it) you can see the black sand near the top of the pan. Just above it are three tiny particles of gold. Do you see them? My very first gold!

My first gold!

I washed about 6 pans of gold. There was gold in every pan but one. Shirley and Larry were so patient with teaching me how to pan. I learned to always keep the dirt covered with water as I pan, even when fanning the black dirt. And, Shirley told me that for a beginner I have a pretty good swish technique for washing away the black sand from the gold. Must be in my genes.

One pleasant surprise was a group of homeschoolers who were visiting that day to pan for gold. I asked if they'd like to hear Wilburn Christison's story and they graciously agreed. I love telling the story of the Cash Creek Miners to children. They especially like the part about Wilburn's children being the only white children in the camp and that they played with the Ute Indian children when they passed through.

Gayle, Shirley, and Larry

Now I am hooked on panning for gold. Ready to go buy a gold pan and a shovel! I knew any prospecting would be dangerous for me; after all, my great-great-grandfather, my great-grandfather, and my grandfather were all miners! And even though I didn't learn to pan for gold from my grandfather, I did learn from two former Colorado state champion gold panners. Thank you, Shirley and Larry, for making a dream come true.


Dianna said...

Thank you for speaking to our group that was up at Cache Creek that day. It was really neat to hear about more of the history of that area and to meet you.

TLC said...

Nice picture of my son's backside and me being frumpy while sitting on the rock and listening. LOL

Gayle Gresham said...

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk to your group, Dianna. I really enjoyed it.

Gayle Gresham said...

Sorry, TLC! I didn't have the best pictures to choose from. Hopefully, Shirley got some better ones.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Paula said...

Thank you SO MUCH for speaking to my girls! :D It was so neat to hear you!! :D

Paula said...

I just wanted to say that I posted some pics to my blog (of my family of course, but if you send me your email, I have some of the others that were there). :D

Gayle Gresham said...

Paula, loved the pictures on your blog!

Paty Jager said...

You had a wonderful experience panning in the same creek as your great grandfather.

Heidiwriter said...

Gayle, what fun!!
Great pictures.

Clark Miners said...

woooowww. . This is a very interesting information for us, I am very pleased with the gold panning activities and it was nice if I could vacation like you did to find grains of gold along with family members. Thank you for providing an extremely valuable information for us.


Clark Miners