It was gold fever that fuelled development in the West. Prospectors of every description would scour rivers and streams in search for pay dirt and a few good sized gold nuggets to make a living. Back in the late 1800’s it was the search for and discovery of gold that built towns, railways and opened up the western frontier for many.

What Is A Gold Nugget?

Gold Nuggets are Naturally Occurring Native Pieces of Gold.
Image Source: Wikimedia

A naturally occurring piece of native gold is a nugget. Rivers, streams and creeks generally push numbers of them together and these concentrations are usually found through placer mining. However, gold nuggets can also be found in locations where the veins or lodes that bear gold have deteriorated enough to reveal nuggets as a residual deposit. They can also be found in tailings of gold mining dredges.

There is no such thing as a pure 24 carat gold nugget but they do come close – usually 20 to 22K, which is 83 to 92-percent pure gold. Plus, geography plays a role in quality. For example, gold found in Australia is higher end at 23K where gold found in Alaska is far less. The colour of the gold nugget is also an indicator of quality with deeper orange/yellow colouring a sign of higher gold content.

How Big Is The Largest Gold Nugget Ever Found?

The Largest Gold Nugget Ever Found Weighed 72.02 Kilograms.
Image Source: Wikimedia

The world’s largest gold nugget is one named Welcome Stranger. It was found on February 5, 1869 by John Deason and Richard Oates in Moliagul, Victoria, Australia. It measured 24-inches by 12.2-inches and weighed 72.02-kilograms. It could not be accurately weighed as at the time no gold scale existed that could calculate the correct weight. As it turned out, the Welcome Stranger nugget had to be broken into three smaller pieces in order to record a weight. The pair who discovered it apparently earned 19,068 British Pounds for the nugget.

The second largest gold nugget discovered by miners was the Welcome Nugget which weighed 2,217 ounces/68.96 kilograms and was found by a team of 24 men who were mining in shafts in 1858. The discovery was made in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.

Has Anyone Found A Large Gold Nugget With A Metal Detector?

As it turns out, the largest gold nugget found with the use of a metal detecting device was found September 26, 1980. Kevin Hillier located the 875 troy ounce (27.21 kilogram) fine quality gold nugget near Kingower, Victoria, Australia. This nugget was named The Hand of Faith. It was sold to the Gold Nugget Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada for a price believed to be around 1-million dollars.

Gold Fever Continues To Exist

Gold is still mined today and keeps a strong foothold in the commodities market. Plus, with improvements in mining techniques and new technology, mines that were abandoned have taken on new life. Gold mining continues to fuel an economic boom wherever it takes place.