The Miners’ Ten Commandments

While we were in Stanton, AZ we went into the main office and saw a paper on the wall that stated “The Miners’ 10 Commandments”. Kinda funny. Now I have official guidance for my life as a gold miner. It appears I already broke the first commandment. Well, now that I read on, it seems I broke a few more commandments. Oops!


Thou shalt have no other claim than one.


Thou shalt not make unto thyself any false claim, nor any likeness to a mean man, by jumping one: for I, a miner, am a just one, and will visit the miners around about, and they will judge thee; and when they shall decide, thou shalt take thy pick, thy pan, thy shovel and thy blankets with all thou hast and shall depart seeking other good diggings, but thou shalt find none. Then when thou hast paid out all thy dust, worn out thy boots and garments so that there is nothing good about them but the pockets, and thy patience is like unto thy garments, then in sorrow shall thou return to find thy claim worked out, and yet thou hath no pile to hide in the ground, or in the old boot beneath thy bunk, or in buckskin or in bottle beneath thy cabin, and at last thou shalt hire thy body out to make thy board and save thy bacon.


Thou shalt not go prospecting before thy claim gives out. Neither shalt thou take thy money, nor thy gold dust, nor thy good name, to the gaming table in vain; for monte, twenty-one, roulette, faro, lansquenet and poker, will prove to thee that the more thou puttest down the less thou shalt take up; and when thou thinkest of thy wife and children, thou shalt not hold thyself guiltless—but insane.


Thou shalt not remember what thy friends do at home on the Sabbath day, lest the remembrance may not compare favorably with what thou doest here. Six days thou mayst dig or pick; but the other day is Sunday; yet thou washest all thy dirty shirts, darnest all thy stockings, tap thy boots, mend thy clothing, chop the whole week’s firewood, make up and bake thy bread, and boil thy pork and beans, that thou wait not when thou returnest from thy long-tom weary. For in six days’ labor only though canst do it in six months; and though, and thy morals and thy conscience, be none the better for it; but reproach thee, shouldst thou ever return with thy worn-out body to thy mother’s fireside.


Though shalt not think more of all thy gold, and how thou canst make it fastest, than how thou will enjoy it after thou hast ridden rough-shod over thy good old parents’ precepts and examples, that thou mayest have nothing to reproach thee, when left ALONE in the land where thy father’s blessing and thy mother’s love hath sent thee.


Thou shalt not kill; neither thy body by working in the rain, even though thou shalt make enough to buy physic and attendance with; nor thy neighbor’s body in a duel, or in anger, for by “keeping cool,” thou canst save his life and thy conscience. Neither shalt thou destroy thyself by getting “tight,” nor “stewed,” nor “high,” nor “corned,” nor “half- seas over,” nor “three sheets in the wind,” by drinking smoothing down—”brandy slings,” “gin cocktails,” “whiskey punches,” “rum toddies,” nor “egg-noggs.” Neither shalt thou suck “mint juleps,” nor “sherry- cobblers,” through a straw, nor gurgle from a bottle the “raw material,” nor take “it straight” from a decanter; for, while thou art swallowing down thy purse, and the coat from off thy back thou art burning the coat from off thy stomach; and if thou couldst see the houses and lands, and gold dust, and home comforts already lying there—”a huge pile”—thou shouldst feel a choking in thy throat; and when to that thou addest thy crooked walkings thou wilt feel disgusted with thyself, and inquire “Is thy servant a dog that he doeth these things!” Verily, thou shalt say, “Farewell, old bottle, I will kiss thy gurgling lips no more; slings, cocktails, punches, smashes, cobblers, nogs, toddies, sangarees and juleps, forever farewell. Thy remembrance shames one; henceforth, I cut thy acquaintance, and headaches, tremblings, heart-burnings, blue devils, and all the unholy catalogue of evils that follow in thy train. My wife’s smiles and my children’s merry-hearted laugh, shall charm and reward me for having the manly firmness and courage to say NO. I wish thee an eternal farewell.”


Thou shalt not grow discouraged, nor think of going home before thou hast made thy “pile,” because thou hast not “struck a lead,” nor found a “rich crevice,” nor sunk a hole upon a “pocket,” lest in going home thou shalt leave four dollars a day, and going to work, ashamed, at fifty cents, and serve thee right; for thou knowest by staying here, thou mightst strike a lead and fifty dollars a day, and keep thy manly self respect, and then go home with enough to make thyself and others happy.


