Gold Dredge 8 Success: Sports Team Strikes Gold


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – When sports reporters think of Alaska Goldpanners, we think of the summer collegiate baseball team in Fairbanks. But just over 10 miles from Growden Park ballfield lies the former hub for real gold panners, brave souls who came to the Golden Heart City during the gold rush of the early 1900s.

Gold Dredge 8 — experienced by thousands each year — explains that and more, beginning alongside the Trans-Alaska Pipeline where “black” or “liquid gold” has been flowing since 1977.

”It is like gold mining, the pipeline is the lifeline of Alaska,” Gold Dredge 8 President Jayson Kowalchuk said. “We are happy to have it here as part of the story.”

That story tells of the many parallels between the gold rush and pipeline boom.

“In 1977, right off the pipeline, I started gold mining,” recalled Gold Dredge 8 tour guide Dexter Clark. “In one way or another, right up until 2015 when I retired off of Fox Creek, I’ve either had a toe or a finger in the mine.”

Clark recalls the moment he became hooked on gold mining.

”On Sept. 26, 1977, at 5 to 5 in the afternoon, it was 28 degrees Fahrenheit, light snow falling, this piece of gold right here changed my life,” he said as he pointed to a 1-ounce gold nugget.

The History of Gold Dredge 8

The tour through time continues via train, a narrated journey through the fields of gold where bits of history remain.

”The Tanana Valley Railroad, the little train that we take you on, it actually used to run out through this valley here and that is how the gold dredge was actually brought into this valley,” Kowalchuk said. “There was 110 flat cars that came into this valley with Gold Dredge 8 on it in 1927 and they erected it and started it in ‘28.”

Gold Dredge 8 went on to dredge millions of ounces of gold between 1928 and 1959.

”We’re telling the story here of how the miners did it back in the ‘30s,” Kowalchuk added. “The Gold Dredge itself is a huge hit, people can walk onboard it, they actually get to touch it, they get to see it.”

The Gold Extraction Process

The dredge, listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, uses a mechanical method to extract earth material, take it down the “bucketline” and sift it with water so the heavier gold settles to the bottom and dirt washes away.

After a brief gold panning demonstration from Dexter the Expert, it is time to put on the suspenders and mine some gold yourself. With a pan, a “poke full of pay dirt” and a little guidance, guests take home real flakes of Alaskan gold after the process.

”Everybody finds gold but there was one individual that found $328 in one pan,” Kowalchuk said.

As far as what the sports team came away with, Jordan panned $13 worth of gold and Tyler Lane about $7, so they won’t be retiring anytime soon but will use the funds towards their next Roadtrippin’ adventure.

Additional Insight: Experiencing the Gold Rush Legacy

Visiting Gold Dredge 8 not only provides a glimpse into the historical gold mining practices in Alaska, but it also allows visitors to actively participate in the gold panning process, creating a hands-on experience that connects them to the region’s rich gold rush legacy. By trying their hand at panning for gold, guests can appreciate the challenges and excitement that early prospectors faced in their quest for fortune.

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