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Maryland Gold

This is about Maryland and DC gold and where it is found. There have been goldmines in the past and much ongoing mining and prospecting activity in both lode and placer deposits.

Historically there have been several active gold mines in Maryland that have produced both lode and placer gold. There is a gold belt running across the middle of the state where although there are no active mines presently there are plenty of people panning for gold. This panning activity takes place in several rivers and creeks including the Potomac River as far south as Georgetown.

Georgetown is located across the Potomac River from Washington, DC so we have to assume that gold can be found in our nation’s capitol. That is probably a novel idea since most of the gold diggers in Washington seem to be in the Capitol itself.

Before it was closed during WW II there was an active lode4 gold mine located at the Great Falls of the Potomac. All gold mining activity was banned by the government nationwide as it was felt the manpower to operate a mine would be better used in the war effort. It was originally planned to reopen the mine after the war was over it never did.

There is ongoing placer mining and prospecting in the center of the state reportedly with a great deal of success. This placer mining takes place on the rivers and creeks found in the area. This gold mining belt extends across the state ending in Baltimore; can’t you imagine panning for gold on the banks of the Susquehanna River right in one of the Baltimore city parks!

The gold in Maryland was originally discovered by an Irish Union soldier while on KP duty that was washing frying pans on the banks of the Potomac River. One of the ways to clean an army frying pan was to use sand as a cleaner. The soldier probably had filled the frying pan with sand and gravel from the river that he sloshed around to clean the pan and found gold in the bottom of the pan. It has been reported he was a member of a regiment from California. If that was the case he was already familiar with the process of how to pan for gold.

One of the precursors of gold is the presence of greenstone in the gold bearing belt thought by geologists familiar with gold deposits to be the source rock from which it is percolated by the action of hot groundwater. The first chromite produced in the United States came from these same greenstone belts. The hot gold bearing groundwater that has percolated through the greenstone removing its gold content also carries many other dissolved minerals. One of the principle minerals is silica that is deposited from the water at about the same temperature as gold. Gold and quartz ore found together in veins that is the most common form of lode gold.

The largest deposits of gold in the world are found in conglomerate (pudding stone) where the gold forms in tiny blebs that are often invisible to the naked eye. Finding a deposit of this sort is worked in large volumes producing lots of gold. Many of the professional gold hunters are now searching for these kinds of deposits. The largest deposit of this kind is found in the Witwatersrand in South Africa that produce more gold then anyplace in the world.

For more information about gold mining go here!

References:

Kuff, Karen, Cold in Maryland, 1987, http://www.mgs.md.gov/esic/brochures/gold.html

Prospecting for Gold near Washington, DC, http://www.infiltec.com/gold/

Witwatersrand Gold Rush, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witwatersrand_Gold_Rush

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