A Stream

West of Allagash, Maine


Gold in Maine

Gold in Maine

Gold occurs in several geologic environments 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.


With the exception of areas administered by the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission (see below), gold panning activities in Maine do not require a permit as long as the following restrictions are adhered to:

  1. The activity is confined to sandy/gravelly/cobbly unvegetated stream beds, with no disturbance of stream banks.
  2. The activity is limited to the use of gold pans, sluices of less than 10 square feet, or suction dredges with a hose diameter of 4 inches or less.
  3. Permission from the landowner must be obtained. Why? First, it's a matter of common courtesy to the landowner. But also, trespassing on posted land in Maine can be a matter of civil law. The water in a stream is under the jurisdiction of the State; but the stream bottom and stream bank - as well as the access across land to the stream - is most likely private property (exceptions include public lots, state parks, etc.). If you cause any damage to that property, even if it is not posted, you may be subject to civil action brought by the landowner. You can avoid these problems by talking to the landowner ahead of time.



Much of northern and eastern Maine, including the unorganized townships, is under the jurisdiction of a State agency called the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC). The regulations for gold prospecting in these areas are somewhat more restrictive than in the rest of Maine, chiefly in regard to motorized recreational prospecting. Though rule changes have been proposed, this motorized activity currently requires a permit, and it is prohibited in certain streams. A packet of information including permit forms, list of restricted stream segments, and a map of lands under LURC jurisdiction can be obtained from:

Maine Land Use Regulation Commission
Department of Conservation
22 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0022
Phone: (207) 287-2631 or 1-800-452-8711


Information on gold localities and methods of prospecting may be found in the following books or obtained from other references in libraries and bookstores. There are no active gold mines in the state at the present time, but some old gold mines are listed in a two-volume series entitled "Maine Mines and Minerals", by Philip Morrill and William Hinckley, which may be available in Maine mineral shops or local libraries.

  • The Next Bend in the River (Gold Mining in Maine), by C. J. Stevens; John Wade - Publisher, P. O. Box 303, Phillips, ME 04966; 177 p. (1989).
  • Gold Fever - The Art of Panning and Sluicing, by L. DeLorenzo; Gem Guides Book Co., 315 Cloverleaf Dr., Suite F, Baldwin Park, CA 91706; 80 p. (1995).
  • Gold! Gold!, by J. F. Petralia; Sierra Outdoor Products Co., P. O. Box 2497, San Francisco, CA 94126-2497; 143 p. (1996).
  • Gold Panning is Easy, by R. Lagal; Ram Publishing Co., P. O. Box 38649, Dallas, TX 75238; 134 p. (1995).
  • Gold Mining in the 1990's, by D. McCracken; Keene Industries, 9330 Corbin Ave., Northridge, CA 91324; phone: 818-993-0411; 279 p. (1993).
  • Gold Prospectors Handbook, by J. Black; Gem Guides Book Co. (address given above); 176 p. (1996).
  • The Modern Goldseekers Manual, by T. Bryant; Bedrock Supply Ltd., 9435-63AVE, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6E 0G2; phone: 1-800-661-3988; 223 p. (1990)


  • Larry Bilodeau, 27 Gina St., Lewiston, ME 04240 Phone: (207) 784-0302
  • Perham's of West Paris, Route 26, West Paris, ME 04289 Phone: (207) 674-2341
  • Rosey and Jerry Perrier (guide service), HC 62, Box 48, Byron, ME 04275 Phone: (207) 364-3880
  • Winthrop Mineral Shop, Route 202, E. Winthrop, ME 04343 Phone: (207) 395-4488


Some streams from which gold has been reported are listed below, and there are probably many others that are less well known.

Swift River and its tributariesByron areaOxford, Franklin
Sandy RiverMadrid to New SharonFranklin
South Branch-Penobscot RiverSandy Bay; Bald Mtn; PrentissSomerset
Gold BrookBowmanOxford
Gold BrookChain of Ponds; KibbyFranklin
Gold BrookChase StreamSomerset
Gold BrookT5 R6; Appleton TownshipSomerset
Nile BrookDallas; RangeleyFranklin
Kibby StreamKibbyFranklin
St. Croix RiverBaileyvilleWashington

Topographic maps covering these areas may be purchased from local sporting goods stores and bookstores or from the Maine Geological Survey, 22 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333. Telephone: (207) 287-2801.


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