Gold Mining in Pennsylvania (2024)? All You Need to Know

Gold mining in Pennsylvania - facts.

Pennsylvania is known for iron and coal. But still, gold had been produced in significant parts at one mine. Read in the article about the history of gold mining in Pennsylvania, and other facts and figures about gold mining in PA.

Is there Gold in Pennsylvania?

Yes, there is gold in Pennsylvania, but it’s important to note that the quantities are generally quite small. Pennsylvania is not known for large, commercially viable gold deposits, but recreational prospectors can find small amounts of gold, primarily in the form of fine flakes:

  • Small amount of placer gold in Pennsylvania; its origins are gold rich rocks and other gravel that was pushed by glaciers down from Canadian’s hard rock gold deposits. Gold of this origin also occurs in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
  • Cornwall Iron Mine is the only mine in Pennsylvania that produced (as a byproduct) significant quantities of gold. However, the mine is defunct for more than 50 years.
  • Production reached 61,000 ounces of gold at the mine.
  • The US Geological Survey lists more 9 sites with gold deposits in Pennsylvania, most of them closed. These are in the counties Berks, Lebanon, Lancaster, Cumberland and Chester. Among them the Grace mine, the Cornwall mine and the Bylers mine. As a comparison, for California more than 24,000 sites with gold deposits are recorded.
Cornwall Iron Mine in Pennsylvania where gold was mined as a byproduct; hotograph from 1888.
Cornwall Iron Mine in Pennsylvania where gold was mined as a byproduct; hotograph from 1888.

Key Takeaways:

Fact Explanation
Remember Significant mining historically only at the Cornwall iron mine, with gold as a by product
Gold Deposits Yes
Discovery Year Not recorded
Discoverer Not recorded
Gold Mining Industry Not active
Major Gold Locations Placer gold in rivers and creeks of eastern Pennsylvania in York, Lancester and Chester county
Major Active Gold Mines No active gold mine in the state
Mining Companies No gold mining company in the state
Panning Locations In many streams possible, especially in eastern Pennsylvania.

Video of Oral history with former Cornwall miner:

Sources: USGS:, USGS

Where is Gold in Pennsylvania?

The eastern part of the state is covered with crystalline rocks producing potential gold lodes as well as placer gold. Gold weathers out of the crystalline rocks and is collected in the rivers and streams of eastern Pennsylvania:

  • York County: This area, particularly around the Susquehanna River, has been known for small-scale gold findings. The river’s sediment can occasionally contain fine flakes of gold.
  • Lancaster County: Similar to York County, Lancaster County, especially along the Susquehanna River, has a history of minor gold discoveries. Again, these are usually small flakes.
  • Chester County: Streams in Chester County have been known to contain small quantities of gold, particularly in the southern parts of the county.
  • Other Streams and Rivers: Small amounts of gold can potentially be found in many of the streams and rivers in southeastern Pennsylvania. Prospectors often explore these areas with pans and sluice boxes.

While there is gold found in Pennsylvania, and found in many locations, it’s not easy to separate it from the rest of the gravel and sand due to its small size.

Source: goldrushnuggets

Why is there not much Gold in Pennsylvania?

The scarcity of gold in Pennsylvania can be attributed to its geological history and composition. Here are the key reasons:

  1. Geological History: Pennsylvania’s geology is largely shaped by its position in the Appalachian region, which underwent different geological processes compared to areas where significant gold deposits are found. The formation of gold deposits often requires specific conditions related to volcanic activity and plate tectonics, which were not prominent in Pennsylvania’s geological past.
  2. Type of Rocks: The state is primarily composed of sedimentary rocks like sandstone, limestone, and shale. Gold deposits, on the other hand, are more commonly associated with igneous and metamorphic rocks, which are less prevalent in Pennsylvania. These types of rocks are more likely to contain the minerals and conditions necessary for gold formation.
  3. Lack of Gold-Bearing Minerals: The mineral composition of Pennsylvania does not favor gold deposits. The state has a rich variety of minerals, but they are predominantly types that do not contain gold.
  4. Glacial Activity: During the last Ice Age, glaciers covered northern parts of Pennsylvania. While glaciers can sometimes transport gold and deposit it as they melt, the specific paths and nature of glacial movement in Pennsylvania did not result in significant gold deposits being left behind.
  5. Regional Geology Compared to Gold-Rich Areas: Compared to areas in the western United States, like California or Nevada, where gold-rich deposits were formed due to specific volcanic and tectonic activities, Pennsylvania’s geology did not undergo similar processes that would lead to the formation of large gold deposits.

In summary, the lack of significant gold deposits in Pennsylvania is due to its specific geological history, the predominant types of rocks found there, and the absence of geological processes and conditions that typically lead to the formation of gold deposits.

Source: britannica

Check out the video about gold mining in Pennsylvania:

What is the History of Gold Mining in Pennsylvania?

The history of gold mining in Pennsylvania is characterized by small-scale operations and byproduct recovery from other mining activities. While the state is not widely recognized for gold mining, there have been instances of gold occurrences.

Who Discovered Gold in Pennsylvania?

The discovery of gold in Pennsylvania is not attributed to a specific individual or a well-documented event, unlike more famous gold rushes like those in California or Alaska. Gold in Pennsylvania was likely discovered by early settlers or Native Americans, but there are no prominent historical records or notable figures linked to its discovery.

