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Gold Panning

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     A brand new gold pan costs about $8. If you buy one and pan for a week, you might actually find enough gold to pay for it. On the other hand, a person could do a lot worse than spending an afternoon on the bank of a cold mountain stream panning for gold.
     In fact this is a hobby for many local residents of the Black Hills and it was, of course, the vocation of many of the first adventurers who came to the Black Hills. Unfortunately, like the old timers, some locals who pan may be less than helpful in giving you hints about where to pan. A few have even been know to steer strangers to places where they absolutely know that no gold can be found. We guess they figure they don't need the competition.
      If you just want the experience of panning for some gold, there's a lot of commercial attractions in the hills that will give you a shot at it for a small fee. In Keystone head for the Big Thunder Gold Mine. The nice thing about doing it this way is that you are almost certain to see a litle color.  Also it is a good way to hone your panning technique. You probably will find gold because, guess what, they've put some there.

      You can do some real panning at Wade's Gold Mill near Hill City. They actually bring in truckloads of real placer ore and sell it to you at $3 a bucket. Also there's a working placer mine in Rochford where the owner will let you pan for $20 a day and you get to keep everything you find. Then after a hard day of panning you can go to the Moonshine Gulch Saloon to ease you aching parts.
      Once you learn the technique, you can pan in almost any Black Hills stream where there's always hope of turning up a little speck of gold.  Don't expect to find a nugget however. Almost all naturally occuring gold in the Black Hills is in the form of dust or flakes.
      By the way, there are gold deposits within the boundaries of  Mt. Rushmore, Wind Cave and possibly Jewel Cave but not in the Badlands or Devil's Tower.  But the National Park Service won't let you pan in any of those places. 

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