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Is There Gold in West Virginia?

The History of Gold In West Virginia

History of gold mining in west virginia

In 1886 veteran gold miners from California set out to Parkersburg determined to answer the question is there gold in West Virginia, and while there was a buzz of euphoric excitement when quartz veins were discovered, analysis of them by prospectors indicated that the quartz veins did not hold enough gold to warrant any extensive commercial gold mining, though with the discovery in place, indicated to amateur prospectors that there was always a chance to find in some small quantity gold In West Virginia.

This was a sentiment much shared by later miners in the year of 1927 who once again asked the question is there gold in West Virginia and found quartz veins in Tucker County in a place known as the Sissaboo Hollow only to find there hopes of any commercial activity once again thwarted due to less than impressive quantities found within the quartz.

Key Points

  • Gold was first discovered in West Virginia in 1886
  • Later gold was discovered in 1927 in Sissaboo Hollow
  • West Virginia has no commercial gold mining
  • Recreational gold panning is popular along the Potomac River & Jefferson County
  • Gemstones are known to occasionally contain trace elements of gold
  • Trace elements of gold have been found along the Ohio River in sand

Is There Gold in West Virginia?

Unlike its sister state Virginia which produces most of the gold in the southeast due to its proximity to the Carolina Slate Belt, West Virginia is not known as a gold state, at least not in a commercial capacity though as history shows this does not mean one cant find traces of the precious metal hidden throughout it.

While the general consensus when asked is there gold in West Virginia is no, this is proven not to be true time and time again by amateur prospectors and miners who often enjoy recreational panning along the creeks throughout the state, while usually only procuring little more than placer gold even with the assistance of gold pans and sluice boxes, it does go to show that Virginia’s subtle sister, does still have some secrets to discover for those patient enough to look.

Recreational Gold Panning Locations

Gauley River in West Virginia

For those interested in recreational gold panning some of the most popular spots are along the southern branch of the Potomac River  which can be explored alone or as part of a Prospecting Club or Association such as the Gold Prospectors Association on America, or for those based out of Nitro, The West Virginia Gold Seekers, all of whom regularly conduct events at the most popular of the sites which generally have everything you need for a fun weekend adventure in the wilderness such as camping grounds for RV’s & Tents, as well as basic bathroom and shower amenities.

Those seeking to find out if there is gold In West Virginia may also want to consider heading over to the greenstone belts around Jefferson County to do some prospecting as the region boasts a wide arrange of gemstones that at times are known to contain gold traces, among other precious finds such as highly sought after gem stones such as lavender sapphire and aquamarines that can be found in the sandstone deposits there.

The Secrets of Gemstones

Gemstones are interesting because they are formed out of the metamorphized rock of old ocean crust as such often contain trace elements of gold due to the formation process which usually also creates that of gold deposits, one may not always find placer gold or flakes, but from time to time they can be discovered and finding these gemstones whilst trying to find gold in West Virginia is at least a nice keep sake for a day’s adventure.

Always remember though while West Virginias serpentine rivers, creeks and spans rugged mountains offer great fun and adventure for the amateur gold prospector, its important to keep in mind that much of the forested land is owned by many of the states energy and timber corporations, so always make sure if you wish to access these lands you gain prior written permission, or alternatively you can chose to explore the national parks, such as Monongahela National Forest which is open to the public and does allow recreational gold panning.

The Thrill of The Chase

Grist Mill in West Virginia

If you are an amateur gold prospector who has ever contemplated is there gold in West Virginia, don’t let the consensus or lack of commercial mining in the state dissuade you from your search, true it is probably not the best place to search if you are looking to invoke the spirit of the age of the American Gold Rush and seek your fortunes, but there are countless tales online of amateur prospectors finding their own slice of fortune.

Once such tale, posted on a public internet gold prospecting forum in 2012 tells a story of a man and his friend who ventured deep into the usual hunting season areas of West Virginia to do some prospecting, far off the beaten track where those would normally go, they were not out to make a profit, but rather defy the odds, and after finding a select location along a creek down a very deep slope in a remote location, were able to find and procure, gold flakes and traces, even going on to speak about how they would return to such a site to conduct gravity dredging, before mysteriously, never posting again…

Other rumors also service around the internet in prospecting circles about trace amounts being discovered along the Elk River as well as in the Greenbrier River, in select locations, so is there gold in West Virginia? Oh yes, most certainly, but the secrets of Virginia’s sister are only to be found by those with a spirit of adventure, patience and persistence.

Gold on the Ohio River

Many will say, finding gold along the Ohio River in West Virginia is nothing more of a fools errand, and at times, this is true, however it is not true that gold can’t be found along the river at all, because as the river itself runs along the border of West Virginia and Ohio most of the water tributaries that flow into the Ohio river downstream from Pennsylvania contain gold deposits, of which flake material that migrate downstream, often accumulating in sand banks in Western Virginia along the Ohio River.

Such was the experience of one amateur gold prospector from Western Virginia who in August of 2010 dared to ask the question is there gold in West Virginia and set down to the riverbank not to far from his house along the Ohio River, what he saw was some strange black sand along the bank, with nothing more than a shovel and bucket he dug the sand, and upon returning to his home panned it, dismissing the gravel, interesting quartz, he also found, trace elements of gold, gold flakes, right along the heart of the Ohio River in West Virginia.

The Allure of Western Virginia Gold

Summersville Lake in West Virginia

While it is hard to find, and almost always in trace amounts, flake, place gold or otherwise, this has never stopped or discouraged those for seeking out gold from the vast lands of Western Virginia, be it small quartz deposits, or simply gold flakes washed through creeks, to anyone who has ever wondered is there gold is West Virginia, there certainly is, and while the small trace amounts discovered, may not make one rich beyond their wildest dreams, it is a satisfying endeavor to obtain it, not only can one enjoy some time with nature, re-connect with the past, but appreciate there is far much more to those gold flakes and trace amounts than meets the eye, the spirit of adventure, the spirit of fortune, and who knows? What other secret mysteries does Western Virginia hold, deep within her remote landscapes, just waiting for those brave enough to explore to discover.

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