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Huge Sierra Water Run-off Triggers a New California Gold Rush



California gold panners are excited by the prospect of long hidden nuggets being exposed by the huge run-off from the Sierra snowpack. (Shutterstock)
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The huge snowmelt rushing out of the Sierra is scouring river channels and creek beds, moving boulders and stones, and exposing gold nuggets long buried in sediment.

That’s right. California is about to experience a new Gold Rush, reports Steve Large of CBS Sacramento.

Metal detector expert Mark Dayton told the television news reporter that more gold will be more easily available this year in California’s historic Gold Country.

“It’s the biggest event of my life,” said Dayton, who recently found $750 in nuggets in a few hours of work.

Dayton predicted that the best gold panning will be in June and July as river levels fall.

The First Gold Rush

James W. Marshall sparked California’s original Gold Rush when he found the precious metal at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma in 1848. Word of the discovery attracted about 350,000 “49ers”  to California — all with dreams of striking it rich one way or another.

The population explosion hastened California’s recognition as a state while also decimating the region’s Native American tribes.

Gold Panning in Fresno

Gold has long been extracted from waterways and lode mines in Fresno, Madera, Merced, Mariposa, Calaveras, and Tuolumne counties.

When Friant Dam was being built in the early 1940s, more than 350 pounds of gold — worth $200,000 at the time —was found in the quarry area that is now Lost Lake.

One of the best places for local recreationists to hunt is the San Joaquin River Gorge about five miles northwest of Auberry, according to

Gold Panning Rules

To learn more about the rules governing gold panning in California, click on this link.

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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