Gold Dredge No. 8

If you would like to take a little bit of Alaska gold fever back with you to show your friends, we recommend taking a tour through Gold Dredge No. 8.  This was an actual working dredge that carved through Goldstream Valley from 1928 until 1959.  Your entry fee includes a short film explaining the process used to prepare the Valley for the dredge, a guided tour through the actual dredge that was used, and a lesson on how to pan for gold.  You can choose whether you would like to pay a bit more to pan a “poke” of dirt that has “guaranteed gold”.  You can also pay to eat lunch at the facility’s mess hall.  You are allowed to stay and pan the tailings all day.  Once you find all the “color” you want, take into the assay office and gift shop where they will weight it and tell you the value of your gold.  Of course they will also make into a piece of jewelry for you if you like.  Many people have the few flakes of gold that they "panned" put into a small amulet to be worn on a chain.  They are quite attractive and fun to show friends back home.

To find Gold Dredge No. 8, head north out of Fairbanks on the Steese Expressway.  Turn left on Goldstream Road, and then take another left on the old Steese highway.  Find the dredge about one third of a mile on the right side of the road.

If this is your first time panning for gold, we recommend you go ahead and buy the poke and use it to learn how to pan properly.  Panning is relatively easy, but it can be frustrating if you try several times without success.  When you realize how heavy gold is, and how to properly shake it to the bottom of the pan, the process can be very exciting.  The tour including a poke with guaranteed gold costs $20.00 for adults and $13.00 per child.  The price for entrance can be less if you do not wish to get the pouch of dirt with guaranteed gold, and can be more if you purchase lunch with the tour.

The largest nugget I found came from the tailing piles they let us pan for the rest of the day.  Not much bigger than a broken pencil lead, it was still a fairly exciting find.  Many shovels full of the tailings produced no gold, but a few of them did.  There are small pieces of gold in the tailings but it is too expensive for a commercial operation to extract, however, shovels full of the tailings provide thrills for people learning how to pan.

Claimjumper discovered a method for finding gold in just about every pan full of dirt.  She noticed that each time she scraped her pan along the bottom of the water troughs and panned the dirt, there were several pieces of gold that other people had lost when learning.  We panned for an hour or two as several busloads of tourists came, panned and then left.  (The place is owned by Holland America Line-Westours.) Hundreds of people were coming through, and probably many of them dropped a few pieces of gold out of the guaranteed gold pokes as they tried to learn the proper panning techniques.  Be warned, this activity is very addictive.  Gold fever is easy to catch.  We enjoyed this place because we could stay as long as we wanted and experience the feeling and magic of the gold rush era.

For contact information on Gold Dredge #8, click here.

Last Visited: July 1999

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