Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Steve Herschbach

Gold & History of The Iditarod Mining District, Alaska

Recommended Posts

Steve Herschbach    7,478

The March 2014 issue of the ICMJ Prospecting and Mining Journal just arrived in the mail. I have an article in it Gold Of The Iditarod Mining District, Alaska. I enjoyed this one because I have been to the Iditarod area in the past and may visit in the future, so the research I did may have some real world practical use for me.


If you have an online subscription you can read the article at http://www.icmj.com/article.php?id=2349


Iditarod is the third largest gold producing district in Alaska with over 1.45 million ounces of gold and nearly 200,000 ounces of silver mined through 1990. Much of that production came from three bucket line dredges that operated on Flat and Otter Creeks. There are miles of tailing piles so you would think this might be a great metal detecting location but most of the gold found was small. There were a few large nuggets found on tributary streams but the chances of finding a large gold nugget in the bucket line tailing piles is very small. Which explains way although I spent years only 30 miles away at Moore Creek I never made time to go detect in the Flat/Iditarod area.


My father and I did fly over at one point to visit and return a jack we had borrowed. I got a few photos and a couple are used in the article. Here are a couple that were not.


This is a view of Flat, Alaska. Iditarod was actually a supply port town on the Iditarod River about eight miles away. Flat was where the miners lived. Otter Creek is in the foreground with one end of the runway visible on the left. Flat is about 300 miles from Anchorage. You have to fly to McGrath then charter a plane to Flat or charter direct from Anchorage or Fairbanks. Needless to say getting there is not a cheap date. And be aware the ground is still active and under claim. Flat Creek is visible as the valley behind Flat and you can see miles of tailing piles in this photo. Chicken Mountain, the source of the gold in Flat Creek, is visible in the upper left corner.



Aerial View of Flat, Alaska by Steve Herschbach June 2005


Here is an enlargement detail of the bucket line dredge parked just below the townsite. This was the Beaton-Donnelly dredge, later operated by the North American Gold Dredging Company. The dredge operated from 1916 - 1963.



Closeup of Beaton-Donnelly Dredge at Flat, Alaska by Steve Herschbach June 2005


One great diagram was left out of the article so here it is. It shows the paths the three dredges took while mining the two valleys. The location of the one shown as parked in 1963 is the dredge in the photo above.




The Riley Investment Company dredge operated from 1914 - 1966 and is parked on upper Otter Creek. Here is an aerial photo of it.



Closeup of Riley Investment Dredge at Flat, Alaska by Steve Herschbach June 2005


Anyway, fascinating place with a ton of history. My partner John and I planned on visiting last summer but health issues forced him to put it off. We are meeting soon to discuss whether to give it another go this summer or fall. The prospects for finding gold are not that great. Old coins are a possibility but the old town of Flat was mined at least twice so even that is questionable. Still, it is a place I have always wanted to spend some time at and this may be the year I need to seize the opportunity and just do it.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

chickenminer    53


  Enjoyed those photos ...thanks. I always wanted to get over there, but never made it past

the Nixon Fork area.

  That dredge sure made some nice wetlands !!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
sjmpainter    132

Shure would like to see one of those bucket line dredges in operation!


It would be an impressive feat in this day and age to set up a dredge in the middle of nowhere let alone 1912. Amazing what the old timers accomplished.


You know the history of mining is more interesting than finding gold. Well almost.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
nevel182    0

Shure would like to see one of those bucket line dredges in operation!


It would be an impressive feat in this day and age to set up a dredge in the middle of nowhere let alone 1912. Amazing what the old timers accomplished.


You know the history of mining is more interesting than finding gold. Well almost.



