Tough Times? Go Gold Mining

Looking for intensive gold mining training? A company called Gold Prospecting Adventures and Store offers customized gold mining trips that can be reserved in advance. The basic experience is a three-hour sluice box panning course that costs $85, and offers budding prospectors the opportunity to filter through more dirt and gravel than someone could filter using just a gold pan.

Gold Prospecting Adventures will also take customers down the river and set up a gold panning operation for a more intense experience. The company also offers a three-day course for $595.

After their three-hour course, if customers decide they might want to make a career out of gold mining, proprietor Bryant Shock will even offer to "guide them to where they could file a mining claim."

49er Mining Supplies
11940 Yankee Hill Road, Columbia, Calif., 209-588-1635

49er Mining Supplies offers gold mining supplies and gold mining lessons. While the owner, Rob Goreham, explained that gold mining can be an exciting hobby, he also implored visitors to keep their day jobs.

Those looking to try gold prospecting can join Goreham and his crew for a gold sluicing and panning charter for $115. Charter participants work for about five hours, and cleanup takes about another hour. Determined visitors can also come along for the intensive all-day power equipment charter that costs $300 for one person and $100 for each extra participant.

Ironstone Vineyards
1894 Six Mile Road, Murphys, Calif., 209-728-1251

Finally, if the quest for gold is a bust, why not gawk at the gold that others have found in their more successful attempts?

At Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, travelers can visit the museum to see a display of what the winery calls the largest crystallized leaf gold nugget in the world. It weighs a whopping 44 pounds.

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