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Entries Tagged ‘Douglas County Gold’

Gold Hunting With The Shop Vac

Written By Bill Hagan

Greetings fellow prospectors, I am Bill from South Douglas County in South West Oregon. I have been prospecting for the last 40+ years and have used just about every piece of prospecting equipment you can imagine.  Now that I am getting up in my years the days of the old pick and shovel are pretty much behind me.  Now I haven’t given up prospecting I just had to find a way to do the heavy work without all the manual labor.

Back in late 2007 or early 2008, I was reading an article about an Arizona prospector how used a gas powered vacuum to suck up material from cracks and off bed rock. It sounded interesting so I went looking for one.  They were out there but with a price tag of $400.00+ I needed to find a cheaper way to get my hands on one.  Then the thought struck me, I already had a generator, why not use an electric, industrial sized, wet/dry,  shop vac at a quarter the cost.

Here I am using my vac cleaning off some bed rock. The water in the hole is a bit of a nuisance but it does loosen the gold trapped in the mud atop the rock and in the cracks.

The location I do most of my prospecting now-a-days is loaded with shallow and exposed bed rock.  I tried using a regular wet/dry vacuum but the small diameter hose clogged far too quickly and I found myself moving a lot of smaller cobble. I graduated to an industrial sized vac with a 2 ½ inch hose and found that I could move three to four times as much material with far less clogging. A major problem, when working in wet material, is the wet material will begin to build up on the inside of the hose. This will soon reduce the suck power of the unit and eventually clog the hose. To remedy the problem one should occasionally suck some water through the hose to wash the restricting material through. The vac does work best in dry material.

The bed rock you see in this picture is under water when the river reaches flood stage. Note all the moss on the rock, the vac works very well on this also.

The material I collect with my vacuum is classified to ¼ inch and then run through my recirculating high banker or my Mountain Goat Trommel.  The vac is fun and easy to use plus it is quite effective, (see photo below).

The larger bottle contains smaller flakes, as seen in the pan, while the little bottle contains pickers.

Special Thanks to Bill Hagan for submitting this article to oregongold.net

Douglas County Oregon Gold

Douglas County has produced some nice gold in the past. The Myrtle Creek and Cow Creek areas are great producers.

Last Chance Creek

At the headwaters of Last Chance Creek, in township 32S range 4W section 34, is the location of the Puzzler Mine, which was a rich lode mine.

Quines Creek

On Quines Creek, in the W 1/2 of the NW 1/4 of section 1 township 33S range 5W, is the location of Quartzmill Mine. This was also a productive mine.


In the Glendale area along Cow Creek there was numerous old hydraulic placers. The gravel bars, bench and terrace gravels all contain placer gold. There were many area mines that were rather productive. The BLM has a section that is withdrawn from mineral entry that is open to recreational gold panners only.

Myrtle Creek

If you go east and northeast of Myrtle Creek, in the drainage basins of North and South Myrtle Creeks you will find some extensive placer ground. On Lee Creek and Buck Fork there was over 50,000 ounces of placer gold recovered. On Letitia Creek, a tributary of South Myrtle Creek, in the NW 1/4 section 20 township 29S range 3W is the Chieftrain and Continental Mines which recovered over 100,000 ounces of Oregon gold.

South Umpqua River

This river is great for fine particles of gold. Especially in the upper part of the river. Dredging usually produces match head sized nuggets, but usually you will find fine particles. Gold is on the bedrock  in the sand bars, especially in spots that have rust color around them.

South Umqua River with bedrock showing

South Umqua River with bedrock showing

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