Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at kcapps@newsminer.com, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

Pedro Creek

Rodger Hopp, a member of Pioneers of Alaska Igloo No. 4, helps erect a new sign at the Felix Pedro monument. 

Gold panning has been open and available to the public at Pedro Creek for a number of years. Now, a new sign has been erected to officially announce that gold panning is available at the site.

Pioneers of Alaska Igloo No. 4 owns the 19-acre Pedro claim located at 16 Mile Steese Highway. The Felix Pedro Monument, at that same spot, will be rededicated at 3 p.m. on Sunday as part of the annual Golden Days celebration. Featured speaker will be Curt Freeman, president of Avalon Development Corporation, a mineral exploration consulting firm based in Fairbanks.

The monument is located at a wayside there. The public is invited to the re-dedication.

The tale of Italian prospector Felice Pedroni (who came to be known as Felix Pedro) is well known in Fairbanks. He discovered gold on Pedro Creek on July 22, 1902. According to Pioneers of Alaska, Pedro’s life can be summarized with these words: “He started it all.”

Pioneer of Alaska Jim Plaquet provided this fascinating history of Felix Pedro, whose discovery of gold spurred the development of the vast Interior of Alaska. In fact, in 1909, the Pioneers of Alaska Igloo No. 4 organized in Fairbanks with 297 charter members.

From that day of discovery, through the summer of 1947, Pedro’s claim was continually mined. A. A. Zimmerman held the mining rights to the claim through a lease for many years. U.S. Smelting and Refining bought it in the late 1930s. That claim and other Pedro Creek claims continued to be mined until about 1960. In 1961, the U.S. Smelting Mining & Refining Co. deeded Pedro’s discovery claim to Pioneers of Alaska Igloo No. 4.

On June 21, 1947, the men’s Pioneer Igloo No. 4 placed an historical marker at Pedro’s discovery claim. It reads: “The first gold discovery in the Tanana Valley was made here by Felix Pedro July 22, 1902.”

By April 1952, plans were made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pedro’s gold discovery. Igloo No. 4 president Pat O’Neill found a granite boulder to use for the permanent marker and had it moved to the commemoration site. A bronze plaque was mounted onto the boulder and that became the permanent monument to Felix Pedro.

With the Fairbanks Pioneers of Alaska Men’s Igloo No. 4 leading the way, the Fairbanks community dedicated the site at an event that became a precursor to the Golden Days celebration of today. The “re-dedication” has happened every year since. This year, it happens at 3 p.m. Sunday at 16 Mile Steese Highway, hosted by Pioneers of Alaska Igloo No. 4 and Igloo No. 8.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com. Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDMNKris.