EUREKA! - Rural Glenwood Resident Says He Found Gold While Panning In Creek

Richard Cotton said he discovered and collected flour gold flakes while panning in a Glenwood creek on Feb. 14.

A zoomed-in view of the particles Richard Cotton found Feb. 14.

Some of the tools and instruments in Richard Cotton’s gold-panning kit.

Richard Cotton was panning for gold in this rocky creek bed on Feb. 14.

Is there a great gold rush in Glenwood’s future?

A 70-year-old rural Glenwood resident says he found microscopic gold particles while panning last month in a creek near the baseball and softball fields at the Glenwood Recreation Complex.

Richard Cotton said he came across the “flour gold” flakes on Valentine’s Day near a waterfall that spills into the creek from a concrete railroad tunnel near Field 5 at the city-owned recreation complex.

“The water comes down out onto a concrete block and washes down. Where the concrete stops and the actual creek starts, it’s rocky and muddy,” Cotton said. “It was right down in that crevice. It was about 3 or 4 inches deep under rocks.”
Cotton collected his find with a gold panning kit he purchased online a couple years ago.

“I got down there and it was as cold as all get out,” he said. “I got three or four scoops in this one little spot. There’s a hand dredger in there (kit) that sucks it up from the bottom and you squirt it out. I did that about 10 times and said, ‘I’ve got to get out of here.’”

The particles are stored in a pill bottle-type container that came with the kit.

The weather was blustery on Valentine’s Day, making getting to and from the creek an adventure for Cotton.

“There’s a steep hill. I was wearing rubber boots because I knew I was going to get my feet wet,” he said. “I had my (gold panning) stuff with me. Somebody had tied a rubber hose on a branch up there that went all the way down to the creek.

I started going down and slipped. I slid all the way down to the bottom and almost broke my neck.”

Getting back up the hill, carrying his tools and equipment, after he was done panning proved to be an even greater challenge for Cotton.

“I couldn’t get back up the hill because my rubber boots were sliding on the ice and mud,” he said. “So, I had to take my rubber boots off and had to go in my socks. By the time I’d get to the top of the hill, I’d lose something and have to go all the way back down to get it.

“It was miserable. My feet and hands were so numb. If I was going to die, it was going to be that day.”

When Cotton got home, he showed the particles to his wife, “

“My wife looked at it and said, ‘My God, that’s gold!’”

All together, Cotton collected about 15 of the tiny flakes.

“If you took all that and melted it together into a little ball, it would be the size of a pinhead,” he said. “This is microscopic flake gold. It’s what they call flour gold. Back in the old days, they called it gold dust.”

Since purchasing the panning kit, Cotton said he’s done extensive online research on gold in Iowa and although he hasn’t had his find analyzed by geologists, he has no doubt that it’s flour gold that came with mineral and rock deposits from glaciers.

Stephen Hunt, director of the Mills County Historical Museum, said his research found there’s never been a recorded gold find in Mills County but the discovery of flour gold particles isn’t uncommon in Iowa.

“The geological people have said it can be found anywhere because of the glaciers coming down, receding, coming down and receding again,” Hunt said. “Most of the gold that’s been found is what they call flour gold, which is real fine. Most of this would have been found along a river area. It’s so fine. When you’re panning that stuff, you have to really be aware of what you’re doing because it’s so fine it can float with a lot of water.”

Cotton said he took up gold panning as a retirement hobby and plans to “hit other places” in Iowa and Nebraska where gold particles and flakes have been discovered over the years.

“There’s the Raccoon River two hours from here – Pandora or someplace like that. They find gold there,” he said. “You can Google where to find gold in Iowa. It will give you a dozen places that they found gold.

“I’m going to add to it (Glenwood find). Finding it made me pretty happy because it shows that my gold panning skills are pretty sharp. I was really happy that I found anything at all. Two of the flakes I couldn’t even get out of my pan because they were so small.”

The Opinion-Tribune

116 S Walnut St Glenwood, IA 51534-1665
P.O. Box 377, Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-527-3191
Phone: 712-623-2566
Fax: 712-527-3193

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