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
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
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
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.