Usually gold prospectors are trying to find that secret spot, the small creek hidden miles deep in the woods that is loaded with gold. What if the there was a rich area to prospect that was right under your feet? That is what you’ve got with culvert pipes.
Why Look for Gold in Culverts?
Obviously, the water that runs through culverts drains from the surrounding mountains. Thus, there is likely to be some material that has eroded from the hillside that will drain and enter the culvert.
What makes a culvert worth prospecting is the fact that they generally have a washboard texture, which act as natural barriers that will trap gold in the same way as a sluice box. You could think of it like a sluice box that has been setup permanently, and you can check it whenever you want.
Check out this fun video of prospectors hitting a culvert in Ohio. Even though this isn’t the richest state for gold prospecting, they still succeed in finding some nice gold.
How to Choose the Right Culvert
Culverts can be awesome man-made gold traps, but they aren’t all going to produce. Obviously, the material that is running through them needs to have gold in it. So you are going to have the best luck in the known gold-bearing areas.
You need to time it right. Even though the texture of a culvert will catch gold, very high water will blow out any gold that might have been trapped in the culvert. You will have the best luck if you hit them in the summer after the peak of the spring runoff is over.
Even later in the season you might find that most culverts are dry. These can still be productive since they were probably running with water at some time during the season.
As with any type of prospecting, you just have to keep searching and try different culverts until you find one that produces well. Not all area going to be created equal. Location is everything.
Once you find a good culvert that has some good color you will usually have good luck prospecting there year after year. You’ve located a nice gold-bearing drainage that will be worth checking again and again with your gold pan. These can also be good spots because other people overlook them. Often the are so small that most other prospectors drive right over them on their way to the river!