Finding Gold in Illinois

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The USGS says there is no nineable gold in Illinois, but they keep finding it. The same glaciers also contained diamonds, rubies and sapphires.

According to the USGS there is no minable gold found in Illinois although the same glaciers that left gold deposits northwards from the center of Ohio and Indiana also left enough for recreational gold mining in Illinois. According to the same source gold has not even been mined as a by-product of other mining operations for lead, fluorite or sand and gravel.

Some old reports of lode gold found in the state might be credible:

Some gold amounting to a small amount was reported from quartz geodes that were found while digging a shaft in the dolomite of Stephenson County in the Upper Mississippi Valley lead and zinc mining district. There were reports in the (Preoria Star-Journal, Aug. 6, 1975) stating that small amounts of gold were recovered from a shaft dug in Bald Knob a large hill in Union County.

The remaining reports of gold pertain to gold that had its origin in the Atibi Gold Belt of Ontario and Quebec brought southwards to Illinois by the glaciers in the past million years. These are all placer deposits with reports of occasional gold bearing boulders containing gold worth up to $25 per ton.

Placer gold has been reported from several localities in Illinois including:

1. the Sangamon River Valley in Macon County,

2. the Mississippi River Valley and a small tributary in Henderson County,

3. the Illinois River Valley in Fulton County,

4. the Spoon River Valley in Fulton County,

5. an outwash plain in McHenry County.

Although gold can be found in any part of northern Illinois including Chicago most of it is concentrated in the terminal moraines of the glaciers that are recognized by their hummocky appearance. The gold has been re-worked and concentrated in the rivers and streams of the area. The gold found here usually takes the part of a few flakes found randomly in the sand and gravel deposits.

When gold is found in this manner it requires processing a very large amount of material to be profitable. This is not a job the small operator is going to get rich at the most he can probably do is get enough placer gold to show people what it looks like. The operators of sand & gravel pits are in a different situation because they are moving around large amounts of materials every day. They could include a sluice box in their processing spread to concentrate gold from sand. If they are washing sand in their normal course of processing they could very easily place a gold trap in their spread.

Gold isn’t the only thing that rode on the glaciers coming down from Canada they also brought diamonds and possibly rubies and sapphires. These gems have been found as reported in “Canadian Diamonds,” a special report published during the summer of 2008 by the Northern Miner. Some of these diamond deposits are found in classical kimberlite deposits. Other occurrences are found in ancient gravel deposits that have solidified as conglomerate. The final source is alluvial diamonds brought down from Canada.

For more information about gold mining go here!

If you like to read about gems go here


Some of this material is from the author’s personal experience as a geologist working with building materials and panning for gold in several places around the US and Canada.

Gold and Diamond Possibilities in Illinois, J.E. Lamar, ISGS,

1 comment

William J. Felchner
Posted on Jul 29, 2010