An article in a local newspaper about prospecting for gold in Vermont tells about old time Bridgewater local Lawrence Curtis. He was a logger that learned to pan for gold fifty years ago and always kept a gold pan in his truck. People thought he had done pretty well over the years. But all Lawrence ever said was “its pretty elusive stuff, that gold–always trying to hide from you. And it does a pretty fair job of it.”
A 1928 report by Vermont state geologist George Perkins notes that gold was first discovered in the town of Bridgewater by Mathew Kennedy in 1851. Kennedy wasn’t looking for gold, as the story goes. He had recently returned from the California gold fields, and while fishing in Buffalo Brook, a glint in the streambed caught his eye. His find caused a mini gold rush in the area. Besides Buffalo Brook, gold was also found nearby in the Ottauquechee River near Bridgewater Corners.
Gold is found, as nuggets, or small flecks, in the gravel of streams, which originally comes from quartz veins. The gold is leached out by weather and stream erosion and carried on by flowing water. This is called “placer gold,” pure gold that is found in place and doesn’t have to be extracted from ore.
Because of gold’s high specific gravity and ability to withstand weathering and alteration, it concentrates in stream sediment. Once in a great while, nuggets of considerable size have been found. Gold is easy to see. It has the property of retaining its color under all circumstances. For some inexplicable reason, Vermont gold is purer than gold found in other parts of the U.S. It runs something on the order of 23 1/2 carats, which is roughly 96% pure.
At today’s gold prices it wouldn’t take much to provide a decent return for investing an afternoon of meandering at the wood’s edge alongside a nearby stream. Instructional videos, gold pans, or complete prospecting kits can be readily found on the web. Or, when visiting the October Country Inn, borrow one of our gold pans. Maybe it’ll be you lucky day.