es, gold can be found in Pennsylvania if you know where to look.
Remember: Always get permission and clean-up when you leave.
Hints on Gold Recovery in Glacier Drift Areas
Where To Find Gold
NORTHERN YORK COUNTY: In my experience, one of the most “profitable” gold regions is in northern York County. Using the municipalities of Dillsburg, Grantham, Wellsvile and Rossville, basically any stream within this rectangle will yield gold. Several of the streams include Stony Run, Fisher’s Run, Beaver Creek-North Branch and Wolf Run. This would also include Yellow Breeches Creek which would mark the northern boundary of this geographic area. The gold here is up to 0.50 inch in size. This area is located in the Gettysburg-Newark Section of the Piedmont. The gold is washing out of the diabase ( an intrusive igneous rock), which composes the higher elevations and rounded hills in the area (including Ski Roundtop, if you are a skier). Find yourself a geologic map of the area and search for any streams cutting through the diabase and get it a try!! Black sand (magnetite) is found associated here also and often, you can find andradite garnet mixed in the heavy minerals after panning.
SOUTHERN YORK COUNTY: Working south, the next area is located in southern York County, say in the vicinity of Glen Rock, Shrewsbury and Winterstown. This area is located both east and west of Exits 1 and 2 off of Interstate 83. Inspecting a geologic map, one would notice that metabasalts are found with the Wissahickon Formation metamorphic rocks within the Uplands Section of the Piedmont. As in diabase above, the metabasalts were originally volcanic lavas and now changed mineralogically due to at least several episodes of heat and pressure within the crust. In any case, again, consult a geologic map in the area and examine where streams cut through the metabasalts. The flakes are up to about 0.25 inch in size. Several of the streams in this area include, the East Branch of the Codorus Creek, Centerville Creek, Trout Run and Seaks Run. The East Branch of the Codorus Creek flows through Spring Valley County Park, east of Exit 2 of Interstate 83. Gold panning is not permitted within the park, except for the York County Parks’ annual “Gold Panning Seminar”, held the last Saturday of July from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm.
DELTA AREA: Located in the southeastern corner of York County is a small community known as Delta. This municipality is world-known for its historic slate resources, in fact, in 1850, the Peach Bottom slate was judged as the best slate in the world. Between 1847 and 1937, approximately 12 quarries operated on what is locally known as “Slate Ridge”, northeast and southwest of Delta. Today, most of these quarries are visible on the landscape, usually associated with large spoil piles of slate.
It is in some of these quarries where the slate (as bedrock) was lifted up, the sediment under the slate removed into the gold pan. Small flakes of gold were commonly found in this sand, thus making this locality the closest to finding gold “in situ”, other than as a placer deposit. The flakes here only reached a diameter of about 0.20 inch.
North of Delta, on the property of the Delta Fish and Game Club in a small northward flowing stream produces some gold similar in size to the slate quarries. Several other streams in the area that have potential are Scott Creek and several small northeast-flowing streams between Delta and the Susquehanna River near the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Plant.
About 3.5 miles west of Delta along the Mason Dixon Line at Constitution is a great collecting area for several minerals. The cultivated fields here have produced rutile crystals, some twinned and some measuring up to about 2 inches in length. Because local citizens would collect the rutile and sell the specimens to Dent-Supply of York, the rutile was nicknamed “money-stone.” Gold is associated with the rutile here, all coming out of the Peters Creek Formation in the Uplands Section of the Piedmont. A spring-fed spring is the origin of an un-named northeast-flowing stream at Constitution produces gold and rutile at Gross Road. Parts of Fishing Creek just east of here has also produced gold, with some rutile. Northwest of here and north of Fawn Grove, Bald Eagle Creek has produced not only gold flakes measuring up to 0.75 inch in size, but also nice crystals of garnet, kyanite and pyromorphite. Bald Eagle Creek is considered by me as one of the most interesting streams in York County.
QUESTIONABLE AREAS: Two areas of York County containing volcanic rocks but apparently no gold are found in the east-central and west-central regions. Accomac, located about 2 miles north of Wrightsville along the Susquehanna River, contains numerous exposures of metabasalt and metarhyolite, both volcanic rocks. The region is part of the Hellam Hills, a highlands area that runs from northeast of York to the Susquehanna River. Although the presence of volcanic rocks appears to be one of the common denominators in the occurrence of gold, no gold has been found here. The second locality is locally known as the Pigeon Hills, located between the York Airport near Thomasville, west of York to north of Hanover. The geology of the Pigeon Hills is almost identical to the Hellam Hills, but the metarhyolite is not present here. Several spring-fed seasonal streams have been panned, with no luck of finding gold. Recent studies of the volcanic rocks by Dr. Robert Smith, of the Pennsylvania Geologic Survey, might indicate that these rocks may be older than the metabasalts located in the Uplands Section described above from the Glen Rock area, this MAYBE explaining the difference why gold is not present here.
ADAMS COUNTY: With political borders not terminating the geology, one can trace these above-mentioned occurrences across to neighboring counties, if the geology is similar. For example, tracing the diabase exposures southward into Adams County in the Gettysburg-Newark Section of the Piedmont, one would notice that locations like Hunterstown, (north of Gettysburg) and along Route 15 south of York Springs would be good places to pan. Of course, the classic exposure of diabase in southern Pennsylvania is Devil’s Den, on the Gettysburg National Battlefield (although panning is not allowed here).
LANCASTER COUNTY: Into Lancaster County on the east side of the river, again, similar geology extends from several of the regions described above in York County. The Peach Bottom Slate and Peters Creek Formation both extend from the Susquehanna River eastward into Lancaster County for at least 8 miles. Slate was also removed from various quarries similar to that at Delta. Gold has also been recovered from Muddy Run Park, south of the Holtwood Dam and Normanwood Bridge.
Probably the best stream in the area to investigate is Peter’s Creek, located between Rt. 272 and the Susquehanna River, west of Quarryville. This stream flows through the Peter’s Creek Formation. Gold flakes up to 0.50 inch are somewhat common. Several small flakes of platinum have also been recovered from Peter’s Creek. Two areas that warrant investigation are the Gettysburg-Newark Section in the northern Lancaster County and the serpentinite area of extreme southern Lancaster County. The later area is better known for famous chromite localities and Cedar Hill quarry. Again, based on the finds of the Gettysburg-Newark Section in York County, the possibility certainly exists for gold in Lancaster County. Although very little serpentinite outcrops in York County, the small area that it does exist does contain a stream that might suggest the gold is originating from this rock. Thus, the “thumbs-up” for the serpentinite in Lancaster County.
As far as elsewhere in southeastern Pennsylvania, Jeri concentrates of York County geology and doesn’t have time to spend as an “gold panner” who travels to various regions. Again, similar geology does occur throughout the region and one can compare your geology with what is described here. It is known that the Cornwall Iron Mines in Lebanon County produced profitable gold while in operation prior to 1972. This mine is located in the Gettysburg-Newark Section of the Piedmont, associated with the diabase (similar to Dillsburg). A number of “Cornwall-type” deposits exist across southeastern Pennsylvania and would be a great place to investigate.