Gold in Pennsylvania is found primarily as placer gold in stream beds and rivers, especially in the southeastern part of the state. The presence of gold in these areas would have been noticed over time, particularly during the 19th century when prospecting and mining activities increased across the United States.

When was the Gold Rush in Pennsylvania?

Unlike other states with significant gold discoveries that led to major gold rushes, Pennsylvania’s gold deposits were never large enough to trigger such events. Therefore, the discovery of gold in the state was a more gradual and less dramatic process, integrated into the broader history of mining in the region, which also included coal, iron, and other minerals.

When did the Gold Mining Industry Start in Pennsylvania?

The Cornwall Iron iron mine in Pennsylvania, Lebanon County, originally owned by the Cornwall Ore Banks Co. and later by Bethlehem Steel, produced mainly iron. But as byproducts also small amounts of copper, silver and gold. In total, more than 61,000 ounces of gold have been produced. The mine closed in 1973.

The largest nugget known to have been found in the state weighed over 11 ounces and was unearthed in 1938.

However, most of the gold found in Pennsylvania is small grains and tiny nuggets, making it more of a hobby than a way to strike it rich. The state does not have large-scale commercial gold mining companies, and the activity is limited to recreational panning and sluicing.

Source: Lebtown, USGS

How much Gold has been Mined in Pennsylvania?

The Cornwall iron mine, the only mine that produced substantial amount of gold, had a gold output of 37,459 ounces of gold until 1959 and in total more than 61,000 ounces.

What is the Current State of Gold Mining in Pennsylvania?

The current state of gold mining in Pennsylvania is primarily focused on recreational prospecting through activities such as panning and sluicing. Although the state is mostly known for its coal and iron deposits, there have been gold discoveries in Pennsylvania, mostly small grains and tiny nuggets.

What is the major gold mine in Pennsylvania?

There are no gold mines in Pennsylvania.

Source: MDO

What famous mines are currently closed?

The Cornwall iron mine that produced as a byproduct substancial amount of gold has been closed since 1973.

How many Gold Reserves are in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania is not known for large gold reserves. While there have been gold discoveries in Pennsylvania, the gold found is mostly small grains and tiny nuggets, and it’s not easy to separate it from the rest of the gravel and sand due to its small size.

What Companies Mine Gold in Pennsylvania?

There is currently no company mining for gold in Pennsylvania due to the low occurrence of this metal in this state.

Where are New Gold Mines Explored or Developed in Pennsylvania?

There is no record of large gold developments in Pennsylvania.

Source: globaldata

Is it Legal to Mine Gold in Pennsylvania?

Yes, it is legal to mine for gold in Pennsylvania, but there are specific regulations and guidelines that prospectors must follow:

  1. Land Ownership and Permission: Before prospecting for gold, it’s crucial to determine the ownership of the land. If the land is privately owned, you must obtain permission from the landowner. Prospecting on state lands may be allowed, but it’s important to check the specific rules for each area.
  2. Environmental Regulations: Prospecting activities must not harm the environment. This means taking care to not disrupt the natural flow of streams and rivers, avoiding harm to aquatic life, and ensuring that no pollution is caused by the prospecting activities.
  3. Equipment Restrictions: In some areas, there may be restrictions on the types of equipment that can be used. For instance, motorized or mechanical equipment might be prohibited in certain streams or rivers to protect the environment.
  4. Recreational vs. Commercial Mining: Most gold prospecting in Pennsylvania is recreational. Commercial mining operations would be subject to more stringent regulations and might require special permits or licenses.
  5. Understanding Local Laws: It’s important for prospectors to understand and comply with local and state laws related to mineral rights, water rights, and environmental protection.

It is always advisable to check with local authorities or relevant state departments for the most current information and regulations regarding gold mining in a specific area of Pennsylvania. Compliance with these rules ensures that prospecting is both legal and environmentally responsible.

Sources: goldprospectors

Where Can I Pan for Gold in Pennsylvania?

The state has a fairly decent-sized gold prospecting community, with several Gold Prospectors Association of America (GPAA) chapters in Pennsylvania, offering opportunities for outings and sharing of information among members

Check out the video about gold panning in Pennsylvania:

In Pennsylvania, there are several locations where you can pan for gold. Some of the recommended areas include:

  • the Susquehanna River and associated waterways, as well as Peter’s Creek. These locations have been known to yield small nuggets of platinum on rare occasions, making them desirable for prospecting.
  • York County, areas around Dillsburg, Grantham, Wellsville, and Rossville are suggested for gold panning, with most streams in this area producing at least small amounts of placer gold.
  • Bushkill Falls in the Pocono Mountains: This is a great spot for both gemstone and gold mining. It’s particularly family-friendly and offers an enjoyable experience at an affordable price​.

Remember that while some locations may be open to the public, others might have specific rules or be accessible only during certain seasons or days. It’s important to check local guidelines and respect environmental protection rules while engaging in gold panning activities.

Sources: rockseeker, scenicstates

Is there Gold in Other US States?

Check out gold production in neighboring states of Pennsylvania: Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGC), there are 11 states that mine gold and contribute towards the gold mining statistic: Nevada is responsible for the majority of gold output, around 72%, followed by Alaska (13%). 9 other contribute in sum to the remaining 15% of gold production: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah.