Augusta Chapter of the GPAA

The Augusta Chapter was formed March 2001 and already has in excess of 60 members. It was really surprising to find out that there was a significant number of people that had interests in gold prospecting but, for one reason or another, had not been able to do anything about it.

We do not charge any club dues, but all members are expected to eventually become members of the national organization. There are gold bearing creeks in the Thomson/Lincolnton/McCormick area, and we conduct several club outings each year in the McCormick area.

We are a group of people from the Augusta area (and some not so close) who have come together to prospect for gold. We have a lot of equipment throughout the group, including the basic pans, sluice boxes, dredges, and highbankers. 

The town of McCormick is the site of the historic Dorn gold mine, which was a significant producer in the early 1850's and was worked as recently as the 1930's for manganese.  The mine site is now on the historic registry and is legally protected from further damage.  The fenced site is operated on behalf of the town of McCormick and is typically open for tours on selected Saturdays in the summer, during special events by the city, and for groups by appointment.  Panning for gold is available at a sheltered panning trough using crushed, gold-bearing rock.  Screening is also available for gemstones using small, colored gemstones from Dahlonega.

Several of our members are frequent visitors to Grave's Mountain, just outside of Lincolnton, searching for the famous rutile crystals, the iridescent hematite, pyrophyllite, and lazulite.  Expect to see a lot of the members on the two weekends each year when the mountain is open to the general public.

As a club, we assist at the Heritage Gold Mine Park during the annual McCormick gold festival as a way of declaring our presence to other interested individuals, landowners, and local businesses. In the past, we have set up a demonstration panning operation using dredge concentrates and local creek gravel, with which we could allow festival visitors the opportunity to pan natural materials (but we returned the gold to our inventory).  With the opening of the Heritage Gold Mine Park, and the use of local materials, the visitors now have the ability to buy gold ore and to keep what they find, they have an excellent opportunity to practice their panning skills, and they can get expert advice on how to pan.

The Augusta Chapter of the GPAA meets regularly the second Thursday of each month at 7:00 PM at the Dayspring Church at 4220 Frontage Rd, Augusta, GA 30909, right next to the Harley Davidson store near the I-20 Belair exit.  There are no dues, but all members are expected to eventually become members of the national Gold Prospectors Association of America.  We almost always have someone with gold they have found recently.

 

If you are new to gold prospecting and intend to join GPAA National, please note on your application that you are affiliated with the Augusta, Georgia Chapter.  They give the Chapter economic incentives for new members.  Similar incentives are given to the local chapter for renewing GPAA members, but they still have to be told about the affiliation at each renewal.

For new or potential members, please don't go out and buy expensive equipment until you have had an opportunity to get proficient with a pan and coarse gold in crushed rock, like the gold ore at Heritage Gold Mine Park.  At the Park, you will also have an opportunity to learn the panning techniques, how gold behaves in a pan, what real gold looks like, and what the typical gold imposters look like.  Then, try creek mud with plenty of clay (a significant challenge), and very small gold size (another significant challenge), then work with a club member using concentrates from a highbanker or a dredge (where you will be facing significant quantities of black sand, yet another major challenge).  If you are still anxious to become a prospector, get with the owners of some of the larger systems and talk to them about their likes and dislikes, or better yet, go with them to the creek for a hands-on test drive.  Many of our members are glad to have any excuse to go to the creek, especially when they have someone to go with them.

For buying new pans, be aware that the pan must be conditioned before it will work well.  What I do at the Park is to use a sanding sponge (with coarse and medium grits).  Use the finest grit first on all of the inside surfaces of the pan to remove the gloss.  Then use the coarsest grit to put lots of scratches on all of the inside surfaces.  When that is finished, fill the pan with water and let it sit outside in the sun for a day or two.  When the plastic no longer beads water like a freshly-waxed automobile, it is ready to use.  You can buy the same pan I use, from Home Depot (online only) with free shipping to the nearest store.  It is the black 10 inch pan with fine and coarse traps. 

 

 


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