Panning Gold: Swift River in Byron, Maine

Panning Gold: Swift River in Byron, Maine

As a child, my mom and dad would take us panning on the Swift River in Byron, Maine.  A couple weeks ago, we took our families back there and I was able to get a few clips of my dad working the pan. Yes, we found gold! (though just a little)

Panning is hard work and take some knowledge to read the river.  The idea of "gold prospecting" and the reality of it are two different things.  First, you need ot know how the read the river and know how to find ledge that hasn't been worked by everyone and their brothers (and sisters). Plus, it isn't like you can just toss some gravel in your pan and magically turn it into gold.

  1. You need to find what hasn't been worked by anything other than the stream to find some gravel that hasn't been messed with by the masses.
  2. Location is key.  Looking at the landscape, you need to be able to determine where the most glacial material was processed.  Round rocks can be a good indication that substantial material was processed where you are looking.
  3. Left, right, or center? - Where in the stream would the gold settler?  Think... gold is heavy (almost twice as heavy as lead)... it is going to take the shortest route to bottom that it can.

The Swift River is quite challenging.  It has been worked and reworked by people passing along whispers of where they found gold.  Those secrets aren't secrets once you tell someone.  Then, before long, loads of people have disturbed an area in the search of "hitting the big one."  It's a lottery that tends to do more damage to the earth that yield big results.

Ledge gets dumped into the stream by those that are careless with God's creation and leaves room for more river bank to get washed away.  This further distances where the gold actually is (or was) with where people think it is.  So, if you endeavor to give it a try, please give it some thought as well and be kind to the resources God has given.  You should also be careful to put the moss and growing things back in their places (to help preven the river from washing out even more of the river bank).

Watch this video to see how much work this is and see how little gold we found (and my dad can read the rivers quite well).

Now, don't take all of this to be pessimistic.  You can certainly find gold in the Swift River (and find it somewhat easily).  However, you should have realistic expectations to how much you will find.

Enjoy the video!

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