31) Waterwheel And Gold Panning

Hands On History - Strike It Rich While Having Fun

Schools - Student Panning At Mogo
Schools - Boys Pan For Gold
31)  Waterwheel

During the day as the peacefulness and atmosphere of the Original Gold Rush Colony's lakes and the Mogo State Forest wash over visitors, the water wheel can be heard, quietly slapping away. Over the top one hears the excited squeals of delight of people panning for the elusive gold.

Part of the policy of the Original Gold Rush Colony is to ensure that the panning pond has sufficient mustard scattered through it each day to emulate the levels found in the creek beyond the dams. As a result of the careful techniques taught by experienced tour guides, fossikers are generally successful, and sometimes spend a large part of the day panning. Parents can sit and relax in the background, peacefully mesmerised by the wheel and their children's pleasure as the tour guide enchants them!

Alluvial gold in the Mogo area was discovered in the old waterways and drainage systems and formed the basis upon which the goldrush was founded. The most common methods of separating the gold from the silt, clay and light shale was to use a sluice or a cradle. The alluvial ore was shovelled into the top and the clay etc. dispersed using water. The last small separation was then achieved by panning.

When diggers collected gold that was too fine to pan, they would use a method called "tinning". This involved rubbing mercury into their pans; the mercury would then trap the gold. The digger would then place his pan in the fire to "melt" the resulting amalgam. He would then place the putty like amalgam into a hollowed out potato, wire the halves together and throw it in the fire. The spud would be cooked until it was black on the outside. At this point the mercury was absorbed by the potato, leaving the pure gold inside.

The waterwheel at the Original Gold Rush Colony is a replica of several wheels in the area that were used as power sources. In the timber industry they were used to power pit saws, as illustrated in the picture of the saw mill at Captains Flat in the 1890's, displayed in the Mogo Inn Shanty Pub.

Water wheels were used for powering equipment like ore crushers and grain mills and were a natural, environmentally friendly, alternative power source compared to engines like Betsy the Steam Engine.

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