Wednesday, February 25, 2009


This picture was taken in 1889, and it shows three men panning for gold. The picture was taken near Rockerville in the Dakota Territory. There are people who still pan for gold. I had a friend when I lived in New Mexico, and every weekend he would head up to the mountains with his equipment, and he would find gold nuggets. He was really obsessed with it, but I think when you counted the cost of the gas, equipment, and other expenses, he never came out ahead. Something he really loved to do, and always gave him the dream of hitting it big.


  1. Excellent hobby... the great outdoors and a dream.
    I had some dust I panned from Bear Creek in Dawson, Yukon Territory, but a US Border Guard dumped it out of a film canister looking for drugs.

  2. Looks like backbreaking and tiresome work.

    But . . . fun for a hobby.

  3. Great photograph.
    The adventure of it appeals
    to me. I'd love to have a
    go at panning for gold.

    They still do it here in
    Wales and I think Scotland
    but on a very small scale.

    The Roman Empire stole most
    of it.

  4. At today's gold prices it might be worthwhile to prospect for it. Currently worth more than $960[US] per Troy ounce.

  5. Really enjoying this site. Peeks into unusual times and places. Learning tidbits from "expert" posts. The modern equivalent of what these guys are doing would be buying a lottery ticket.

  6. Brother Dave

    I checked gold mining
    in Wales, and it seems
    the last mines closed in
    1998. It now attracts
    mainly tourists and
    people looking for a bit
    of fun panning for a
    few grains.

  7. Here in North Georgia, there are clubs who gather to pan for gold. This was the area of the first gold rush in the US before the Civil War. The war shut gold mining down, and it never really got back going afterwards. There's still a lot out there tho.

  8. Looks like tough work when it gets cold.

  9. I know these guys. After they quit looking for gold they started the famous band ZZ Top.

  10. People still pan in Northern CA in the area where gold was found in 1848. Last year a teenager found a nice size nugget in a nearby lake, at the edge of the water. Worth $5500. see a video at

  11. ray uk — As well, I forgot that gold ore still must be refined for its precious metal.

  12. Great, old photo! I've panned in several places in Alaska, and it can be quite addicting. I've recovered only small nuggets, but they were so very exciting at the time. It's not hard work, in fact it can be relaxing and a lot of fun.

  13. Additional note: It's interesting that there has been no significant improvement in the technology. The only difference I have seen is that some pans are now made out of heavy black resin-type material. A black pan makes it easier to see the 'color'.