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Gold Prospecting Topographical Maps

The quest for gold makes us research. But we have to know what we are looking at in order to fully understand its meaning. By using topo maps for gold prospecting research you can learn a lot with a little study. Topo maps have all kinds of names for various locations, Rich Gulch, Prospect Wash, Humbug, Bonanza Creek etc. These names can be a huge clue as to what happened in the area and are pretty obvious. Some names are not so obvious for many reasons, the time the places were named is one major factor.

Would you ever think a place called Nome Wash in Nevada had anything to do with gold? You might if you were familiar with Nome, Alaska. Do you know what an arrastre is? If you are new to prospecting you might not. Its a old timer, crude yet effective device to crush ore. How about Whim Trail? What's a whim? A whim was a device that used a vertical axle to move ores to the surface from underground diggings. Remember the old timers named things in ways differently than we might. As you take time and learn this information will get you one step closer to being the gold prospector you want to become. Take a look at the pictures below. The little 'x' and 'y' symbols show diggings and mean something. These can be easily be missed. The "y' indicates a cave or mine tunnel, the 'x' represents a prospect or shaft, the little square represents a prospect, shaft or some type of mining structure was there at one time.

There are several rules to note when viewing topographic maps:

The law of V's: sharp-pointed v usually are in stream valleys, with the drainage passing all the way through the point of the v, with the v pointing upstream. This is a result of erosion. The law of O's: closed loops are usually uphill on the inside and downhill on the outside, and the innermost loop is the highest area. If a loop instead represents a depression, some maps note this by short lines radiating from the inside of the loop, referred to as hachures. Spacing of contours: close contours designate a steep slope; remote contours a shallow slope. Two or more contour lines merging indicates a cliff. Of course, to conclude differences in elevation between two points, the contour interval, or distance in altitude between two contiguous contour lines, must be known, and this is specified at the bottom of the map. In nearly all cases, contour intervals are regular all through a map. Occasionally dashed contour lines are present; these signify half the noted contour interval.

Its not always what you see, its also what you know that opens your eyes even further. So next time you sit down with a map take some time to study it as it might just be the key to your next successful trip.