Gold Occurrences in Michigan

Michigan is divided into two parts that have entirely different geology; Lower Michigan is covered by a thick layer of sedimentary rocks were the only gold and is to be found is placer gold. Just about any river or stream in the lower part of Michigan can carry placer gold as well as the beaches of the Great Lakes and other lakes found throughout the state.

A gold pan containing gravel.

Photo by Nate Cull

Upper Michigan is quite different from the other part of the state geologically, and is more in tune with the geology from further north in Canada as a part of the superior province of the Canadian Shield. Most of the placer gold that is found in Michigan had its origin in the Abitibi region of Canada that reaches from Wawa, Ontario to Val D’or, Qu├ębec. This is a green stone built that extends for more than 500 km across Canada does little are just gold producing areas on earth having produced since its discovery in 1909 more than 160,000,000 ounces of gold.

Although there is no lode gold in the lower part of the state that isn't true of Upper Michigan that is had several producing lode gold mines. Gold was also been produced as a byproduct from the vast copper mines in the Keweenaw Peninsula. The same mines also produced a considerable amount of native silver that many times was combined with native copper in a product that was known to be early miners as a “bicolor.”

Although gold panning can be done in just about any part of the state one of the better places to find gold is on the shores of Lake Superior where you can find gold in the beach sands. Most of the gold is found in the black sands of your sometimes exposed as stripes along the shore. Because of the way gold was brought into Michigan by the action of glaciers the probability of finding Gold along any of the Great Lakes shores should be considered.

There were a number of hard rock prospects and even some paying gold mines that were found in Marquette County in Lower Michigan. The most famous of these mines was the so-called "Ropes Gold Mine" that operated from 1881 until 1980 that only closed by an underground cave-in causeing so much damage that the mine could no longer be worked at a profit.

A gold prospector at work. 

Many of the prospects of both placer and lode gold deposits were scams. In many cases the property was salted with gold to make it look like a good investment to get money from suckers. There were other mines that operated that were bona-fide gold mines. You might not get rich mining gold in Michigan, but there is always a chance that you will.