El Dorado Goldmine

Just north of Fairbanks lies a small mining community called Fox.  This area is rich in history, as well as yellow pay dirt.  A visit to the El Dorado Gold Mine Operation features my two favorite mining personalities, Yukon Yonda and Dexter Clark, a wife and husband team who have opened their claim to demonstration and a chance to catch your own gold fever. 

Find El Dorado mine by following the Steese Expressway north out of Fairbanks.  Continue straight as the Steese turns into the Elliott highway about another 1.3 miles.  On the left side of the road you will see in the trees above the parking lot a huge sign announcing the El Dorado Mine.

You will begin this adventure when you hop aboard a narrow gauge train that will take you on a short Disneylandesque trip through the hillside, where local actors recreate scenes from the gold rush era, and explain how miners find rich pay dirt in Alaska.  At the end of the rail tour, you are guided over to a real working sluice box.  Yonda and Dexter demonstrate how they use only water and the sluice to find gold nuggets they have dug from holes in their backyard.  Before your very eyes, they will dump a load of dirt, drain an upper pond trough the dirt and into the sluice, lift the remaining dirt into their pans, and pan out the heavy yellow mineral.  Then it is your turn.

You will walk back through a mine shaft and pick up a “poke”, which is a small bag of dirt that Dexter and Yonda guarantee has some measure of gold.  If it doesn’t then they give you another.  You take your bag over to tables of water where you learn how to pan yourself.  And at the bottom of your pan, once you have rinsed away the lighter materials, you will find anywhere from $3 to $10 worth of gold that you get to keep.  If you want to know a little secret on how to get more, read our tip in the Gold Dredge No. 8 adventure. Take your find into the assay office and gift shop and the employees weigh it for you and tell you the actual jeweler value of your recovery.

Finally, hop back on the train for a short trip back to the parking lot with a pocket full of real Alaska gold.

For more information, including contact info on El Dorado Gold Mine, click here.

Last Visited: June 1999


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