By RAYMOND THOMPSON
WHILE operating the Canadian Government ferry at Baptiste River Crossing, two hundred miles northwest of Edmonton, I had the misfortune to discover gold. It was what is called flecked-gold, fine and flaky and rarely exceeds a common pinhead in size. The most favorable signs seemed to be right to the river's edge, where with an ordinary gold pan I could get, colors almost every "wash."
Thinking my fortune as good as made I contrived this simple machine, or "grizzly" as they are termed by "sourdoughs" in this man's country. I secured the necessary boards from a discarded wagon-box. First I made the bottom, four feet long by two feet in width. To this I fastened the sides, supported by two cross bars six inches apart at either end, making an "endless" box four feet long, two feet wide and ten inches high. Next I fashioned my sieve by making two gable ends out of two-inch by two-inch pieces joined at the top like ordinary house rafters with the bottoms notched so as to set on the sides of the box. Between these two sets of rafters ran horizontal bars, two feet in length, made of half-inch iron with an intervening space of one inch. The idea of the bars was to act as a sieve. This arrangement was made separate from the box; hence it could be lifted off for convenience.
To operate this crude machine the only requisites, in my case at least, were a pick and shovel, an oblong piece of woolen blanket, two feet by four feet, a gold pan, a tub for washing the blanket, water, gravel and a mighty good breakfast.
The woolen blanket, preferably one with a good nap, was stretched tightly on the bottom of the box and secured there with cleats. Then the box was placed in the water near the shore at a sufficient depth for the current to wash the gravel off the blanket. The box was weighted down' by flat stones placed on the crossbars at either end, and the sieve placed in position Onto the sieve the gravel was shoveled. The bars turned aside all but the very small stones and gravel. If the depth of the water was about right the gravel would wash gradually off the blanket, leaving the gold and black sand clinging to it. In a short time, even through the water, one could see the larger flakes glistening on the blanket.
After this process had been carried on till the quantity of black sand on the blanket allowed no room for the gold to collect it was necessary to lift the machine and wash the blanket in a tub. The weight of the gold had held it to the blanket while the latter was in a horizontal position but the rinsing of the blanket effectively washed all but a small percentage of the gold into the tub. From the tub the black sand and gold was "panned" with the gold pan, which process eliminated most of the sand. The final process involved the collecting of the "wash" with quicksilver.
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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