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Introduction Mining Tour QTVR Vocabulary

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Of course, first the prospectors had to find something to mine. The prospectors looked for rocks they had seen associated with gold in other situations. In Virginia City, most of the prospectors were returning from the California gold rush, so they had in mind a particular type of rock that contained gold. The first discovery in the area was made by Abner Blackburn near the present site of Dayton in July 1849. Prospectors and placer miners followed the traces of gold up the canyons until in 1859, the Comstock Lode was discovered. Once the prospectors found a likely area and rock type, the prospectors would dig out some rock and pan it to see if they could see gold flecks staying behind in their gold pan. Panning is a quick and primitive way of assaying the rocks for gold based on the fact that gold is denser than rock, so the rock will be washed out with water and the gold will be left behind in the bottom of the pan.

Picture of the hill in the northwestern part of Virginia City showing small diggings that were prospects

This photograph points out some of the many prospects on a hill on the northwest side of Virginia City.

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