Well your in luck! I have heard from a little bird that one of the miners on GOLD RUSH on Discovery channel happened to get one and is operating it some where in the America's. I will not ruin it for you just trying to give you all something to look forward too.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By Jim_Alaska
      Just a heads up concerning the Alaska Gold Forum and The New 49'ers forum for those who may be wondering why they can't access these forums.
      The main servers went down last week. No one knows why and the  board providers cannot be reached to fix the problem. At this time it is unknown if or when these forums will come back online. There is a very real chance that they will not come back and I am now looking at different options for bringing them back under a different message board provider.
      The worst part of this is not just losing the forums for the mining community and loyal contributors and readers, it is also the loss of many years of valuable information.
      I just wanted to let people know why they cannot access these forums any more. Many times things like this happen and no one ever knows why. What has happened is beyond my ability to remedy as the forums administrator because the board format owners and servers belong to their owners. I have no way to fix the problem.
    • By Steve Herschbach
      I have just been notified by Jim Foley that that the Alaska Gold Forum is down. He is working hard on a solution but it does not sound very hopeful at the moment. The AGF is one of the older forums and has a lot of Alaska information in particular that it would be a shame to lose. Good luck Jim, hopefully something works out.
    • By Steve Herschbach
      Akau/Alaska Gold and Resort,L.L.C. started pay-to-mine operations in 2012 on historic mining claims in the vicinity of Anvil Creek near Nome. Anvil Creek was a very rich creek and many large gold nuggets came from this area. I was busy in 2012 but several friends visited the mine and initial results were very promising.
      Nome Nugget Newspaper - See cover and page 16
      Another article
      Wow! Over thirty ounces in the group. My enthusiasm cooled a bit though when I found out most of it came out of a rich pocket that was found and shared. But then again, any one person could find a pocket like that, right? That is a major score.
      I really agonized over whether to visit in 2013. But I had prospects of my own in Alaska to visit where I did not have to pay a fee. The prospects did not look as good, but I did not have to find nearly as much to call it a profitable trip. It may not be quite as fun but I do actually have to make a profit prospecting when I can so it all goes into my mental calculator. I heard they were getting access to new ground on Anvil Creek, and good buddy Ken was popping with excitement at the prospects. I did not go, but I just knew here was going to make me really regret it. Then, a weird split arrangement was put in place for access to the new ground. I ran a pay-to-mine myself and this smelled like trouble to me, so that cemented my decision to see how it went before going. They run late into the fall so I just figured I would go in the fall if I heard big things.
      Well, I guess things went well but the news was if anything quieter than 2012. Lots of nice gold found in 2013 but not the huge nuggets I think that some were expecting. I ended up after my over a month of detecting in July ready for a break so I did not visit AKAU.
      Now 2014 is coming. The bottom line is AKAU is the best pay-to-mine metal detecting gig going in Alaska now as far as I can see. The owners are super nice people and trying hard. New operation still needs tuning from what I hear, but they really are trying hard to make people happy, and that is what counts. There really is a good shot at a one ounce plus nugget, and that is a rare opportunity indeed.
      Long story short at least four members of the forum have been there, Bob, Keith, Ken, and Tom. I am hoping they will chime in with a report. Mainly just telling people what to expect. Never having been there but having been to Ganes Creek and Moore Creek many times I already can tell people one thing. If you are looking to pay the fee plus air fares etc. and make a profit, do everyone a favor and do not go. Not if that is what you truly expect and if you will be unhappy otherwise. These things are a gamble and in most cases the trip is going to cost you more in money than you will make in gold. If even half the people could do that they would close up shop and start mining ASAP. But if you have the right attitude these things can be a real blast. I think this is well worth consideration.
      So please guys, share your experiences with us. Thank you in advance!
      Akau/Alaska Gold and Resort,L.L.C.
      AKAU Facebook
    • By MontAmmie
      Hi Ya'll and Happy Saturday!
      In anticipation of my Garrett Infinium being ordered (maybe), I decided to have a look at Google maps and see where I could go water hunt nearby.  As some of you may know, there are areas where it is illegal to detect in the water just south of my area, from about Sebastian inlet south to Ft Pierce.  I thought it might not be a bad idea to know exactly where these areas are, so that I could avoid getting into trouble.  So I googled this search to death and found that information about these lease areas is pretty scarce.  
      In my Google search I did find the Facebook page for Queen's Jewels Salvage Co, which leases the salvage rights from the state.  These salvage areas presumably include the wreck sites and a 3000 ft radius around each one, excluding the beach area from the low tide line up to the dunes.  So, law abiding citizen that I am, I pm'd whoever is in charge of the FB page and politely asked them what areas the leases cover and if Melbourne beach is ok to metal detect in the water.  Here is the answer I got:
      "It is illegal to detect anywhere in the water. A permit from the FLA Department of Historical Resources is required to search for any historical artifact. The only detecting permitted I. The State is on the beach."
      That didn't sound quite right to me.  I've seen lots of people in the water with detectors on the beaches all over the state and nobody was hauling them off in handcuffs.   So I asked nicely if it is ok to just search for modern jewelry and does this mean that the whole state is off limits to water detecting.  
      Well, apparently, it technically is.
      "Obviously that's not what you're looking for or you wouldn't have asked us. Do as you wish, I'm just telling you what the law says"
      Whoa there, Smeagol!  I wasn't trying to steal your One Ring from you!  
      So does this mean that all the guys detecting ankle-deep in the water at South Beach and Ft. Lauderdale are desperate fugitive criminals just waiting to be caught by the long arm of the law?  Apparently so.
      From MDHTalk website: "As for metal detecting in the water, all lands that are below the mean high water line are considered state sovereignty submerged lands and, while it is not against the law to possess a metal detector in the water, it IS against the law to disturb the bottom sediments. So, if something is detected, it would be illegal to dig for it. "
      Yeah, if it's fun, somebody, somewhere has probably passed a law making it illegal.
      I'm beginning to wonder if detecting in the water here is a good idea.  Do any of you Florida guys do it and have you ever been harassed for it?  
    • By goldbrick
      I am very interested in pocket hunting. There is not a lot of info on the net about this subject but what there is I think I have studied most of it. Where I feel deficient in my pocket hunting education is old petrology terminology. It seems like over the last 100 years there have been many changes in the names of rocks and minerals. Following is an excerpt from the Canadian GPEX gold forum which may help to illustrate the problems which beset the modern prospector when he tries to decipher what the old-timers were saying.
      "The chemical or mineral composition of this pocket formation is generally silica, lime, soda, alumina, potash, copper, lead, magnesia, iron, gold, quartz and water, although these conditions differ in each locality.  (Here I note a problem in terminology. The author uses 19th century mineral terms that I have difficulty translating. Calcite was not used in those days, but the term for it he used was lime, so I substituted calcite in places for today's readers. Soda and potash may have referred to sodium and potassium feldspars, but I'm guessing here. Magnesia may have been magnesite, MgCO. I don't know what the contemporary equivalent for alumina is. He interchanged terms for elements with those for minerals, so the particular minerals containing lead, sulfur and copper may have been understood by his contemporaries, but I don't know what he meant. Chloride puzzles me. Chloride had a meaning among mining men in those days that is no longer used and leaves me mystified)"
      Hopefully someone with experience in this area will school us prospectors that lack the ability or knowledge to translate the old terminology into a more modern one. I don't believe I am the only prospector who thirsts for this knowledge or could benefit from publication of it.