A California man recently dug a spectacular gold nugget weighing 5.17 ounces in the mother lode region of Mariposa County, California. The gentleman who found it made his discovery while using a metal detector to look for gold nuggets in an area previously worked by the 49ers. The finder valued his amazing chunk of gold at approximately $10,000 because of its beautiful specimen quality. The nugget was resting beneath about one foot of soil, and was recovered in late April of 2007. Several friends have been working this area with excellent results, and a good number of valuable finds have been made. Only a few weeks before this most recent stunning find, another nugget, over three ounces in weight, was recovered only about 50 feet away from the spot the five-ounce nugget was found. The location is on private property, and is not open to the public. Locations containing concentrations of large nuggets like this one are known to prospectors as “nugget patches”, and finding them is the goal of prospectors everywhere.
Modern metal detectors are proving to be quite a boon in recovering large gold nuggets, as the old time prospectors had no tool in their arsenal that was anything close to it. Although there is work and special skills required to find this type of big gold, experienced prospectors in the western US and Australia are having some considerable success finding rich nugget patches missed by the old time miners of the 1800s. The recent increases in the price of gold, now standing at nearly $700 per ounce, has spurred the interest of many in pursuing the recreational art of prospecting for gold, and many are still heading to the hills to see what they can find.
Mariposa County is a historic location in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range at the southern end of California’s Mother Lode region. The town of Mariposa is a popular tourist attraction, touted as the “gateway to Yosemite Valley”. There are a number of other popular family oriented tourist attractions in the area as well, including California’s State Mining and Mineral Museum. The collection contains mining artifacts, rare specimens of crystalline gold in its many forms, as well as beautiful gem and mineral specimens from California and around the world. This includes the Fricot nugget, a 200-ounce crystalline gold specimen from California, thought to be one of the most beautiful pieces of natural gold in the world. The town also allows gold panning in Mariposa Creek, which runs through the town.