There are two kinds of gold found in Alaska, and both created stampedes to Interior Alaska and the Fairbanks area in particular.
A trip to Gold Dredge No. 8 will give the visitor a chance to learn about both kinds.
The first gold rush was for the mineral gold found in the rivers, streams and ponds dotting the Fairbanks area. That rush started in the early 1900s and in some form or another continued until almost the middle of the century.
Visitors will have their own opportunity to discover gold at the gold panning area.
The second stampede came in the 1970s with the building of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, which brings black gold (oil) from Prudhoe Bay through the Interior to the port city of Valdez.
Located just seven miles north of Fairbanks in the beautiful Goldstream Valley, Gold Dredge No. 8 offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the gold seekers of yesteryear as well as the “black gold” flowing through the oil pipeline.
Visitors start at the train depot near Goldstream Road and the Old Steese Highway just north of Fairbanks. You will ride to the dredge site on a replica of the Tanana Valley Railroad that linked mining communities north of Fairbanks to the river system in the early gold mining days. You will hear tales of the thousands of miners who swarmed the surrounding valley in the early 20th century searching for the big strike.
The tour also provides a close-up view of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. You’ll learn about construction and operation of the oil pipeline while standing in its shadow.
Gold Dredge No. 8 is a National Historic Site, and the tour focuses on the history of small- and large-scale mining in the Interior. You’ll see firsthand how dredges in Alaska sifted the gold from the soil, recovering 3.5 million ounces of gold during the time they were in use.
The two-hour tour allows visitors time to explore the dredge, the dredge camp and the gift shop to have their gold weighed before boarding the train for the ride back to the depot.
IF YOU GO
What: Gold Dredge 8
When: 10:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. daily, May 11 to Sept. 21
Where: 1803 Old Steese Highway
Cost: $42.95 for adults, $26.95 for children age 3-12, free for children age 3 and under; reservations required
More info: 907-479-6673; www.golddredge8.com