This image is hidden for guests. Please log in or register to see it. Gianni Groening, 4, pours a portion of raw soil into a gold pan at the Temecula Valley Prospectors exhibit at the Wild West themed 12th Annual Fall Back Festival in the Gaslamp Quarter Sunday for children.
By JENNIFER KABBANY Special to the U-T
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - Long before gold reached nearly $2,000 an ounce and reality television shows such as “Gold Rush: Alaska” became huge hits, there was the Temecula Valley Prospectors.
The group, which formed in 2001, is designed to allow people who like to pan for gold or use metal detectors to search for treasures to band together for camaraderie, advice and joint field trips.
That hasn’t changed, but the numbers in its ranks have.
Today, the club has about 100 members of all ages, which is a lot more than when it first started, said Jackie Johnson, secretary of the group.
The more the merrier, she added.
“It’s a blast,” Johnson said. “You learn a lot, and it’s a lot of fun.”
But don’t quit your day job just yet.
“I don’t find enough to pay for my gas, but then again, I am not a serious prospector,” Johnson said. “They say you have to move a lot of dirt to find a lot of gold, but we have some guys in our club that go out there and work and they do quite well, they can make money on it.”
Membership in the club is free and help is offered to anyone interested in learning about prospecting and metal detecting.
The club also organizes periodic trips to look for gold, such as to nearby mountains and rivers. Johnson said the members never travel too far, and those who don’t have equipment may borrow some from others.
The monthly meetings take place on the second Saturday of the month. They begin at 9 a.m. at the Temecula Community Center, 28816 Pujol St., and coffee and refreshments are served.
The meetings typically include a guest speaker and an opportunity to share the biggest “finds” of the month.
“When people find gold it’s usually nowadays more flakes of gold,” she said. “You will find nuggets, but it’s rare. Everybody finds flakes and the flour gold. Metal detectors, those people bring in everything from toys and coins and wedding rings and watches and all kinds of stuff.”