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Digging for Gold & Minerals in West Virginia

West Virginia is not a big gold state like its sister state, Virginia, which is located within the Carolina Slate Belt that produces most of the gold in the Southeast. This however, does not mean that you won’t find any gold in West Virginia. Traces of gold are found in several places throughout the state.

Gold was first discovered in West Virginia in 1886 near Parkersburg by miners from California. However it was soon found out that the rotten quartz veins didn’t carry nearly enough gold to warranty commercial mining. Although this gold find didn’t amount to much despite the excitement it brought, the story of the find is testimony to the possible occurrence of gold in West Virginia.

There is no commercial gold mining in West Virginia. This is because all the gold deposits found where not in large quantizes to warranty commercial mining.


The first gold discovery in West Virginia may have come from a conglomerate formed by the mountains to the east of Virginia. This brings about a new possibility of finding gold in non-traditional gold locations in parts of the United States.

Outside the U.S., gold is often found in conglomerate with the largest deposit being the Wits Basin gold deposit in South Africa. In North America the only such deposit is the Timmins in Ontario’s Abitibi Gold Province. West Virginia boosts of several conglomerate formations that could potentially contain fossilized placer gold deposits.

Gold is also found in greenstone belts found in eastern parts of West Virginia. Gemstones are usually the metamorphosed remains of the old oceanic crust and are considered to be the rocks from which gold deposited in nearby formations originated from. Most of these rocks are found Jefferson County in the eastern region of West Virginia and represent your best chance of finding gold in the state. Unlike most gold producing state, West Virginia does not have exposed igneous rocks and this means that it may be a bit difficult finding gold in the state.

Gold has also been found in several rivers and creeks within the state although the quantities of gold recorded are quite small for commercial mining. Even prospectors searching for small amounts of gold using gold pans and sluice boxes
will find it challenging to accumulate very much placer gold in West Virginia.

Gold is said to have been found in the south branch of the Potomac River and the Smoke Hole Canyon which are a good start for recreational gold prospecting. You can enjoy panning for gold in such rivers as it is fun and helps you explore the beautiful landscape of the state. The best way to do this is to join local prospecting clubs as such clubs keep the recorded for all the places gold has been found in the past and this may help make it easy for you when hunting for gold in the state. Clubs may also help you deal with property right issues as most lands in the state is private owned and you may be required to obtain a written permission by the land owner before you start prospecting for gold in a given area.

Also Read: Heavy Snow and Rain Help Gold Prospectors

And: Natural Gold Occurrences in Maryland

You should also consider focusing your attention to nearby states when prospecting for gold. This is particularly because the Carolina Slate that passes through North and South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia ends up there. This presents you with a great chance of finding gold as the belt is known to be rich in gold. Most land in this region is private and you should seek permission before venturing out.

Other than gold you may also consider prospecting for other valuable gemstones within the state. Gemstones found in the state include lavender sapphire and aquamarines that are found in sandstone deposits, and surrounding states have an abundance of different high quality gemstones that you can dig for in various locations.


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