Gold in Maine

gold from Milford MaineGold 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 Planning 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 streambank - 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.

Gold mining activities that would disturb stream banks or utilize larger equipment than what is described above require a permit under the Natural Resources Protection Act even on private property. If you have any questions about gold-mining regulations, or the use of a suction dredge, please contact the Division of Land Resource Regulation, Bureau of Land and Water Quality, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, State House Station #17, Augusta, ME 04333 (207-287-3901). In addition, commercial prospecting or mining on State property requires prior authorization (contact the Maine Geological Survey for details).

Maine has restrictions on the sale and uses of elemental mercury. Before undertaking processes that require the use of mercury, please contact the Maine Department of Environmental Protection at (207)287-2651.


Much of northern and eastern Maine, including the unorganized townships, is under the jurisdiction of a State agency called the Maine Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) . The regulations for gold prospecting in these areas are somewhat different than in the rest of Maine, chiefly in regard to motorized recreational prospecting. LUPC has standards for motorized gold prospecting, and if the activity is done according to these standards, a permit is not required. Proposed motorized prospecting not in accordance with the standards requires a permit. The standards also list certain areas that are closed to motorized prospecting. All non-motorized prospecting may be done without a permit. The standards for motorized recreational gold prospecting, which includes the list of restricted stream segments, can be found in Chapter 10 of the Commission's Rules and Standards (Sub-Chapter III: Land Use Standards, section 10.27G) or from the local LUPC Office.


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)


  • Central Maine Gold Prospectors

    Contact one of the following:
    • Phillip Moulton   Phone: (207) 660-7563
    • Charles Curtis   Phone: (207) 778-5364




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

Stream Township County
Swift River and its tributaries Byron area Oxford, Franklin
Sandy River Madrid to New Sharon Franklin
South Branch-Penobscot River Sandy Bay; Bald Mtn; Prentiss Somerset
Gold Brook Bowman Oxford
Gold Brook Chain of Ponds; Kibby Franklin
Gold Brook Chase Stream Somerset
Gold Brook T5 R6; Appleton Township Somerset
Nile Brook Dallas; Rangeley Franklin
Kibby Stream Kibby Franklin
St. Croix River Baileyville Washington

Topographic maps covering these areas may be purchased from local sporting goods stores and bookstores or from the Maine Geological Survey, 93 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333. Telephone: (207) 287-2801.

Last updated on September 24, 2012