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