Vista Mining Adventures
Phil Sr., Phillip Jr., Aaron
Email: Vista Mining
Vista mining is available for one on one instruction by appointment. We provide instruction for dowsing, panning, sluicing, dredging, and fine gold recovery. We can also test your property, help locate mining claims, or train your personal.
Call today for more information
Dredging: A Miner's Story
My son called the other day with one of his “there’s got to be an easier way to make a living” speeches. I listened diligently as he spoke of mining in the Colorado Mountains and specifically, gold panning, sluicing, and dredging for gold. I know he’s right, most of the gold in Colorado has not been found yet—basic research can tell you that.
But getting the gold is another story…..
Many people come to Colorado to pan for gold in the streams or they use a sluice box, and then there are the ultra-serious experienced miners who use a dredge. The people who know what they’re doing find enough gold to make a living each year while those who are not so talented go home empty handed.
The work is hard, but fun and enjoyable. The Colorado Mountains are full of things to see and experiences to be had….and gold to be found. It would be nice if my son were right—if he could pan for gold or get a sluice box or dredge and find enough gold during the summer to live the rest of the year comfortably.
Unfortunately, my son has absolutely no idea of the reality of gold mining. Consulting your good friend Google and watching You Tube is not the way to learn about finding gold in Colorado. If you want to know about finding gold, then go to the source—an experienced gold miner.
The following was taken from a fourth generation gold miner living just outside of Leadville, Colorado. I typed the words he spoke to me then emailed them to my son, who has now decided to actually learn to pan for gold instead of learning to pan from You Tube.
Dredging the Arkansas River has many challenges for the miner. The first is; how do I get all this dredge equipment down to the river? It didn't look like this much equipment back at the house! Now, it must be about 180 feet or better down to that river.
The trail to the river starts down at a gradual slope and then gets real steep. The trail is lined with boulders and cactus, biting ants, and loose rocks—the perfect setting for a skinned knee or broken finger.
I decide to take the 8 h.p. motor first. I tie it tightly with a rope to my two wheel dolly and down the trail I go, over boulders and through the cactus. I travel only a few feet before coming to the steep part of the trail…oh lord don't let me crash and burn!
After skidding down the trail in a cloud of dust and rocks, and a few good choice words, I make it to the river. Wow, only 99 more trips and I’ll have all the dredge equipment down to the river. Now did I tell you that I am 61 years young and I do not bounce like I used to? Thanks to the good lord, I manage to get the equipment down to the river with the help of friends and family.
After putting the dredge together I stand, staring at the trail and the dredge, admiring the hard work my 61 year old body just accomplished. My gold recovery equipment consists of a Neffco centrifuge on pontoons. The dredge has a 7' foot box with a sump at the end of the box and an 1/8" by 14 gauge screen which is the full length of the box. The screen is 1.5 " above the sluice floor, and there is a 2 feet of 1.5" tall Hungarian riffle at the end of the box. There is a hopper/grizzly that screens the material to 1/2 " at the head of the box. We screen the material to 1/8 " inch and pump this material to the centrifuge.
The Neffco centrifuge can capture the very fine gold the Arkansas River is known for. The river has pay streaks of very fine gold that just wash through a normal sluice box but my centrifuge holds this size of gold.
The heavy iron that causes recovery problems with normal sluices is handled by the centrifuge and this allows us longer dredging time. The gold larger than 1/8" is caught in the riffles and this only needs to be cleaned once a day. This concentrate can be panned in a tub at the river so any large gold can be recovered. The concentrate that is removed from the centrifuge amounts to about 10 or 12 pounds of black sand and gold. This is run across a U-tech table and sized to 20 mesh and the high grade concentrate is dried, flux is added and then smelted.
After many years dredging on this river this is the system that works for us. We are preparing for the new season and looks like it's going to be a good one.
Lots of luck in your golden adventures, Phil Martinez, Vista Mining Adventures
Planning your Colorado Vacation?
Call Vista Mining Adventures today and visit an active Colorado Gold Mining Claim. Stop by and watch us as we dredge the Arkansas River or let us teach you to pan for gold.
Call or email us today to schedule your gold filled day.