There's Gold In Them Thar Hills!

Where can gold be found in Indiana?

Gold is not a naturally occurring metal in Indiana, but is disseminated throughout glacial drift that was deposited by the glaciers that once covered much of the state. It had its origin in the bedrock deposits of Canada. Because the ice came from the northeast and did not extend much beyond an east-west line through Helmsburg and Beanblossom in Brown County, streams entering Beanblossom Creek from the north are more favorable panning localities than those flowing into it from the south. Although not plentiful, gold has been found in sufficient quantities mostly along streams in Morgan and Brown Counties, keeping interest in recovering the yellow metal alive for more than 135 years.

In some placer gold regions the point at which a stream changes from intermittent to perennial is considered to be an especially favorable site for prospecting, probably based on the concept that the winnowing takes place most effectively in the steeper part of the stream gradient, and that the heavy particles are most likely to drop out where the water is first pooled. These principles apply to all stream systems, though to varying degrees.

You should be aware that many of the small streams in Indiana have been dammed to impound artificial lakes, and wherever this has taken place, the regimen of the streams has been altered. Those portions above the lakes are still in their pre-impoundment situation, but the lakes act as catchment basins, and the down stream reaches of the valley floors are now starved of more recent sedimentation. This is an important concept because stream channel deposits are ephemeral, being partly carried away and partly renewed from season to season and year to year. Some of the gold bearing alluvium is the result of accumulations built up over periods of many years, some is formed in a single season or even by a single storm. Higher concentrations fo heavy minerals, including gold, result from recycling of materials through multiple stages of transport-deposition-erosion-transport-redeposition.

A map on which the sites of reported gold discoveries are plotted in sufficient detail and at such a scale that one could be sure of locations, is not known of. It would not be possible to construct such a map that would be useful, as many of the accounts are not specific enough to allow one to put a shovel into the ground with any degree of confidence that the location is accurate. Even an accurately located site that showed traces of gold some years ago, or even last year, may not yield gold today because the fine grained materials my have been washed entirely away by subsequent stream action. In fact, some accurately known former sites are now bare bedrock.

Are any permits needed for recreational gold panning?

Yes. A permit is required to pan gold in a state forest. Apply to each forest that you intend to pan in. The permit is valid for six months. A permit is not necessary on private property, but if it is not your own property make sure that you have the permission of landowners, or you will be trespassing. If you plan to go into business then you will need to apply for other permits.

Where the Gold is!!!

Obviously, the first step in prospecting is to go where the gold is. In the past, this was by trail and error. Lots of time was spent exploring creeks, canyons, mountains, and rivers. Hoping to find some good color. Luckily for the recreational prospector, the continential United States have been throughly mapped. There are also historical records for most mining activity of the past 100 to 150 years. Therefore the first place to start looking for gold is to find where gold has been found before. This can easily be done on-line and at your local library. If you live close to a college that teaches geology, mining engineering or metallurgical engineering, their library probably holds significant amounts of information. Doing your research at home will increase your likelihood of success in the field.

Indiana counties that have produced gold:

Brown, Carroll, Cass, Clark, Clinton, Dearborn, Franklin, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Knox, Montgomery, Morgan, Ohio, Owen, Pike, Warren, Monroe

Parke and Putnam counties along Sugar, Misquito, and Big Walnut Creeks.
Brown County - Good to excellent: Most all streams
Gatesville - Good place to learn, lots of fine gold
Morgan County - Most all streams
Morgan-Monroe State Forest - need permit - Morgan-Monroe SF:
call 1-765-342-4026 they will mail you a Gold Panning permit.
Their Email Address: MorganSF@dnr.state.in.us
Henry County - Yogi Bear Campground
Most Counties of central and northern Indiana - look for bedrock!
MANY tributaries of the Wabash!
White River in Muncie.
Knightstown IN.- Jelly Stone camp ground
East Fork of the Whitewater River from the north side of Brookville
Lake to just north of Brownsville, Indiana.

Gatesville on Salt Creek is a good starting point to learn the art of prospecting. The gold there is small flakes and fines. You will find lots of fine black sand there too, and if you are lucky, an arrowhead or two.

You can prospect here year round if wanted. Twice yearly the Southern Indiana Chapter of GPAA has 3 or 4 day outings there. Camping is available. Unbelievable amount of flour gold and a few small flakes of gold and garnets. No rules on equipment you can use, just try to refrain from digging into the bank and keep the area clean and free of trash.

Directions to Gatesville are as follows:

Go to Junction 135 & 46 in Nashville, Indiana and turn right at stoplight. Go 2 and 3/10 miles until you see a Shell Big-Foot gas station on left. Turn beside this station (Salt Creek Road) and go 6 and 1/2 miles to Gatesville store on the right, gold bearing stream is behind this store.

IMPORTANT: You should seek permission from the Indiana Department of Transportation or county highway department and from the Indiana State Police or local county sheriff's office to pan in road right-of-ways. Panning on private property requires permission from the land owner. Panning at state parks is strictly prohibited, but limited panning may be possible at some state or federally owned or managed properties if you have obtained permission or a permit. For information about panning in Hoosier National Forest, go to the Forest's web site, send an Email message, or call 812-275-5987. For information about panning at state forests or reservoirs, contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.