Thou shalt not steal a pick, or a shovel, or a pan from thy fellow-miner; nor take away his tools without his leave; nor borrow those he cannot spare; nor return them broken, nor trouble him to fetch them back again, nor talk with him while his water rent is running on, nor remove his stake to enlarge thy claim, nor undermine his bank in following a lead, nor pan out gold from his “riffle box,” nor wash the “tailings” from his sluice’s mouth. Neither shalt thou pick out specimens from the company’s pan to put them in thy mouth or pocket; nor cheat thy partner of his share; nor steal from thy cabin-mate his gold dust, to add to thine, for he will be sure to discover what thou hast done, and will straightaway call his fellow miners together, and if the law hinder them not, will hang thee, or give thy fifty lashes, or shave thy head and brand thee, like a horse thief, with “R” upon thy cheek, to be known and read of all men, Californians in particular.


Thou shalt not tell any false tales about “good diggings in the mountains,” to thy neighbor that thou mayest benefit a friend who had mules, and provisions, and tools and blankets he cannot sell,—lest in deceiving thy neighbor, when he returneth through the snow, with naught save his rifle, he present thee with the contents thereof, and like a dog, thou shalt fall down and die.


Thou shalt not commit unsuitable matrimony, nor covet “single blessedness;” nor forget absent maidens; nor neglect thy “first love;”—but thou shalt consider how faithfully and patiently she awaiteth thy return; yea and covereth each epistle that thou sendest with kisses of kindly welcome—until she hath thyself. Neither shalt thou cove thy neighbor’s wife, nor trifle with the affections of his daughter; yet, if thy heart be free, and thou dost love and covet each other, thou shalt “pop the question” like a man.

A new Commandment give I unto thee—if thou has a wife and little ones, that thou lovest dearer than life,—that thou keep them continually before thee, to cheer and urge thee onward, until thou canst say, “I have enough—God bless them—I will return.” Then from thy much-loved home, with open arms shall thy come forth to welcome thee, with weeping tears of unutterable joy that thou art come; then in the fullness of thy heart’s gratitude, thou shalt kneel together before thy Heavenly Father, to thank him for thy safe return. AMEN—So mote it be.


James M. Hutchings (1818-1902)

Gold Prospecting Trip 8

Today we headed out to a gulch where we sampled areas along the bedrock cracks, under huge round boulders and down along the inside turns of a stream. We were surprised to see water because of how many other areas nearby have dwindled this part of the year. This particular gulch has very tall and steep mountainous sides and there are huge boulders and rounded bedrock. The ground consists of a thick sand that you can get stuck if you don’t have mud tires.

This place obviously gets a lot of flood water which means if there were gold in the bottom it could easily get washed away in a flood and pulverized into flour gold by the rest of the sand it lays in.

However, there could be gold that got stuck in the cracks as it fell down from the top of the mountain after a rain. But being that the sides are so steep, the gold could get washed down and fall out into the flood wash and out into the open.

We started out with a metal detector and found a lot of trash. Even found an old iron chisel spike that was used long ago to break apart rock.  It was very rusty, but surprisingly in good enough condition to be used again.

After prospecting this area we decided to head home and call it a day.

Gold Prospecting Trip 7

Here we are again in the beautiful Arizona desert. We decided to go back where we went last time and do some more dredging and also try to dig into some along the side walls of a riverbed where there used to be an ancient riverbed over our heads. That was long ago and now it has eroded away to where you can see an old layer of bedrock and thick layers of small stones embedded in the hard clay above it. We took our picks and dug away at the soil above the bed rock. It sure is difficult because the soil is compacted under so much pressure that its almost rock solid. We tried spraying it, but that did not help much either. Best way is to pick at it. I was digging out a big boulder and it came close to falling on my foot. Good thing I saw it coming.

One thing about the outdoors is that it can be dangerous if you are not alert and paying attention. Always be alert because the nearest hospital is far and cell service is usually nonexistent.

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We carry a large water tank on the trailer in case we need some recirculating water for the dredge or sluice. But today there appears to be enough water for dredging. So it looks like we won’t need it.

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Every time we go out we find gold. When we first started, someone said it would take us several trips until we started to find gold. Now I understand what he meant. It takes a while to understand how to identify a likely area where gold might be hiding. In general its pretty much everywhere. But there are always signs that help point you in the right direction. You have to know how to read the land. That is still a learning process for us, but each time we go out we get much better at knowing where to go.

