top of page


quarts in rivers

gold mining in northern rivers

Gold mining northern rivers is quite different from mining other areas. First of all, rivers speak their own language when it comes to gold. Then throw in the northern part and you have a unique gold mining situation. I'll use my favorite river and that is the Fraser in British Columbia.

The key here is winter, in other words, does the river freeze over or have ice jams?

There are many an occurrence of coarse and semi-coarse gold being found on top of sand bars in the Fraser River. The most popular theory is that the spring melt carries gold over top of these sand bars. That is not possible. The type of flow and the force involved to carry nuggets up onto sand bars would wash away those same sand bars.

Of course many of those people suggest that the spring melt washes heavy gold on to those bars have never actually seen the river in winter. I mean really seen it up close during the height of winter. From January until breakup (April) some enormous ice jams form wherever the canyon walls narrow. This is typically where there are rapids during the rest of the year.

During really cold winters, massive ice dams form, backing up for miles. The pressure on the narrow river canyons must be massive, but the solid rock walls hold back ice like it is nothing. Even during winter the river continues to flow.


The amount of water making it's way through the river's channels is much less than during the summer, but there is still quite a volume. The flow of water carries and packs ice up into mini glaciers, sometimes 40 feet thick where the rock walls narrow. This ice dam / glacier effect carries back for miles causing flooding to low lying areas.

What most people don't know is that this ice builds up so thick that is scrapes the gravels and bedrock on the bottom of the riverbed. When breakup finally happens and the ice starts to melt, these ice sheets are loaded with impacted gravel and of course, gold. An ice dam typically first slows the river current then is stacked up like massive building blocks. When enough water gathers behind these mini ice glaciers it starts to move them. Sections of ice extend down to the very bottom of the river. Besides the deafening noise when the ice moves, the current just pushes these ice sheets forward trying to release the water held behind the ice dam. The ice gets shoved anywhere there is space. I have seen ice rammed over 200 feet up a side stream that normally empties into the river.

Anyway, the part you care about is to know that after a cold winter with lots of river ice, look for gold ON sand bars in cracks up away from the river's edge.


Really anywhere there is a spot or depression above the water level.

I have been down to the river in March / April and it is quite a sight to see.


Polka dotted ice and gravel cemented into these large ice sheets. But, the strangest thing I have seen trapped in the ice was half a truck tire...just half. It looked like the other half was just sheared away. You could see the nylon and steel fibers just poking out of the ice...Mother Nature just taking out the trash.

Just before closing I want to mention to also watch for semi precious gems and stones. I have found quite a bit of jade and some other really cool translucent stones in the same areas on the sand bars.

This theory might explain why gold can be found only on top of sandbars and not "in them".

Hope you find nuggets. Please let me know if you have success using this gold mining method.

    My Gold Panning

    bottom of page