If you want to learn about Alaska’s two gold rushes and get a little railroad history along with it, a tour of Gold Dredge No. 8 is exactly what you’re looking for.
The gold rush that helped put Fairbanks on the map, the Tanana Valley Railroad that took gold seekers to the various Interior mines, and the black gold rush of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline are all part of the two-hour history tour at Gold Dredge No. 8.
And then you will get to the opportunity to pan a little paydirt as part of your tour and collect a few gold flakes as a souvenir.
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.
The opening of Gold Dredge No. 8 will be delayed from its original May 13 start date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The start date is currently set for Aug. 1.
When Gold Dredge No. 8 tours do resume, they will be at 10:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. daily. The cost of the two-hour tour is $42.95 for adults, $26.95 for children age 3-12 and age 3 and under are free.
The first gold rush in the Interior was for the mineral gold found in the rivers, streams and ponds in the area. It began in the early 1900s and in some form or fashion continued to almost the middle of the 20th century.
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 and on to the port city of Valdez.
Visitors begin their Gold Dredge No. 8 tour at the train depot near Goldstream Road and the Old Steese Highway about 7 miles north of Fairbanks.
You will ride 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 pipeline, and you will learn about the construction and operation of the pipeline while standing in its shadow.