Georgia -- Dredging the Etowah River

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Georgia -- Dredging the Etowah River

Post by Admin on Mon Nov 30, 2015 10:14 am

Hey Gold Adventurers...

Several years back, when I used to live in middle Georgia, I owned a Keene 4 inch suction dredge with the big triple stage sluice box. I had the chance late one Fall to drive up to the Etowah River, near Dahlonega, camp and suction dredge for 2 days...

Well, I forget the exact date, but think it was in November. The nights were below freezing and tent camping was "fun" given the cold, dampness, wind.

A neighboring camper helped me disassemble my Keene dredge and carry it to the river and back, which made the event possible, as there was no easy access to back my trailer with/to the river. To say that water, in the shade all day, was COLD was a big understatement... Shocked

I could only dredge for about 3 hours each day, fighting that fast current, shivering cold in my thin wetsuit... Here's a few pics:






I worked hard, but in the end got way more lead in the form of .22 bullets, birdshot, fishing sinkers and such......and almost no gold. Bummer... Most of Georgia's millions upon millions of gold was hard rock mined underground, and placers with free gold are few and far between. This location was in a prime mining district of days of old, but I just didn't find it...

Regardless, I had a great "father/son" weekend memory driving, camping, roasting Smores on our wood fire...

Hope to see you get out soon, post a Trip Report & pics for all to enjoy...

Randy "C-17A" Smile
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Re: Georgia -- Dredging the Etowah River

Post by russau on Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:08 pm

Randy when I dredged the Etowah River back in 2003 at the "Dredge Earth First "Rally in Ball Ground Ga. the water was red with the unusual flooding for that time of year. But I was there for 2 weeks and had a lot of fun!we were on the Georgia Gold Prospectors Association claims. I never have gotten all the red stain off my ATV.

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Re: Georgia -- Dredging the Etowah River

Post by Admin on Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:27 pm

Russ,

My pictures sure don't show just how fast the current was flowing............because it's so "smooth" on top. It was a bear to fight and try and hold position and pull rocks out of my nozzle...

It was COLD water too for that little 3 Mil wetsuit I had at the time. I froze my butt off, ended up shaking & quaking until I had to quit.

Randy "C-17A" Smile
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Re: Georgia -- Dredging the Etowah River

Post by scorpiotoyou on Sun Dec 06, 2015 6:07 am

what size dredge were you using. looks to be a three inch.?
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Re: Georgia -- Dredging the Etowah River

Post by Admin on Sun Dec 06, 2015 8:46 am

Fred,

Well............actually it was my old, standard size Keene 4 incher with the 4 pontoons and big triple stage sluice box.

I picked it up there in Northern Georgia for $1,600 cash.  I eventually replaced the 4 inch suction hose and rebuilt the T-80 air pump.  I found a nice tilt trailer locally for about $450 and had a GREAT dredging setup!






I sold it before I retired from the Air Force and moved here to High Colorado in 2012.  

I now have a Keene 4 inch Ultra Mini dredge with air......like the one I think you had.  I have completely modified the sluice box for the fine, fine flood gold we have here on the Arkansas River...

I took out the factory everything....riffles, mats, screens.  Then extended the box, installed nothing but Vortex-type matting with a 1 foot section of Gold Hog UR mat under the flair.  I made a rock screen full length to keep all the rocks bigger than 1/2 inch tumbling out the back, off the matting.  Works GREAT!












Here's my dredge in action.  We ended up with 8.65 grams, including 1 nice picker, in 8 hours of nozzle time.....one cleanup every hour:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNFeeLqQrNE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d2Bwl6lhhM

Heavy pans there in Georgia...and good luck metal detecting!

Randy  "C-17A"  Smile


Last edited by Admin on Mon Dec 07, 2015 9:26 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Georgia -- Dredging the Etowah River

Post by russau on Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:35 am

And how is the Gold Hog /Vortex matting configuration doing for you? since I sold my 4 inch dredge I built the 2 inch light weight dredge as pictured on the old forum. I put in the GH matting in my flaired sluice and I have Vortex matting in the Crashbox sluice that I also built to go with this and I still haven't gotten it wet yet! Now with knee surgery looming Jan 5 Im hopeing that this comeing Summer to dip it in the Misery River or the Big Muddy!

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Re: Georgia -- Dredging the Etowah River

Post by Admin on Mon Dec 07, 2015 9:19 am

Russ,

Well...............totally reconfiguring my Keene ultra mini 4 incher's sluice box has worked out EXCEEDINGLY well...

Mod 1 was as described and shown above.  Added 2 feet, nothing but Vortex-type conveyor belt matting with 1 foot of GH UR mat under the flair.  This gave me 64 inches or 5.3 feet total length.  I run it for 1 hour clean up to keep the matting clean.  Works GREAT!  

So, after John & I running it on his claim 5 & 6 April.............and having GREAT success, I decided to do a Mod 2.

Mod 2 was to prep for John's return in late August and we'd dredge for about 10 days together on his claim...

I figured that if a 2 foot extension was good, a new 4 foot extension would be BETTER.  Wink   So, I got a new piece of aluminum sheet, had it bent, got an 8 foot section of Vortex matting, reworked the sluice box again...

Pics of the Monster "Long Tom" box I created are here:











O.K.  In theory bigger and longer is better...  BUT, in practice on the Ark I discovered the following:

1).  Where I normally ran about 3/4 throttle on my 6.5 HP engine to comfortably keep the rocks tumbling thru and out the back of the sluice box, here with the extra 2 feet I had to run FULL throttle to try and get enough water flow.  I discovered that even with a buddy tending the box, to keep the rocks from slowing down and piling up and trying to sink the dredge from the rear of the sluice box, the enormous amounts of heavy black sand in this gold bearing material would "crawl" so slowly towards the back I'd have to just let the dredge run, sucking nothing but water, to try and keep the matting open, clean.  This really slowed down moving material...

2).  After the first day's frustrations, I went home got all the "old" Mod 1 stuff and reconfigured the sluice back to Mod 1 status there on the Ark.  Guess what?  It went back to working perfectly!  So, I kept the Mod 1 configuration for the rest of the 8 days dredging ops.  Worked great!  Very Happy

3).  This year me, John & his buddy Bill worked his claim for about 9 dredge days.  I had a buddy from C. Springs, Ron, up for 3 days helping me.  We took turns on the nozzle, pitching rocks, tending the box and sharing the "fun".  These were Days 2, 3 & 4.  We got 8 grams those 3 days....so a 50/50 split of 4 grams each.  

Overall, for my 9 days I put in a total of 31.5 hours on the nozzle..........ended up with a total of 21.92 grams of fine flood gold.  The Chief earned 4 grams, so my personal total was 17.92 grams.

Here's a bunch of pics of our dredging "adventure" and my panned out gold take by day.  The pennies are numbered by day.  Then, a total by screened size at the end:

Here's me converting the 4 foot extension back to the first 2 foot extension:



An old miner's cabin on the claim:


Yours truly at end of day cleanup:


Me, Bill and John Gold Cubing our cons at end of day:


Pics of each day's dredge take from my dredge:












Here's a compilation video I posted on YouTube showing the 21.92 grams all combined on my scales:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReXXodN8mRQ

So, I'd call all that "hard fun" a big success!  Wink

Randy  "C-17A"  Smile
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