| May 2004


Fanning mill

Occasionally Farm Collector will print answers to readers' questions when information is available from knowledgeable sources.

Letter from the February 2004 issue of Farm Collector:

The 'Fully functional, but for what?' item on page 5 of the December 2003 issue may well be what is called a 'dry washer.' Much of California's gold was derived from the sand and gravels of streams using a variety of pans, rockers, sluice boxes - and later - dredges. But those who prospected in the dry California desert regions used air to separate the heavy gold from the lighter sand and gravel.

This 'dry washer' blew air up through a screen on which the gold-bearing material was spread. The heavy gold remained behind. The handles allowed it to be moved from one place to another. Sometimes these areas were known as 'dry diggings' to distinguish them from the usual wet areas along streams. Quite a few dry washers were used in California's Mojave Desert in the first half of the 20th century, especially during the Great Depression.

Of course this item could be some thing else completely, but the 'dry washer' sure comes to mind.

- R.H. Chamberlain P.O. Box 2320 Flournoy, CA 96029

'In the February issue, you published my letter tentatively identifying a device as a 'dry washer' for mining gold. Now, we have a correct identification from a reader. His letter and picture are as follows:'