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North Dakota Gold Panning and Prospecting

North Dakota is perhaps one of the poorer states in the U.S. to find gold. There have never been any reports of any substantial gold discoveries in the state, although there are a few areas where very small amounts can be found.
There were some a few early reports of gold discoveries that caused much excitement, but these never really “panned out”, and the excitement was over as quickly as it started.

A few areas in North Dakota will still produce a bit of gold.

The first known discovery of placer gold in North Dakota was in 1887, when William Gay found a few specks of flour gold on the North Fork of the Grand River. This is within the Badlands of North Dakota in Bowman County.

There were some other reports of gold being found in Bowman County at Deep Creek. The concentrations were so limited that no substantive efforts were made to prospect the area.



Gold is contained within the cemented gravels on buttes and ridges above the Sheyenne River and Red River in Sheridan County. It is believed that these fine deposits are sources from the Black Hills in South Dakota, and the gravels were covered with glacial sediment during past ice ages. Natural erosion of the Sheyenne River has exposed them once again.

Another documented discovery of gold along the Sheyenne River was located on its northeastward direction in the county seat of Lisbon City in Ransom County.

All of the gold that is found in this area is very fine flour gold.

An interesting even occurred when the El Dorado Mining Company was formed near the start of the 20th century. They claimed up a substantial area east of Denbigh in McHenry County.

Also Read: Gold Mining in Montana

And: Prospecting for Gold in Minnesota

Whether this was a real effort to recover gold, or an attempt to dupe mining investors is not known for certain. The gold occurrences in this area certainly do not warrant the amount of attention that was given to it. There is little evidence of any mining here today.

There really isn’t a whole lot of information about gold occurrences in North Dakota. Since the gold found here is so limited in general, combined with the fact that very few people live in the state, it really has not gotten a whole lot of attention from gold prospectors. Considering that one of the richest gold strikes in the world occurred not far from here in the Black Hills of South Dakota, you would think that there would be more gold in North Dakota, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

U.S. Gold Map


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