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Mine Exploration: Randsburg, CA

Last updated on March 25th, 2021 at 04:16 pm

No Destinations: Prospecting for Gold

The Randsburg Mining District claims two prestigious titles: the largest gold mine and the largest gold nugget.

In this episode of what we’re calling No Destinations, we visit Randsburg, CA. We pack our metal detectors, gold pans, and a brand new GPAA membership to find our piece of California gold.  The membership grants us access to two claims in the heart of Rand Camp.

Using the metal detectors, we found handful of nails and tin. After cleaning up the road, we put the metal detectors back into the truck. Still on the quest for gold, we made the swap from nugget shooting to looking for flour.

Along the way, we found abandoned mines and explore the remnants of what was once known as Rand Camp.

Randsburg Mining District History

Randsburg is a town in Kern County where gold was first discovered in 1895. Shortly after, by 1899, the town had over 3500 residents, all driven by the promise of gold and the potential for social class mobility.

Once a camp that seemed to have come to life overnight, the population has since dwindled. In 2000, only 77 residents remained. 10 years later, that number shrank to 69. More recently however, in 2015, it was reported that the population had grown to over double. Randsburg now has 156 residents with the median age being just shy of 70-years-old.

The Mojave Nugget

Today, Randsburg still contains the largest gold mine in the county and claims the prestigious title of having produced the largest California nugget.

The Mojave Nugget was discovered in 1977 by a prospector by the name of Ty Paulsen using a metal detector. That nugget weighs in at a whopping 156 troy ounces, a variation of ounce that is heavier than the standard ounce used to weigh baking ingredients. The troy ounce, used to measure precious metal weight, comes in 31.1 grams versus its 28.35 gram standard counterpart.

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