Panning for Gold Throughout the Centuries
Gold panning and the search for gold have inspired many conquerors, explorers, and entrepreneurs for thousands of years. The earliest civilizations at Mohenjo-Daro in India were already mining gold at Kolar 2500 years ago. The Kolar mines stayed in use for over 1500 years. Later in history, the Romans were to invade Great Britain and take over for four hundred years because they thought it might be a place full of gold.
It was probably during the exploration of the New World by the Spanish, English, French, and Americans that gold panning and the search for gold became legend and inspiration to anyone trying to make money rapidly. Coronado, the Spanish explorer heard a rumor about gold that was readily available in Quivira. He rode with his men all the way to Kansas to find it and then found out he was duped and that there was no gold after gold panning in local creeks came up empty. He was followed by several Spanish explorers over the next two hundred years, who after panning for gold and looking for it amongst the people of the plains, also gave up and returned from whence they came.
Gold panning next came into vogue in the American West when gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in California. Unbeknownst to the Spanish, who had lightly colonized the future states, California and Nevada were full of gold. They graciously left it for the Americans to discover and within months of the discovery, San Francisco had grown overnight into a graveyard of ships that had been abandoned by men seeking to make their fortune in the gold fields.
Most of those who were gold panning in California's interior during the gold rush soon left and went gold panning in other places throughout the area. This led to mining and gold panning discoveries in Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, and the rest of California.
Gold panning was being done extensively even as far South as San Diego, where promising fields dried up within several years, leaving prospectors to take up gold panning further South in Baja California. By this time, near the turn of the 20th century, Mexico was about to undergo a revolution. So although gold was discovered in the hills behind Primo Tapia in Baja, gold panning was halted as the revolution heated up and it hasn't been restarted since then.
Most people assume that through gold panning and other techniques that the majority of the gold mines were discovered during the Gold Rush or Wild West era. Not so. In actuality, although gold panning was going on for over 100 years in Nevada, it wasn't until 1961 that the Carlin Ridge was discovered. The Carlin Ridge has now accounted for almost 3 percent of all the gold ever mined in the history of the planet, making it much more lucrative than any gold panning operation ever was.
Today, you can go gold panning in many places. Alaska is one of the primary spots that prospectors go to do gold panning in the United States. California is still popular for gold panning, and gold panning throughout Utah and the mountain states continues unabated, although the return in terms of money is often times much lower than the cost to those who take it up as a hobby.