Now you have a chance to follow the steps of your ancestors, assuming they went to California in 1849 to find gold. Geologists estimate that during the gold rush of 1849 in California, about 80 percent of the gold was never found. Today, with the price of gold soaring and the economy falling, the idea of panning, digging or diving for precious metal has become serious business. In fact, significant amounts of gold can be found within an hour's drive of downtown Los Angeles.
NBC News has an interesting story about modern-day prospectors at http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/NEW-CALIFORNIA-GOLD-RUSH.html.