This is probably a modern version of Benjamin Marks' recent episode.
If you happen to go to one of the small towns on the West Coast of
the South Island of New Zealand, and ask any of the inmates if
they've seen gold, in a few minutes they will trot out a small glass
jar of gold dust and flakes, and/or a tobacco tin of small gold
nuggets. Well, almost any stream in Central Otago for instance,
contains gold, Very, very little, but some, and many of the West
Coast sea beaches contain extremely fine gold mixed with fine sand.
And if you are near Nelson, there is still gold in the Motueka river,
20 minutes drive from where I live. Not much gold; - you'd never get
a living from it now. (They did once) But there's still some.
A good mate of mine made a little dredge from an old petrol driven
fire pump, some capped plastic pipes for a pontoon, some plumber's
outcasts to make a venturi suction pump and some 2 1/2" inch hose.
Waist deep in the river, he pushed the intake pipe deep into the
river bed and close to the boulders and rocks. The output from the
pump went up into a narrow wooden chute with one inch strips of wood
about 4 inches apart across the floor making a riffle box. And at
the end where the water, rocks and gravel poured back into the river,
was a strip of carpet. At the end of the day, he'd pour the contents
of his chute into an old fashioned gold washing pan, wash the
contents in the time honoured fashion, and soak and shake the carpet
upside down in the pan of water, for this was now a Golden Carpet!
Finally after a day's work (for some reason he was immune to the
billions of sand flies that cause us mortals to beg for mercy) he'd
have enough good gold to make his wife or daughters a ring, pendant
or earrings. You see, the very finest gold got caught in the carpet
fibres, where the early settlers used - you guessed it - a bit of
sheep's fleece! There was very little gold flake and, not very
often, a tiny nugget, but the carpet caught what gold was there - but
never, alas, enough to colour it gold like Benjamin's ram. And
that's why old Owen became an amateur goldsmith and jeweller. --
Cheers for now, John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