I began to take an interest in prospecting in the mid-70s when my grandfather was the Editor of the Journal and had active claims on the Trinity River in northern California. My brother and I worked for him occasionally during the summer, sorting the monthly mailing of the magazine back when it used to be done by hand. I think I was around the age of twelve at the time. I also tagged along with him to a few Western Mining Council meetings.
My grandfather decided to retire in 1979, and my parents abandoned their other careers to purchase the Journal. My father took over as the Editor around July of 1979. Over the next few years I helped design the first programs to take us from IBM punch cards to the computer age, handled the newsstand accounts, and accompanied my father to various locations to take photos for articles.
Around 1981 I purchased my first dredge from a now-defunct company called ATC Wetwashers, which was based in Aptos, California, and picked up the remaining items I needed from Frank at Pioneer Mining in Auburn. Frank was nice enough to give us a lesson or two so we didn't look completely foolish. I spent a few summers dredging, then focused on college and went off to another career.
In 1999, my parents felt it was time to retire and let me know they had put the Journal up for sale. After a few long, late night discussions, my wife Sally and I decided to change careers and purchase the Journal. We purchased the magazine in 1999. I took over as Editor; Sally is our Advertising Manager and also handles the magazine layout.
Since that time, I've had the opportunity to do a little prospecting in Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington and Montana. My hands-on experience has been limited to dredging and detecting, though I've been able to visit quite a few small and large operations over the years. I only wish I had more time to be out there exploring and prospecting!
I've tried to refocus our efforts on teaching -- I view this as the role of ICMJs Prospecting and Mining Journal. I want our readers to not only enjoy the articles in our magazine but to learn something, without the typical propaganda or advertising disguised as journalism you might see in other publications. It's a difficult task because we have readers of all levels, from beginners to 30-year miners. I've also tried to stay focused on customer service. It still annoys me when I call a business and the phone is answered by a recording -- if you call us between 8am-5pm Pacific Time, Monday-Friday, you should be able to talk to a live human being, unless all of our lines are busy!
In order to accomplish this, we've tried to find employees, writers and instructors who share this same vision. I think we've been pretty successful thus far.
We reached a milestone in 2011 when we hosted our first Gold Propsecting and Mining Summit in Placerville, California, which we repeated in 2012. The Summit is an extension of our goal of providing useful instruction to miners and prospectors of all levels. We accidentally picked Easter weekend for that first Summit, and we were pleasantly surprised when over 2,800 prospectors showed up; our off-site training class reached our limit of 200 students and was completely booked months in advance. Another 2300+ traveled to our 2012 event, and our expanded training classes taught over 350 would-be miners and prospectors that year. Unfortunately there was a scheduling snafu for 2013 (the venue was double-booked), but we have scheduled this event again for April 5-6 in 2014, with additional hands-on training days on April 4 and April 7, 2014.
My goal for this year is to get out of the office and do more prospecting. Hope to see you out there.