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finding gold in waterfalls

Unless you dig deep for it, more coarse gold can and has been found in the last 40 years, at the bases of waterfalls. One close second is the use of metal detectors that were used to comb tailing piles or used to work gold bearing desert areas. But I am here to help you locate gold wherever it is.

Gold concentrates are very high at the base of waterfalls as they are a natural sluice box and will wash away everything but large rocks and coarse gold. This waterfall extractor method offers some challenges.

If there is one water hazard in nature that traps gold, it would be the waterfall.


This is the pinnacle of a stream's natural sluice box in action. Typically the bottom of most waterfalls is unreachable by most placer miners. A few hardy skin divers will chance smaller falls to pick nuggets from the water worn depressions when the water flow is at it's lowest. But most of these forced water showers are unapproachable by most everyone.






Early miners used to divert the stream's flow if they thought there was enough gold to extract. Please keep in mind this was in 1849 when gold prices were $21 an ounce, not the $1300 plus we see today. The law prevents you from damming or diverting a river or stream, but if you can remove coarse gold from the depression at the bottom of a fall, it's yours!

First of all, don't risk your life to try to get this golden treasure. Your life is worth more than a chance to pick nuggets. I faced this problem myself when I lived in Clearwater, BC, Canada. Many of the waterfalls had some very decent gold at their base. I won't mention the names of the more productive falls, but these pounding waterways were virtually untouched by anyone. Of course getting the yellow mineral out was a real first. I tried long sticks with little scoops on the end. Sticky tar, also on a stick. For kicks I even tried a super magnet on a string. One fishing lure and a bunch of black sand later I was still no closer to safely getting gold. Sure wish I had a Gold Hornet at that time.

In the later summer, the kids would dive off the steep canyon sides into the waterfall depression. This water depth was between 10 and 12 feet deep. They thought it was funny that I wouldn't just dive down to the bottom and take a look for myself. Due to the pounding water force, it was tough to wear an underwater facemask. I did eventually make it to the bottom of this particular fall (briefly) and there were a couple monster boulders and a lot of well worn large gravel chunks that I could see.

It was too dangerous to dive down and pull out buckets of gravel / concentrate. Even if I managed to fill a small bucket, the water force would push it back to the bottom very quickly. Ironically, the answer wouldn't present itself for two more years, after I made a trip to the Fraser River.

I went with a friend, who was an avid gold panner, to a famous gold bearing river. I was sampling the inside bend of a coarsely textured sand bar on an inside curve when I heard shouting. Another weekend prospector was jumping up and down yelling about some nuggets (three as a matter of fact) he had just found. I went down to see his treasures and where he had found them. He had strung up a long rope across the river and pulled himself onto a very small island that had formed behind a boulder about 1/3 of the way across. Then he shoveled down a ways (I don't know how deep) and pulled out three nice nuggets and a quantity of large flake gold. The reward he received for risking his life was nice, but, not worth the chance he took. He said "the big stuff" was upstream in a narrow rocky chute that the river roared through. His friend had pulled a few pieces of gold from between some of the rocks with a narrow hook / shovel he had made.

I looked at the whole situation and decided there had to be a better way.


When I got home from that trip I started working on a portable, high suction Gold Recovery Pump that could reach out and pull coarse gold from some of these next to impossible locations. After a lot of missed attempts I finally created the stand up pump you see today. I have since gone on to create the Gold Hornet Suction Pump. If you find yourself "cherry picking" nugget zones, the Gold Hornet offers maximum portability. For multi dimpled or cracked bedrock, under rock shelves or just vacuuming up target rich areas the Hornet is a lightweight gold trap.

I was able to return to both the Fraser River and the Clearwater areas, hitting some choice spots. I worked the waterfall depressions with great success. I used the PVC suction wand to nose through the surface coarse gravel and pull some heavy flake and small gold pieces / nuggets from the bottom of the falls.

In the case of the Fraser River, when I returned to "The Chute", the water level was high so I had to probe blindly with the suction wand. Feeling my way into pockets with the tip of the pump's wand. I felt a spot where the tip got caught, jammed into a tight pocket. I gave the handle a few good strokes and could hear some gravel hitting the end of the capture cartridge's end cap. I tried a few more spots in a kind of hit and run style. A little material was sucked up the nozzle (again I could hear the pieces hit the cartridge) but the river was really pounding so I went to a back eddy to pan out what little material I had extracted. One reasonable nugget (1/4") and his little brother (a tiny wire shaped piece). I only hit about 6 - 7 spots and was astounded at what came through. I was definitely going to return in late August when the water level was much lower.

From water falls to natural rock sluice boxes, gold gets into some of the most challenging locations. Don't ever turn down a chance to pull nuggets from these spots. It is because few, if any, will ever try these great areas that you will be successful here. Use grabber tools, special shovels, Gold pumps, or whatever you can come up with to extract the wealth that is waiting for you.

Just don't ever risk your life, it is NOT worth the price.

 Diagram of Gold in Waterfalls

    My Gold Panning

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