Panning for Gold in Maine: The Swift River

Swift River in MaineWhile there is gold to be found in California and Alaska, and many other states as well, did you know that MAINE is a great area to pan for gold?  The Swift River and its tributaries, near Byron (off of Route 17 between Rangeley and Rumford), is a popular gold panning area because large nuggets are often found there.  At the very least you’ll find flakes and small nuggets, and it all adds up; it’s all real gold.

The Swift River and its many feeder streams have produced more gold than all of the other (known) Maine gold regions combined.  And here is the really exciting thing about this area.  While gold still abounds here, no one has been able to locate the source of the gold, the “mother lode.”  Whoever finds it will become very wealthy!

According to Maine’s Department of Conservation Gold in Maine page, gold occurs in several geologic Swift River Tributary in Maineenvironments in Maine: in bedrock, in sediments that were eroded from bedrock by glaciers, and in stream deposits derived from either of these sources. Veins of gold in bedrock are called “lode” deposits, and “placer” deposits are concentrations of gold that accumulated in unconsolidated sediments. Most of the gold presently found in Maine comes from placer deposits in stream beds.

The Gold in Maine page also gives you the rules and regulations, and other useful information and resources, for gold panning.

While summer is the best time to pan, be forewarned that until the first part of August you will be at the mercy of particularly-vicious black flies.  Dress defensively.  Check out the “insect protective clothing” at  And remember that the water is going to be chilly, so bring appropriate footgear (for example, boots or even hip boots).

The Next Bend in the River bookI also recommend that you read the book The Next Bend In The River – Maine Mining Adventures ($12). It tells how and where to find gold in Maine. There are instructions regarding how to pan and sluice, tips on dredging and dowsing, and a list of the better streams and locations where gold can be traced.  Also, it tells about the mining boom and bust in the late eighteen hundreds, along with the colorful hoaxes and their flamboyant creators.

The Swift River (Byron) area is located in the Western Mountains & Lakes Region of Maine.  Click here for a free map of Maine (PDF file).


15 Comments on Panning for Gold in Maine: The Swift River

    [...] reading about the Swift River gold in Maine,  you’re probably ready to check out the gold panning locations nearest to you.  You might want [...]

  1. babar khanna
  2. i,afermaion

  3. Cheryl
  4. I love gold panning-actually any outdoor activity, one in water is even better. But I get frustrated because I feel I know so little about what the real item would look like, lots of very pretty stones though! I think today I actually have a few real Flakes?? I did this in Alaska and have some flkes from there, but it is even more exciting here, Coos Canyon is beautiful!!!

  5. Jack Duggins
  6. Anyone wanting to learn more about prospecting in Maine, or want to move to the next level -dredging- should contact me. mainegold@yahoo
    We have 2 dredges available along with plenty of pans, sluices, high-bankers and a few clean-up devices for you to work with and as always… questions are the best way to learn! Prospecting since 1978.

    GPAA Gold & Treasure Show will be October 16-17, 2010 at the Cumberland Fairgrounds, 197Blanchard Road, Cumberland, Maine. $5.00 per person.

  7. Mike
  8. When i was nine years old,my dad took myself,my two brothers,my sister,and my mom,up to swift river to pan for gold and to meet Carl Shilling.My dad had spent a summer on the swift when he was a teen,that’s how he met Carl.On the way to Carl’s camp my father said,boy;s when you meet Carl you be polite if Carl says something to you do what hs ask’s,he may not want us hear,then one of us kid’s said,dad you always told us to call before we went to a friend’s house,my father just laugh.when we got to Carls camp he was very nice to us we spent the whole day there.carl took us into his camp,i will never forget what it looked like,as you walk in on the right there where all kinds of polished rocks,it was like you were in a breeze way,Carl’s bed looked very comfortable there was a american flag hanging over his bed,he had a small table,cook stove,the camp it self was small very cozy.I heard that they burned the camp down after Carl died to see if there was hidden gold,that camp had a soul,wnen they burned the camp they took what was left of Carl Shilling.

    [...] river valley heading towards letter D and the big climb of the day. I did not stop to pan for gold, the views were enough for [...]

    We have been panning for gold on the Swift River at Coos Canyon for years. It is a great relaxing activity that anyone at any age can enjoy.

    My family and I have enjoyed snomobiling and four wheeling in these mountains so much that we have purchased a vacation cottage right in the village of Byron next door to the Scenic Coos Canyon.

    If you and your family enjoy panning for gold in the swift river and need a place to stay please visit my web page for for rental information to stay in our cottage by the river.


  9. Gentle Bear
  10. Jack still showing how to be in violation of LURC Rules? Join us at We would like to see new people get involved in prospecting the right way.. Its a great time in nature and the Gold is a bonus..

  11. mike martucci
  12. Hi. i am a soldier who is living in fairbanks alaska. i am medically retiring and moving to maine. i love panning and sluicing. i even plan to get a small dredge someday. can you recomend some areas i can possibly fond a home on a river or creek that i can pan without having to lug my equipment far. i am so excited. maine is such a beautiful state and i always remember meeting wonderful people. the thought of living there and being able to prospect is really exciting.

  13. fernando vazquez
  14. Im really interested in going out and finding gold,can u me at or ad me on face book at fernando vazquez,im really wanting to no about places here in maine ,ready asap,thank u and god bless

  15. Todd Burnham
  16. coos canon Great Place To look for Gold I Brought a friend tom taker he found gold with in 15 min of ariving in coos cannon The camp ground right there is a great place to camp and cheap Thanks Todd burnham limington maine

    I am a terminally ill man. Retired now for health reasons. Docs give me 4 more. I say I have longer. But the stats dont lie.


    Tam and I Love to pan, we have Never found more than a little dust, of very small flake.

    I cannot walk far and drag an O2 tank with me. We just want a spot we can sit alongside a river and she can pan some sand . I almost bought her a small 6 ft sluice this yr. But she told me it was useless. She wont use it after I am gone.

    Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a terminal disease. It has a 70% fatality rate when you get it. It has a 100 % fatality rate within 20 years. I am at er inside the 16th yr. My mind has debilitated and is now degressing.

    So We NEED a spot we can for sure find something… I want her last yrs with me to be more memorable than watching me die off. We have been married near 30 yrs. Yeah I am young. It had to happen to someone. That Mosquito got me instead of some child.

    We live in Sanford, Maine.

    Any suggestions? The less walking I have to do the best. Or she wont let us go.

    In need of a minor glorious spot


    Look for petemoss on the banks. break it up and pan the dirt trapped inside.. The flakes are small, but you,llget a hundred of em in a short time

    I’m gone to convey my little brother, that he should also pay a quick visit this weblog
    on regular basis to take updated from hottest news update.

    I have read several just right stuff here. Certaijnly
    value bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how
    a lot effort you set too make any such excellrnt informative website.

    Here iss mmy web blog: cash for gold salem nh

Tell me what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

      The charts below are updated frequently. Refresh your screen every 10-12 minutes to see the current gold and platinum prices.

      [Most Recent Quotes from] [Most Recent Quotes from]

    • Contact Sam Today!

      Gemologist Sam makes house calls or you can meet with him at his office. Either way, it's by appointment only!

      Call Sam at 727-804-7463.

      E-mail him at

      His office is located at: 5510 River Road, Suite #211; New Port Richey, FL 34652.

  • Categories

  • Testimonials

    Read testimonials, ask questions, and rave about Gemologist Sam on his Feedback page!