Has Gold Been Found in Illinois? | Can You Find Gold in Illinois Creeks?


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Has Gold Ever Been Found in Illinois?

The allure of gold has enchanted treasure seekers and gold miners throughout history. Whether you’re looking for an engaging adventure or you hope to increase your fortune, seeking gold can be a fun activity.

While gold isn’t known to exist in mineable deposits in Illinois, it is possible to find small amounts of gold in creeks in Illinois.

Can You Find Gold in Illinois Creeks?

Man showing two other people gold found in river with silver panning bowl
Image via Flickr by Chris Fithall

With luck and patience, you can find a small amount of gold in some Illinois creeks. You may also be able to find fossils and semi-precious stones in these creeks as well.

Gold does not occur in mineable deposits in the state of Illinois, but you can pan for gold recreationally in the hopes of finding placer gold. While panning Illinois creeks, you might discover trace deposits of gold that have been washed away from larger lode deposits.

Lode deposits are veins of ore embedded between layers of rock that you can mine. As these erode, heavy minerals like gold wash away and may travel downstream or into river beds. The gold often turns into black sand, which settles on the bottom of the creek bed. The presence of black sand is a good indicator that you’ve found a promising spot to pan for gold.

Panning for gold is particularly popular in the western part of Illinois. Some prime locations to explore include:

  • Sangamon River in Macon County.
  • Wabash River in Wabash County.
  • Embarrass River in Jasper County.
  • Illinois River in Fulton County.
  • Spoon River in Fulton County.
  • Vermilion River in Ford County.

You shouldn’t expect to find notable riches within creeks. Recreational prospectors in Illinois typically take on this venture for the pleasures of relaxing outside, enjoying the peaceful creek and river beds, and sharing their hobby with like-minded friends.

Are There Hidden Treasures in Illinois?

There are some reports of lost treasures that were last seen in Illinois. Locating gold coins, artifacts, and other kinds of treasure may be as likely as finding small amounts of placer gold in the state, so you should choose the adventure that best suits your interests. Using a metal detector could yield some intriguing finds.

You’ll find dozens of likely tales of lost treasure that you can pursue throughout the state. While some may seem like fabrications, there is evidence of some lucky treasure seekers making fantastic finds in the state. These encouraging anecdotes may give modern treasure hunters the inspiration they need to embark on their own adventures.

Treasure seekers often find silver dollars along the west bank of the Ohio River after the high waters recede in spring. Most people now believe that these come from the wreckage of a steamboat, which was supposedly carrying millions in silver when it went down, and the treasure continues to wash up year after year.

Treasure of a different kind was discovered on the Abbott Farm near Unionville, where a stash of counterfeit bills and engraved plates turned up. Two counterfeiters, Dr. Briggs and Benjamin Boyd, used this farm in the 1870s. Some believe that other caches of their currency and coins are still located on the farm today.

There are other tales of lost treasure throughout the state that could inspire many to seek gold in Illinois. Consider some of these interesting rumors:

  • Outlaws Levi and Hilary Farrington escaped an 1870 train robbery with $20,000 in gold, which was never found but may now be hidden near Farmington.
  • Azariah Sweetin buried his fortune around his Greene County property during the Civil War. However, he suffered an accident that damaged his memory, so the jars of gold coins have been missing to this day.
  • Henri de Tonti supposedly buried over $100,000 in gold near Starved Rock.
  • Stagecoach robbers purportedly hid around $200,000 in gold and silver near the village of Cave-In-Rock along the Ohio River. Some of the coins have washed up on the river banks.

Is There Gold in the Mississippi River?

You may find small flakes of gold while panning the Mississippi River, but this area is similar to the rest of the state, so significant finds are rare. Streams and tributaries are typically more appealing to those who are panning for gold. Most instances of gold in the Mississippi River are so small that you might miss them entirely.

A more thrilling source of gold in the Mississippi River might come from lost treasures in the area. There are many tales of gold and treasure buried along the banks of the river. These treasures occasionally wash up on the shores. Further treasures may be lurking in the depths of the river as well. For example, there are tales of a fur trader who dropped a gold-filled chest in the middle of the Mississippi River to protect his fortune from an impending Indian attack.

If you’re interested in looking for gold in or along the Mississippi River, a metal detector might be your best tool. Locating lost coins will yield a more significant payout than panning for gold in this area. Gold panning in the Mississippi is best reserved for those who enjoy the process more than the outcome.

What Should You Do If You Find Treasure?

If you’re lucky enough to uncover hidden gold in Illinois, you can convert it into cash by taking it to the right place. You can sell gold in many forms, including scrap gold, gold coins, and even broken jewelry. Any kind of precious metal you uncover in your treasure hunt can be valued and converted to cash to fuel your future adventures.

To truly qualify as hidden “treasure,” what you find must meet specific qualifications. It must be at least 300 years old, have a substantial gold or silver content, and have been intentionally hidden by the previous owner. However, your find doesn’t have to qualify as treasure to have value. When you take your gold to the right gold buyer, you can get what it’s worth regardless of the age and value.

Sell Your Gold in the Western Suburbs

If you have gold to sell, visit Americash Jewelry & Coin Buyer to convert your finds into usable funds. We can make your treasure-seeking ventures pay out. Contact us online, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Or, give us a call at 630-969-9600 to speak with an expert and schedule a gold appraisal today!

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