York Town Square

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Pan-demic, rather dredge-demic, gold fever strikes York County

Bryan Bennett looks demonstrates how to pan for gold in York County’s Conewago Township earlier this year. Modern-day prospectors are seeking a permit to dredge the Conewago Creek for gold. (See photo of dredge below.) Background posts: Conewago crossing near Manchester hot spot for years and Old York County Boy Scout camp still teaching lessons and Does Washington Township’s ‘The Pickets’ link with Civil War?.

York County sent forth a bunch of exuberant prospectors to seek California gold in 1849.
Well, their heirs are at work 150 years later, panning in Conewago Creek.
They’re finding some flakes and recently asked the state for approval to use a small dredge to uncover more… .

The Eastern Gold Prospectors Association is seeking state approval to use this dredge in the Conewago Creek to help them search for gold.

Receiving a permit is not a given considering the sediment the vacuum cleaner-like device could stir up.
Panners have been working the waters of Spring Valley County Park for years.
And the Conewago Creek has been attractive because it shares a “geological band” with a mine that produced gold outside Lebanon, an Eastern Gold Prospectors Association member said in a York Daily Record/Sunday News story.
What most Conewago Creek prospectors find are flakes of gold or a few grains of gold, another member said.
Here’s how the newspaper story (5/5/09) began:

After some heavy rain last fall, Sam Penkala panned for gold in the Conewago Creek and found $20 to $30 worth in an hour.
He found the precious metal in a circle of weeds in the middle of the creek. The higher waters had knocked some gold loose, and it got caught in the pile of weeds.
“You’re not going to get rich, but it’s not about that,” Penkala, of Hellam Township, said. “It’s about having fun with people who have the common interest I have.”
Penkala is a member of the South Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the Eastern Gold Prospectors Association, and he shares what he’s learned with other enthusiasts. The family-oriented, recreational club also cleans the property it leases in Conewago Township and hosts get-togethers.
Members use gold pans and sluice boxes to sift through the dirt to find gold, but they want to add another tool — a dredge that works like a vacuum cleaner — to help them find the buried treasure.
Gold is heavy and sinks through the black sand to the bedrock in the creek, said Ben Vaughan, president of the Eastern Gold Prospectors Association based in Virginia.
The dredge would suck the dirt off the bottom and filter it through a sluice box, which would catch the heavy metals and allow the lighter material to go back into the creek, he said.