Porcupine Gold Mine Tour
On this tour we had the chance to see an actual working
gold mining operation. This is no
doctored up disneylandesque setup. You
will see the real guys doing the real thing.
A big front loader scoops up dirt and dumps it into a sluicing
apparatus. There are no chemicals
used at this mine. Just water and
gravity is all it takes to find the gold as it tumbles through the machine.
We arranged our tour through Scott at the Alaska
Adventure Center in Haines. As
one is headed through town on the Haines Highway toward the harbor hang a left
on second avenue. The Alaska
Adventure Center is the first building on the right.
A four wheel drive suburban with a soft top provides
transportation up to the mine. There
are toilets at the mine. The tour
guide, Bill, also serves coffee, tea and cookies up at the mine.
The tour costs $75 per person. Scott
had coupons for $10 off on groups of four or more.
The tour departs from Alaska Adventure Center at 9:00 a.m. on weekday
mornings. The mine is closed on
Saturdays and Sundays. The tour
lasts anywhere from three to four hours.
The trip begins with a drive up the Haines Highway.
Bill stopped in the famous eagle preserve and used his spotting scope to
show us several nests along the Chilkat River.
Due to the warm springs that keep the water temperature above freezing, a
winter run of salmon comes to spawn every year.
This allows hundreds of bald eagles to remain in Haines year round.
And because the preserve prevents human expansion into the area, the
habitat remains prefect for eagles to make summer homes.
Some biologists number the summer inhabitants in the thousands.
For more information on the Bald Eagle Preserve, click over to the State's
Website at www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/units/eagleprv.htm
For more information on the Bald Eagle Preserve, click over to the State's Website at www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/units/eagleprv.htm .
Continuing on our tour, Bill eventually left the highway
and turned onto a jeep road. Here
he took a few minutes to roll off the soft top of the Suburban so we could enjoy
an even better view of the breathtaking scenery.
The jeep road is definitely a 4x4 experience! At one point Bill had to gently crawl through a washed out
part of the road where the river had risen above the embankment.
The water was almost up to the running boards on the Suburban.
John Schnabel owns the mine.
Despite the fact that he is more than eighty years old he still gets out
there every weekday and personally mines the claim himself.
We watched as Mr. Schnabel filled the sluice with his front loader.
We stood on the sluice and observed his assistant, Todd, working through
the sediment. He showed us the
small gold nuggets that the process produced.
Last Visited: July 2000