A man prospecting in central California hit pay dirt when his prospecting turned up a solid chunk of gold. Oscar Espinoza found a gold chunk the same size as a steak. It is reportedly worth $70,000.

Espinoza found the chunk of gold in Jamestown, CA, which is very near where we prospect in Pine Grove. Just an hour away from each other, we’re both located west of Stanislaus National Forest and northwest of Yosemite National Park. The entire region is subject to the same geological and environmental forces.

This area of central California boasts valleys carved during the Ice Age by glaciers. High cliff faces and steeply rising mountains are a big part of what make the Sierras and Yosemite so beautiful. They’re also what expose so much gold. As these cliffs erode over time, due to wind, rain, freezing, and snow melt, they expose the treasures hidden within them.

The steep cliffs also made central California particularly difficult terrain for gold miners to access during the Gold Rush era. Though there was a gold camp in Pine Grove, it suffered during the 1800s because it was so difficult to access our valley before the invention of the car and the construction of roads here. As productive as they were, these gold camps couldn’t sustain themselves when it was so difficult to deliver supplies to them through the unforgiving terrain. Unlike many parts of California where the Gold Rush sapped areas of their treasure, this leaves many of our areas unspoiled.

This is why Central California gold panning and mining still produces big surprises like Oscar Espinoza’s find. This is a big reason why we still mine in Pine Grove today, and why we welcome our visitors to pan for gold. Gold panning in Central California produces yields – many of our visitors have gone home with something extra in their pockets. We’ll even teach you the ins and outs of how to do it so that your whole family can enjoy the adventure together. And who knows? Maybe a relaxing weekend here today will pay for a college fund tomorrow.