Sunday, August 14, 2011

Old Chatanika Gold Dredge

One of the “Bonus” sights on this trip was a visit to the Old Chatanika Gold Dredge that was just a mile down the road from where we were staying at the Gold Camp.

We were told it was a great place to wander and stretch our legs, and see a piece of Alaska Gold Rush history.

How do you get there? “Well, drive a mile down the road and look for the Chatanika Lodge and restaurant..you can’t miss it” we were told…."Look for the totem pole!"

And then, ooh and ahh over all the flowers that are in big bloom! It’s been fun to see the varieties of “cool weather” flowers that seem to thrive in this climate! The colors are so rich and bright….inspiring all kinds of quilt possibilities in my head…

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Oranges and yellows and purples and blues, with a liberal sprinking of white and red and pink. I love seeing the planters full of gorgeous blooms, and the planters themselves, old cast offs from the earlier gold rush days!

We walked parked here and walked across the street, following a rocky path to where the gold dredge stood, silent and foreboding. The Chatanika gold dredge is a historic relic of gold dredge #3 owned and operated by the F.E. Company between 1928 and 1958. The dredge is located at about 27.5 metres (90 ft) along the Steese Highway east of Fairbanks in a 60 acres (24 ha) pond it dug itself, directly across the road from the Chatanika Lodge.

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The first thing we noticed along the rocky path were the remains of land stripping left after all production stopped.

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Evening was falling, and light was fading…this was about 8:30pm on Tuesday. You first see the pond, and then the dredge itself becomes visible. The most eerie thing was how quiet it was out there. I can imagine the racket this thing made when it was in production,

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Of course, graffiti “artists” had done their work, but this monstrosity was just amazing in its size and silence! Who were the men who came here to work to support their families? Where did they come from? What was life like here in 1924 for them? I can’t imagine!

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I liked the reflection of the sky and the trees in the dredge-made pond….

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And as the shadows fell, the silhouette behind us sat still and silent, just a cast off remnant of an earlier era on the Alaskan landscape. If only this relic could talk!

Back at our little room at the Gold Camp Hotel….I laid out my hexagon bottom section, to see how much had been accomplished over long flights, lay-overs, and many hours of driving through wilderness…

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Maybe some day someone will wonder about the story that this quilt could tell about all the places it has been and seen as well!


  1. what a great side trip! thanks for posting pics... I've never seen anything like this.

  2. Thank you for that glimpse of Alaska history! My dad's father was in on the Alaska gold rush - up over the Chilkoot Pass and all. Some day I want to see that.

  3. Thanks for sharing your visit with us Bonnie! I have so enjoyed reading your blogs and seeing the amazing pictures. I keep telling my husband I want to visit Alaska, but he just laughs and says I'm nuts. Well, okay, I AM a little nuts, but .... :*)

  4. I am so enjoying your trip. How fun to see the sites through someone else's eyes.
    Your hexagon quilt is looking fabulous. I love that also.

  5. I loved the flowers and other plants in Alaska, they grow so well I have never seen them grow so well and so colorful anywhere else except in the mountain states.

  6. I must admit, Bonnie...I just have always wanted to go to Alaska, and this is great fun to view this beautiful state through your eyes!! Enjoy each moment...and wow, you are making wonderful progress on your hexagons!!

  7. While in college in Fairbanks, my geology class visited a working gold mine. Bet it is still working now that gold is headed for $2,000 an oz.

    When I was a new tax auditor, I had an audit on a gold miner and had to figure out how to handle employment taxes and such if he paid his employees in gold. Everything can be strange in Alaska.

  8. Gorgeous scenery, thanks for taking us all along...

  9. Do you plan on listing all the places it has been on the label? That would really make people think!

  10. Anonymous4:27 PM EDT

    We went to Alaska twelve years ago. It was. A wonderful trip and your blog and pictures have brought back so many wonderful memories. The flowers and vegetables are amazing. The scenery is breathtaking. Thanks for sharing.


  11. I love the pictures. I know what you mean about the flowers. I visited Nova Scotia one year and was just amazed at how much bigger and more brilliantly colored the flowers seemed there.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing your impressions and photos! I lived in Fairbanks while my husband was stationed at Fort Wainwright between 1978 and 1983. We loved it and have always wanted to visit again so your photos of the old sites are precious to me. Thanks again.


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