Alaska Gold Mining - Metal detecting - Prospecting

Barry Clay had guests at his Ruby Alaska gold camps during the summer of 2007. Thanks to all who visited. Swift Creek Mine has returned to a totally commercial operation and we are no longer accepting guests.

For an Alaskan mining or metal detecting experience we suggest you contact one of the following:

Chicken Gold Camp

Crow Creek Mine

Gaines Creek

Hope Mining Co.

Moore Creek

Paradise Valley


    Contact Us  


Are there really gold nuggets in that mined out area?

Some people wonder how there could still be so many gold nuggets to be found in an area that has already been mined. Part of the answer is the mining method that will recover the most gold economically will exclude rocks larger than a certain size from going through the sluice box. As 99 percent of placer gold is in small pieces the sluice box is set up to capture the majority of those. If larger rocks are allowed to go into the sluice box they can clog the box or may create currents that will wash out the smaller pieces of gold. So the large rocks are screened out. The screen can't tell the difference between a large rock and a big gold nugget so they go out as well.

Sometimes gold will be found on a false bedrock layer of dense clay. Gold can stick to the clay and when its scooped up and fed into the hopper larger balls of clay will be screened out as if they were big rocks. Other light pieces of clay can simply roll through the sluice so they, along with any gold stuck to them, end up in the tailings.

A mining plant that uses a trommel (as is done at Swift Creek) will usually have holes not much larger than the size of a fifty cent piece. Any rocks or nuggets larger than that will be diverted around the sluice box and go to a waste pile or into the tailings. Where they will stay until you come along with your metal detector and dig them up.

Barry was very lucky in finding his 294 ounce nugget. He saw it as it rolled off the side of the blade of his dozer as he was moving dirt. If it had been put through the wash plant (trommel and sluice box) it would have ended in up buried in the tailings. No doubt there have been many other nuggets that went unseen and did end up in the tailings pile.

The other part of the answer is the way the gold bearing dirt and gravel were moved to the sluice box. Bulldozers and draglines moving gravel are going to loose a certain amount of it around the blade. As with Barry's big find, that rolled out to the side of the blade, nuggets can get away. Also mining methods such as the big floating bucket dredges, scrapers and hydraulic mining were simply not very efficient and left a lot of gold behind.

The Long/Poorman area is a region where large nuggets are found, as seen by the huge 294 ounce nugget that Barry discovered on Swift Creek or a 46 ounce nugget found at Long Creek plus the many other large nuggets that he and other miners have recovered (see more Swift Creek nuggets). Without a doubt there are still gold nuggets in the tailings piles waiting to be found. ~ Walt Larson

Click here to see a map of the placer gold deposits in the Long/Poorman area of the Ruby district.

The Nugget
Barry Clay
Photo Gallery
Ruby, Alaska
Big Alaska Nuggets
More Big Nuggets

Contact us

Site Map

Copyright © 2006 Alaska Big Nugget Adventures LLC