I did it, I found GOLD! We’re rich!!….well….maybe I didn’t find enough to pay for the trip….or a tankful of gas….or a cup of coffee…but I found GOLD!!.
We were heading towards Aberdeen on Thursday to visit Bill who’s stationed at Ft. Bragg and we had reached the end of our limit, so we found a place we could jump on the Internet and look up a campground. We found the Cotton Patch Gold Mine and Campground in New London, NC. They were full, but we could boondock and boy am I glad we did.
We got there and it was a very small campground about 20 sites total, but very friendly. The guy who owns it, bought it 11 months ago and is fixing it up – after 11 years of decay. It needs work, but it is going in the right direction. It’s a operating gold mine and it’s been open to the public for panning since 1961.
I had a great time talking to several of the other campers. Russ was there to fix cars. He follows bad weather and hopes to be in the area a couple months fixing the hail damage from the storm that they had last week (phew!). Mike was down from Manassas for the weekend to pan. He told me he’d stopped to visit the Tank Museum on the way down (hmmm I wonder if I can get Carol Ane to visit it…after all, it is a museum….nahh)
Friday morning came with the air clean and crisp from the rain in the night. I got a cup of coffee and took my dulcimer to the log cabin that is the office and sat on the porch in a rocking chair and greeted the day with some music. Then it was time for the big event, gold panning.
I paid my fee and got my five buckets of material and pan and started panning. Now panning is a lot of work, you have to shake the pan to get the big rocks to the top (gold is heavy so it sinks to the bottom). You pull the rocks off and repeat to get the pebbles out, and you repeat again to get more pebbles out. Then you have to gently swish the pan (a lot!) to get the sand out and you are left with the black sand and the gold. It’s a lot of work!
But fortunately, some bloke invented the spiral pan. It sits in the water at an angle and has a spiral running into the center. You turn the motor on and dump the dirt on one side and the spirals pull the material into the center, dumping all the lighter stuff out of the pan. What you end up with is just the black sand and gold (if any). You process a bucket of material in the time it takes to pan one pan full of material. A truly labor saving device.
So…how did I do? Met some more interesting people, had a lot of fun and I ended up with seven flakes of gold which worth more that the diamonds I found! Not bad.