Summer Gold Panning at Bridgeport

In January 1848, James Marshall discovered gold on the South Fork of the American River. June of that year, John Rose struck it lucky at would become known as Rose’s Bar, a mile south of Bridgeport.

Within a few short years, thousands of people would strike their claim along the banks of the Yuba. Though the allure of striking it rich was rarely a dream come true, hardworking people armed with only humble metal pans took gold from the banks of the river for decades.

The technique is simple; patience is key, and a consistent technique yields the best results. Swirl your pan, and let heavier material sink to the bottom, exposing the yellow gleam of gold. Roll up your sleeves and try your hand at finding some elusive gold of your own at Bridgeport!

Photo by Valerie Costa

You can attend a free Docent-led gold panning program at the troughs by the South Yuba River State Park Visitors’ Center. Guided demonstrations are held on weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day at South Yuba River State Park every Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 2 pm. Docents give step-by-step panning lessons, share stories about the history of our area, and describe other ways the precious metal was extracted during the California Gold Rush, such as hard rock mining and hydraulic mining. Gold panning is fun and educational for the entire family and kids get to keep the treasures they find in the troughs.

Due to the bridge renovation and construction work this summer, parking will be restricted to the parking lot north of the river. Please call (530) 432-2546 to check that gold panning will be available. Recreational gold panning is permitted within the Park, but remember ‘Hands & Pans only’.

Call the South Yuba River State Park for more information and private group reservations at (530) 432-2546.

Content and photo submitted by John Field