Many years ago when I was still quite green at the nugget shooting game I made my first real find. I already had found some nuggets near my home, but they were only coming in mostly ones and twos. Every now and then I’d find several in one area, but not often. So I decided to hit the books and find a better spot and after some reading decided on the Quartzsite area Due to it’s history for gold nuggets.
So packing up the truck and loading up Ben my loyal companion of the 4 legged variety we hit the road, Ben has since fallen to old age and I sure miss the old boy. Quartzsite is located in west central Arizona along Interstate 10 near the border of California and was about 150 miles from where I lived at the time so I planned on camping out for a couple of days in the area I had targeted for my hunt.
I stopped in Quartzsite for a few supplies then drove the 11 or so miles to my turnoff at Tom Wells Road. Driving through a truck stop and heading into the desert I came to the old Hwy 60 and turned right following it to the first left into the placer area. Following the map through the maze of roads and trails was no easy task as there are usually more roads than are shown and this was before GPS technology was available to us civilians. Any way after an hour or more I managed to locate Goodman Wash and from there I was able to locate the area I planned to start my hunt.
Well plans change as we all know and mine were changed for me by claim markers. So old Ben and I climbed back into the truck and drove a couple more miles and turned onto a old trail following it back a mile or so to it’s end. This would be camp and although not the exact spot I had in mind there was evidence of placer work in the main drainage as well as some of the smaller ones.
Now I had seen no one up to this point, but as soon as I finished setting up camp an old blue Chevy pickup truck came bouncing down the trail to my camp. I knew he had to be coming here because I was at the end of the trail. So I put Ben in the truck and waited, turns out this is the fellow that has the claims at the first spot I stopped and he was just seeing what I was up to.
Well we talked for quite a while over a cold drink and boy did I get an ear full! The old boy even pointed a finger for me and mentioned a small drainage I should try. After he left I realized we never even exchanged names, but I guess that isn’t always important. I waved as he bounced over the hill and went back to getting set up to hunt nuggets.
So I got my Fisher Gold Bug all set up and headed over the ridge to find that spot. As I crested the ridge down below I could see the placer work that had been done in all of the small gulches and this is were I started my hunt. I began by working in the first gulch I came to and my very first target was a nugget of about a penny weight. I thought at that point I was really into it and got right back after it, I got another signal right away and dug a bullet. The rest of the day went like that bullet, wire, rusty metal and every other kind of metal trash you can imagine.
So on my way back to camp I decided to swing a few tailing piles before calling it a day. Again lot’s of trash! Then on the third or fourth pile I got a really good signal after raking down the top 4 inches with my pick. I dug down another 6 inches or so and got the target into my plastic scoop. What a beauty, gold with purple quartz through it and it had to be near 4 penny weight. I hunted until dark finding a very small piece in another pile then called it quits for the day with a new plan for tomorrow. Tailing piles!!!
The next morning I was up with the sun and feverishly raking tailing piles. By noon I was back at camp wondering why I had not found a nugget yet. So after lunch I packed up the truck and walked back over the hill to hunt for a few hours before heading home. I walked a ways to a new area and began raking a few piles and only found trash. Stopping to look around I noticed that the old timers stopped working this little gulch about 100 feet from where it began.
It was getting into mid afternoon so I decided to work this gulch to the top and head home. I began just below where they had stopped working and found several small bits of wire then I got a nugget, a nice one. After 6 hours or so of trash I now felt much better, but I was not ready for what came next. Every few steps I would get a target and every target was GOLD! My old dog must have thought me nuts the way I was dancing around. By the time I got 3/4 of the way to the top it was starting to get late and I had a good handful of nuggets.
Now gold is funny stuff, I didn’t know what to do. I had to go home to the family and had to go to work the next day, but leaving the patch, my first real patch was unthinkable. Common since won out in the long run and I drove home planning on returning the following weekend. Let me tell you it was a good feeling to show the family that long sought after first handful of nuggets all found on one outing. I returned to the area on and off over the years always finding more gold and to this day if you work hard enough in the area you can still squeak one out?
The gold in the title photo is not the handful in the story, but another handful from other stories…..