Walter A. Goetz a leading authority on gold mining in Maryland, enthralled the DCGIA Chapter membership with his extensive research, and personal adventures locating and verifying the “on site” remains of the gold mines once actively worked in our area.
Walter is a great reference for Maryland gold mines, with a large collection of books, memorabilia, photographs, vintage maps,
reference documents, copies of vintage newspaper articles, and personal interviews. Having started this research 30 years ago
Walter continues to update and expand this collection on Maryland gold mining history.
Many of us were surprised to know that within easy walking distance of the National Capital there are no less than a half-dozen gold mines, that were once in operation. Gold was discovered in southern Montgomery County during the Civil War and the first of many mines and prospects began operating around 1867.
The most successful, was the Maryland Mine whose remains are preserved today near the intersection of Falls Road and Mac Arthur Boulevard. Prospecting was an extensive industry along the banks of the Potomac, from a point near Georgetown up the river, past Great Falls, as far as Point of Rocks. Although no mining is currently underway in Maryland, individuals still seeking their fortunes in gold are likely to find it all along the Potomac River.
The ideal spot for panning is down slope from an old mine along the curve in the stream or river. The gold, freed from the rock by
weathering, washes downhill from the outcrop and settles to the bottom of the stream. Since gold is heavier than sand, it will remain on the bottom of the stream or river. A pan full of swirling water and sediment and can be used to easily separate the heavier gold.
There are still reports of gold being found in Maryland’s streams today!
MacArthur Boulevard, built near the Potomac River just before the Civil War, was later repaved with gold-bearing quartz rock
from the Maryland mining areas. This may well be what started the saying that American Roads were made of GOLD.
The DCGIA Chapter Thanks Walter for taking the time and sharing Gold Fever with Us!
Summary & Photos by Charlie Marts