When some think of mining, they may envision hours of standing ankle-deep in murky water or hours spent combing caves underground. While this may still be prevalent at some sites in the southern United States, there are some mining options at area mines and quarries that can be far less arduous and more fun than what is anticipated.
Many mines are targeting tourists and visitors which involves a broad range of ages, skills, and preferences among patrons. For this reason, there are some other attractions at mines found that could have appeal for those visitors who are not relishing the prospect of exploring a cave or getting wet. “Sluicing” is a popular past-time found at most mines that are open to the public. This involves sitting along a flume, which carries water down a trough to screen and clean rocks from debris. Hand-held wood frames containing a mesh or screen allow for water to pass through, while stones, rocks, and gems are left behind. Sluicing is appropriate for all ages and distinctions, with it being the perfect venue to visit and talk with others and often is situated under some sort of overhead cover to protect participants from the sun or weather.
Typically, visitors purchase buckets of mining debris, which is the materials unearthed while the miners have excavated their caves or streams. Some businesses may tuck a rare find or two into each bucket, ensuring the purchaser of something worthy to take home although there is still the distinct potential to find a few undetected treasures. Visitors may want to consider some of the smaller stones, pebbles, or quartz, to take home along with bigger gems, to use for crafting projects, embellishments, or even as an ideal material to layer in bird baths, aquariums, or plant pots. Once the consumer has purchased the bucket of dirt, they are free to take home any materials within that bucket. For this reason, tucking a few plastic bags in your pocket before heading to area mines is likely a wise move.
Sluicing is a relaxing and laid-back activity without any time restraints. This makes it a perfect activity when children are in tow, as the costs can be kept to a minimum while still providing recreation for all. No tools or apparel is necessary, and typically there are some unique features at area mines to attract attention and engage visitors. Gift shops, exhibits, and artisans might be on-site, which may allow treasure hunters the chance to get their gems set in jewelry or accent item before leaving the establishment.
When a bit more of a challenge is desired, mines will offer various panning or screening for gold. This may take place under a covered area where excavated materials are brought to the visitor, or there may be spots that guests can explore untethered by others. The business will have tools or equipment on hand to provide as needed, and the prices may include such amenities. While these activities don’t necessarily guarantee finding treasures, there is a real authenticity to the process that many will find enjoyable. When planning to pan for gold, be sure to pack a lunch and a dry pair of socks!