Gold Prospecting Trip 6

Its March and the weather is cool and breezy most of the time. The sun is out and the view of the Arizona desert is absolutely incredible. I can walk around for hours with a metal detector in these conditions. But instead of metal detecting, I am going to be dredging a riverbed for my very first time!

We bought a new 3 inch Keene highbanker/dredge combo from our local reseller. I spent weeks of researching how to dredge streambeds, riverbeds and where to find gold. I watched videos, read books, talked to folks and joined some online forums. There is a lot of information to learn and I was eager for the experience. Once we got all the equipment we needed, it was hard to sit still and wait for the day when we could use it. Now that day has come!

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It’s a 12×48 sluice that has adjustable legs to keep it stable above the water line. Its aluminum structure makes it lightweight so two people (or one tough person) can easily move it around. The hopper is made of a thick durable plastic that will last a long time.

We needed a two stroke motor and pump and we chose a 5 HP Honda because of how well Honda’s reputation is. This motor starts right up with no hassles which I’ve read about before. Just make sure to keep good care of it. These Honda’s will last many years if maintained well. The pump is a special hardened steel made by Proline.

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The 3″ low pressure hose and the high pressure 1 1/2″ hose were a little shorter than I expected.  The folks we bought it from said it would be long enough and I agree, but I wish it were a little longer so I can travel more around the riverbed. The amount of water going through the high pressure hose can definitely knock a man down (or maybe a cow?). We also have a 50 foot high pressure roll-up hose with an attachable fireman nozzle so I can spray Josh some dirt.

I was watching a YouTube video about a nozzle called the Hydroforce 350 and it looked useful enough that we could apply it to several other dredging trips we have planned. You can see me holding it in the picture. The amount of water that is forced into the nozzle is so strong it will hurt your hand if you try to block the opening. Its also hard to believe that I had this engine on idle the entire day. The amount of water that the pump pushes is incredible.

All the material goes through a classifier in the hopper and discards the big rocks on the backside. This way only the smaller material goes into the sluice. Never forget to metal detect your trailing piles. You might find a big nugget or gold attached to a rock.

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The nozzle was sucking up everything so fast that all was left were bigger rocks that could not fit in the nozzle. I quickly inspected almost every rock before I threw it out of my way. I went underneath and around each rock and also went deep down into more rock layers until I could not reach further. I used these rubber coated cotton gloves from Home Depot that worked great for handling slippery rocks and protected my hands from possible cuts. The brand name is called Grease Monkey. Its worth mentioning.

Sure was fun being down in the water in the middle of a desert.

Gold Prospecting Trip 5

Today we walked up the Hassayampa River for a little while. We saw lots of people out and about 4x4ing and playing horseshoes and other games in the middle of the river where its dry. We had a different course of action and that was to find the yellow metal gold.

We spent most of our time walking around and driving to places and looking at the geology and trying to figure out where placer gold would get trapped. It was more of a learning day rather than a pay day.

We will never lose hope finding gold. Our journey just began and we have a lot to learn before we can go out to find gold on a regular basis. Its not so much as how much gold we find, but more about the hunt and discovery. I know we won’t get rich at this, but ya never know. There are so many places to go and too much land to cover. I heard some folks who never went gold prospecting say all the gold has been got. Wrong. Most metal detectors only go down about two feet and only a small amount of ground has been worked. There is a huge abundance of gold left and mankind has only found 5% of it. It takes a long time to get the gold for us small miners because its a lot of work digging in the ground without heavy machinery. If it were not for our work schedule, we would be out here all the time during the week.

Gold Prospecting Trip 4

Today we went out to a couple location where we could walk around and look at the geology of the ground and the tailing piles and boulders. We have been researching where to find gold and now we need to actually be out there looking for it.

I bought a book and read it three times over. It costs only $20, but I would have gladly paid $100 for it because every paragraph is packed with so much useful information about where to find gold. I felt like I was almost an expert after reading it. Far from it actually, but eventually I will be able to go out and know where to look for gold. The book is entitled “Gold Mining in the 21st Century“. Its the big green book.

