Alberta is not famous for gold mining from mineral deposits buried deep underground, but better known for the extraction of placer gold deposits found in the rivers in the region. Many of the rivers running from the Rockies eastwards through Alberta have been found to have varying amounts of gold deposits. However, the overall quantities found have been quite limited and do not present a viable economic venture in comparison to the more extensive deposits that have been found in parts of British Columbia and the Yukon. Still, gold panning is worthwhile and can be quite successful if a prospector finds the right area to search. It is these deposits that played an important role in the gold rush witnessed in the region in the 1800s.
History of Gold Mining
Gold was discovered in Alberta back in the mid-1800s. Most of the interest in the gold found in this area stems from the availability of small deposits found in the rivers crisscrossing northern central Alberta. Some of these rivers that have been known to produce some fine gold includes the Peace River and Smoky River. Also the Athabasca and North Saskatchewan Rivers will both produce fine placer gold deposits and are great areas for Edmonton prospectors to explore.
These minor gold occurrences prompted a gold rush of sorts as prospectors and miners believed that the small deposits found in the rivers must be eroding from a large and more economically viable deposit somewhere in the area. Overall, the extremely fine nature of the placer gold found in Alberta has limited economic interest in gold here.
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The Lemon Gold Story
There is a popular legend told about a huge gold deposit that was found by two prospectors, Blackjack and Lemon in Alberta. However, like any legend, the difference between fact and fiction probably lie somewhere in the middle. It is said that the two friends found what is thought to be the source of the Alberta flour gold river deposits back in the late 1800s. After pitching camp they were so overwhelmed by the find that they disagreed on whether they should camp out there until they could mine the gold or should go back and return after winter. As they slept, Lemon woke up in the night and used an axe to murder his partner. However, once he realized this, he became overwhelmed with guilt and lost his mind.
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Blackfoot Indians witnessed this and their chief cursed the location and the gold as well. The Blackfoot Indians were blamed for the murder. Several people would claim to have found the gold in later years but they all died in questionable circumstances thus fueling the belief that the curse was indeed real.
In the modern era, a technician from Alberta University said that he had found Lemon’s gold in 1988. However, after inspection, the find seemed too insignificant to be what Lemon and Blackjack had found all those year ago.
Today, there is no large scale gold mining operation in Alberta due to the extremely low concentrations found in the rivers. For this reason, large scale dredging operations were not done in Alberta, as the cost of production was not profitable.
Panning however can be done in many areas throughout Alberta with success, and is a great way to keeping recreational miners interested in this historical economic activity satisfied.
Armatures looking to get their hands on some gold mined from Alberta can still do so by getting all the necessary requirements for the activity. Getting set up for basic prospecting is easy; just get yourself a basic Gold Panning Kit and you’ve got everything you need to get started.
When panning for gold in Alberta, remember to get all the necessary permits to avoid any issues with law enforcement. It is also highly recommended that you observe all the regulation on prospecting, as different areas may have different rules.
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