PLYMOUTH, Vermont – Al Davis Jr. cracks a smile as he spots a speck of gold glittering in a plastic pan full of muck pulled from a Vermont brook, revealing a gold tooth made from some earlier finds.
Davis, decked in waders and wearing a hat festooned with a tiny bottle filled with gold flakes, is part of a community of prospectors who number around 3,000 in New England.
Often equipped with little more than a shovel and a pan, they can be found knee-deep in streams and rivers on most summer weekends in places like Plymouth; Byron, Maine; and Bath, New Hampshire.
“There is something magical about it. You always keep coming out because you want to see if you can beat the one you got,” said Davis, who has been mining for nearly half a century. “Can I get one a little bigger?”