While we were waging war on the cactus and trying to metal detect at the same time, I had lost the battle when I forgot to look where I was walking for only a minute and got stuck by a thousand prickles of Cholla cactus that went right through my shoe. So much had accumulated around my ankles that I could barely see my shoes. I walked right through a patch of camouflaged Cholla just lying on the ground.

Good thing I brought two pairs of shoes. I put my other pair on and went back out metal detecting. Now that’s dedication folks!

Gold Prospecting Trip 3

My buddy Josh and I have registered a 40 acre claim at a secret place near Wickenburg, AZ.

Just recently, we went out to the property and walked around the entire place. It was a lot of ground to cover. We saw lots of quartz and mineralized rocks were spread out everywhere and black sand in certain spots. The soil is a brown-reddish color. This is supposed to be a good indicator in a gold bearing area. Not only that, but gold was previously found in this area. We walked around looking at all the geological features until we decided to setup camp and do some sampling.

Since we are new at gold prospecting, we don’t know where to start sampling on the property, so a stream bed looked like a good spot to start. There is an inside corner where we started to dig a hole.

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I’m using a new small recirculating sluice for the first time to see how well it does. I’ve never used one before, so this was very exciting for me.

We shoveled about five 5-gallon buckets of dirt through the sluice one small shovel at a time. My arm got a good workout that day.

I added a small amount of clay-be-gone and a drop of dish soap to the water to reduce the surface tension.I had to make sure there was an even steady flow of water in the sluice. All in all, it was pretty simple to operate after I got some suggestions from some folks that came by to see us.

Two hours later we ended up with some concentrate and panned it out. It produced a little bit of fine gold. We got about 1/10 gram from the cons.

I think if we got that much gold from only five 5-gallon buckets, then how much would we get if we dredged the area?

When we get more experience and a dredge, we will definitely make a trip to answer that question.

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Gold Prospecting Trip 2

Its a week later and we are going to the Vulture City Gold Mine. This time it’s nice and warm weather with clear sunny skies. Woot!

Once we arrived, the gate was open and the Vulture Mine adventure began. There is a self-guided tour that costs $7 per adult. The store sells all kinds of rocks and gemstones. After we gazed at all the cool rocks and stuff in the store we headed out on the tour.

The tour circles around various parts of the old mining operation. We started out and headed into a decrepit two-story house that looks like it about to fall apart, but its was still standing strong.

Lots of old stuff to see.

Looks like they had a laboratory in this house.

We also found a vault in the floor where they used to store gold bullion for safe keeping.

There is also the machine shop and power plant. You can get an idea of what life was like long ago when people struggled to get that yellow gold from the ground. There is still lots of gold left, but nowadays its said to be too expensive to justify the costs of digging it out.

There are a total of 12 patented claims that consists of about 240 acres of land. Its all for sale at 6.5 million dollars cash. (no joke). They also have several thousand acres of adjacent unpatented claims for sale.

Later, we walked next to a mine shaft in the ground where its told that some miners lost their life when it collapsed in on them. There is also a tree where some folks were hanged for theft or high-grading.

It was a good trip. We had fun and got to see a part of awesome history.

Later on we went out to Stanton for a tour of some land and got to see a mine shaft.

We ended the trip by doing some 4x4ing the Hassayampa River before heading back home.

Gold Prospecting Trip 1

This is our first time going out to to explore one of the richest gold mines ever.
Josh, Jenna (my sister) and I took a trip to the Vulture Mine in Wickenburg, Arizona. We read about the history of this place and decided to go take a look for ourselves.

Today is a drizzly day with large pockets of rain in some areas west and north of Phoenix. We hit some really bad rain driving halfway to Wickenburg and hoped that when we got to our destination the weather condition would improve. Wrong. It was wet and very cold. I bet that it could have snowed if it were just a few degrees cooler.

By the time we got halfway in the foothills it started to rain. We drove slowly till we arrived at the front gate with a Closed sign. I suppose we had expected it to be closed, so its not really that disappointing because we were too busy looking out the window in awe at the pure beauty of nature we just drove through. We got out and walked around for a bit looking at all the rocks on the ground and the hillsides. At this point, we knew we had discovered a hidden desire or common bond with nature that completely took our minds off the busy work week. This is it!

The trip was not a waste of time and we did not care if it was cold and rainy. We drove away cautiously aware of possible flash flooding. Once we made it to downtown Wickenburg, we ate lunch at a local restaurant. It was a really neat looking place inside, but probably won’t go back and eat there. That’s another story though.