The History of Gold Au in Vermont
Waterbury, VT: According to the vermont geological Survey, Reports of gold being found in Vermont are on record from as early as 1845, when State Geologist C.B. Adams, in the “First Annual Report on the Geology of Vermont,” reported a find in Somerset, Vermont.
The California gold rush, which began four years later, enticed many Vermonters to search for gold outside their home state. During the mid-1850s, most of these gold hunters returned home. In 1849, Captain Abial Slayton, a Vermonter, struck it rich at a California gold claim. Upon his return to Vermont in 1855, Slayton found gold in what was then Hull’s Brook, now Gold Brook, in Stowe. Although he set up a sluicing operation employing several people, it never compared to the financial gain realized from the California claim. A tribute to Captain Slayton’s efforts was made in 1887 at the Mount Mansfield Electric Railroad, when the last spike to be driven was coated with Slayton’s gold.
In 1854, a mine of “gold, silver, lead and copper” was opened at Bridgewater, Vermont (Jackson, 1854). Gold was said to have been found there as small irregular grains in quartz. Dr. C.T. Jackson noted in 1867 that the great Appalachian gold belt passed through Plymouth and Bridgewater.
By the 1900s, however, it was determined that while gold was present in the state, it did not occur in paying quantities. Gold-bearing rocks in Plymouth and Bridgewater were mined, but the cost of getting the metal was far greater than the metal was worth. Dr. G.H. Perkins, Vermont State Geologist in 1900, stated “. . . it is therefore useless to spend time and money in trying to find a fortune in gold mining in Vermont. Considerable money has been lost because it was invested in such mining, but I have yet to hear of much that was made in this way in this state. Occasionally a little ‘pay dirt’ has been found, but in a short time the promising mine has been left unworked.” The mine shafts from these mining efforts can still be observed in Bridgewater and Plymouth.
Placer deposits were identified in the Plymouth area about 1855. Gold in the stream beds and the hillside gravels was probably derived from the denudation of gold-bearing quartz veins nearby. Surprisingly, gold derived in this manner has some commercial value, even though the original vein rocks do not constitute workable ore (Perry, 1929).
In spite of indications that no one will get rich looking for gold in Vermont, gold hunters still abound in the state. Every summer people converge on the gold-bearing rivers and streams, seeking to recover “free gold” from stream gravels.