Thursday, August 26, 2010

North Carolina Gold Prospecting

With almanac prices, the gold blitz is on in North Carolina
Article address of: The Charlotte Observer N.C. By KirstenValle
Nov. 5 2009 -- MONROE For this accumulation of modern-day abundance hunters, there are no yellowed maps or tales of active riches. But on a arctic abatement night during a affair at a advance blaze department, there was affluence of gold.
One man pulled a canteen from his jeans pocket, awkward the shimmery flakes inside. Another produced a covering accessory from his anorak and anxiously removed a palm-sized nugget, half-joking with the others to look, not touch.
Interest in hunting for gold has ballooned in contempo months. That's because gold prices accept surged to almanac levels, as bodies seek safer investments in these ambiguous bread-and-butter times. On Wednesday, gold futures hit an best aerial afore closing at $1,087 an ounce -- about 50 percent college than a year ago.
Local prospectors and abundance operators say they're abounding with calls as the unemployed and underemployed about-face to the hobby, fatigued by its bargain startup costs and the abeyant payoff. One has alike declared it the alpha of a "new gold rush."
But for bounded associates of the Gold Prospectors Affiliation of America -- those who accumulate anniversary ages at the blaze base on U.S. 601, aloof southeast of Mint Hill -- it's not about arresting it rich. Many accept been digging and animadversion and coursing for decades and haven't awash a distinct flake.
They say it's about friendship, nature, the adventure of crisscrossing the region's riverbeds and, aback they're lucky, apprehension chicken specks, abate than grains of rice, in the air-conditioned Carolina mud.
"It's the pride of saying, 'I begin this,'" said prospector George McDonald of Mint Hill.
Gold has a continued history in North Carolina, alpha at Reed Gold Abundance in Midland, 20 afar east of Charlotte. In 1799, agriculturalist John Reed's 12-year-old son begin a 17-pound bedrock while fishing, according to a affidavit account from Reed's son-in-law.
It was the nation's aboriginal accurate analysis of gold. The Reeds didn't apperceive it then, and the bedrock served as a doorstop for three years afore the ancestors awash it for $3.50 -- admitting it was account about $3,600 at the time.
More than 200 years later, the gold mine, now a accompaniment park, is still alluring crowds for a $2 adventitious to pan for gold. These days, staffers about accompany up the aerial gold prices on tours -- and acquisition a cardinal of echo visitors acquisitive to banknote in, N.C. Historic Sites bounded administrator Bob Remsburg said.
There's consistently been an absorption in this arena -- about 60 gold mines accept operated in Mecklenburg County over the years, and experts say there are trace amounts of gold on best backdrop in and about Charlotte. North Carolina was the nation's alone gold-producing accompaniment from 1803 until 1828, and it remained a arch ambassador until the California gold blitz of the backward 1840s.
Now, bounded enthusiasts say, there's added allocution of prospecting in the breadth than in years.
At the Cotton Patch abundance in Fresh London, a hotspot for acclimatized gold-hunters from the Carolinas and adjoining states, bodies are calling every day for tips, buyer Jeff Pickett said. There accept been 35 to 40 fresh visitors this abatement at the mine, 40 afar northeast of Charlotte, added than he's anytime seen, admitting business is collapsed overall, because the abridgement has affected some audience to accumulate a tighter authority on their arbitrary spending.
"We've got a amazing bulk of fresh bodies assuming up because they're unemployed or underemployed and are aggravating to supplement their income," he said. "We're seeing the alpha of a fresh gold rush."
Frank Waksmunski has been prospecting for about 30 years and sometimes sells his finds -- abnormally aback gold prices ascend -- to advice pay the bills. Growing up in Cabarrus County, he would ride his bike to Reed Gold Mine. Now, the home architect and remodeler has his own dredging accessories and spends about every weekend analytic bounded creeks.
A few accompany with old ancestors farms accept started attractive for gold recently, admitting they've kept quiet about their efforts, Waksmunski said. One, who absent his job with a heating and air conditioning business, has been attractive for six months and is bringing in $100 to $175 a day, Waksmunski said.
"They would not be accomplishing it if it were not for the aerial gold prices," he said. "There's a lot added digging activity on than bodies realize."
It's added accepted to acquisition tiny flakes than beyond nuggets, but all the same, there's money to be made, Pickett said. Some austere gold-hunters cull $100 to $300 a anniversary at Cotton Patch, and melancholia prospectors about accompany one to bristles ounces -- about $5,000 at today's prices -- anniversary summer.
That's not a guarantee, though, Pickett said. Gold is rare, prospecting requires backbone -- and some say it's added assisting to advertise gold-mining accessories than absolutely coursing for gold. It's not a amusement for the apathetic or calmly discouraged, Pickett said.
Gold agitation is hitting beyond the country. There are broadcast belief of bodies accident their jobs and affective west to try prospecting, a trend accepted during the Great Depression.
Over the accomplished two years, associates at the California-based Gold Prospectors Affiliation of America has developed 25 percent, to about 60,000 members, accepted administrator Ken Rucker said.
A lot of gold-hunting requires simple skills, such as acquirements "how to apprehend the beck and how to apprehend the earth," he said. A beyond part, perhaps, is luck, he said.
Local affiliation associates accept some success stories. There's the man whose sister-in-law begin abundant gold to biking the country for three years, attractive for more. The kid who abutting the accumulation on a contempo airing and came aback with the better asset anyone had apparent in years.
Most accumulate every cell they've begin -- and say money is the aftermost affair on their minds.
"The better botheration with (people in it for the money) is, already they get to do it, they acquisition there's not abundant money to be made, and they bead out," said McDonald, the prospector who brought his admired gold asset to the meeting.
The best parts, these prospectors say, are the adventure for the alien -- and the hopes of a dream find. Alone 10 percent of the world's gold has been found, accumulation admiral Glenn Coleman says often.
"Gold is consistently activity to be there," he said. "There's no way they can get it all."

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