For the first time ever Kitsap County Fair goers will have the opportunity to live like a prospector and learn to pan for gold from the father and son duo of West Coast Mining Supply.
Wes Kerry and his son Kevin own West Coast Mining Supply in Bremerton.
The father and son duo have always enjoyed prospecting and that love eventually evolved into a business opportunity. For the last four years, the pair have taken customers out on several mining trips a year to their gold bearing placer claims.
Gold bearing placer claims are defined by the Washington State Bureau of Land Management as “Including all forms of deposit, excepting veins of quartz, or other rock in-place. Placer claims, are located by legal subdivision with a maximum size is 20 acres per locator.”
Additionally West Coast Mining Supply also provides demonstrations of its mining equipment, including how to pan for gold on its mobile gold panning station.
“This will be the first year we bring this to the Kitsap County Fair,” said Wes Kerry.
Participants of any age will learn from Wes and Kevin how to pan for gold.
“They won’t get to keep the gold that’s already in the panning area, but once they learn how to pan they can buy some pay dirt and, pan, and keep that gold,” Kerry said.
“Pay dirt” are clumps of dirt that contain gold or other valuable minerals that can be extracted.
West Coast Mining Supply will be selling bags of “pay dirt” for $10 at the fair for folks to take home and sift through.
“They can also buy a full kit and learn about how to go prospecting from us too,” Kerry said.
The Kerry’s have their own YouTube channel about mining and panning called “Gold Father,” which has a little more than 340 subscribers and features videos about products, tools and services West Coast Mining Supply provides.
There isn’t much history regarding gold mining in Washington state.
The California Gold Rush of the 1850s reached as far north as the Columbia River, making Walla Walla the largest town in the then Oregon territory. In the 1880s Spokane became a boom town for gold miners in Idaho.
The Klondike Gold Rush in Alaska in the 1890s pulled the city of Seattle out of a recession and gave rise to some of the most prominent businessmen like John Nordstrom and George H. Bartell.
But the most significant and successful gold mining effort in the state took place in 1873 along the Swauk Creek, which gave rise to the city of Liberty, just outside the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
As far as gold rushes impact on Kitsap County? It was minimal. The only minerals mined out of area were tin and cobalt found in the Green and Gold Mountains.