Thursday, August 29, 2002

Dreamers brushing off mining pans

The Associated Press

        VERMILLION, Ohio - To the untrained eye, the glittering specks in the muddy Vermillion river are just reflected sunlight. But amateur gold prospectors know there are small treasures in the riverbanks.

        But people looking to get rich quick have a better chance of winning the state lottery than panning for gold there, said Michael Hansen, a senior geologist for the state.

        “People are not doing it for economic reasons,” Mr. Hansen told the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. “The incentive is the thrill of discovery.”

        Gold has been found in 14 Ohio counties, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. That fact has people hunched over mud and sand at rivers throughout the state.

        Bud Kaczor, an insurance agent from Fairview Park, was bitten by the gold bug 10 years ago after seeing a television special. That led to gold-seeking trips around Ohio and as far away as Alaska and Australia.

        He said he's found about six ounces of gold in Ohio's rivers, and 40 nuggets in Australia — not even enough to pay for the sluice boxes, dredges, shovels, gasoline and airline tickets that he used to get it.

        “People start out with the greed factor, thinking they are going to get rich, but mostly they just get a lot of exercise,” Mr. Kaczor said.

        Now Mr. Kaczor is claims director for the Buckeye chapter of the Gold Prospector's Association of America.

        The chapter will host the annual Ohio Gold Rush during Labor Day weekend on the Clear Fork River near Bellville.

        It's the only time during the year that part of the river is open to the public for gold panning. Last year 9,000 people tried their luck.


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