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Found 65 results

  1. Steve Herschbach

    The Chisana Story

    This gold prospecting and metal detecting story takes us all the way back to the beginning - my beginning that is. I was fortunate enough to be born in the Territory of Alaska in 1957. Alaska was still very much on the frontier back in those days. My father was a farm boy from the midwest who headed for Alaska in the early 50's with not much more than an old pickup truck. He worked as a longshoreman offloading ships in Seward, Alaska for a time. He decided to get some education and earned his way through college in Fairbanks, Alaska by driving steampipe for the fleet of gold dredges that were still working there. He spent some time in Seldovia, Alaska working the "slime line" in a fish cannery. He met my mom in Seldovia, the two got married, and finally settled in Anchorage, Alaska. I came along in 1957. My father had taken a job as a surveyor but money was tight in the early years. I was raised on wild game and garden grown vegetables, and as soon as I was old enough to handle it, I was walking a trapline every winter with my father. Dad was a hard worker however, and Alaska was having one of its many booms at the time - the construction of the oil and gas fields in Lower Cook Inlet. This was the Swanson River oilfield, discovered the year I was born. The state was prospering and my father along with it as a surveyor on the new Swanson Field. He got the bug for flying early on, and by the time I became a teenager he finally got his dream plane at the time - a Piper Super Cub, the classic Alaska Bush airplane. Super Cubs equipped with oversize "tundra tires" can land just about anywhere you can find about 300 - 400 feet of open ground. A great little airplane and the one I ended up flying to get my own pilot's license. Super Cub N1769P parked on knoll in Talkeetna Mountains, Alaska It was in this same timeframe that dad got me hooked on gold prospecting. In 1972 I saw an ad in a magazine "Find Lost Treasure" and had acquired my first metal detector, a White's Coinmaster 4. This must have got discussions going about gold, and my father did have some knowledge on the subject having worked around the gold mines in Fairbanks. He took me to a little creek south of Anchorage, Bertha Creek, and I found my very first flakes of gold! By the ripe old age of 14 gold fever was in the air, I had my first metal detector, and already wanted a gold dredge. My first dredge, a 3" Keene with no floatation, was on the way to me in 1973. Keep in mind that the price of gold had only recently been deregulated from the old fixed price of $35 per ounce. In 1972 it was around $60 per ounce, and in 1973 made it to just over $100 per ounce. The money was not my motivation at all. I already just loved finding gold, and the connection to the prospectors of old and the historical quest for gold were more compelling than any dream of striking it rich. I just wanted to find gold! My first metal detector and first gold dredge (my 3502 had the older aluminum header box & a power jet) A young man with a new detector, new gold dredge, gold fever, and a father willing to fly him anywhere in Alaska on adventure. How great is that? Now there was only one problem - where to go? There was no internet then, so it boiled down to libraries and research. In short order I discovered the United States Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.) bulletin series and the number one Alaska title of the series, Placer Deposits of Alaska, U.S.G.S. Bulletin 1374 by Edward H. Cobb. This one book and the references contained in it became my prospecting guide to Alaska. My desired target? Remote locations with large gold nuggets! I read the book and certain places just jumped out at me. One was the Iditarod area and places like Ganes Creek and Moore Creek - tales told elsewhere. This paragraph of page 114 caught my eye: "Placer mining in the Chisana district, first of creek gravels and later of bench and old channel deposits of Bonanza and Little Eldorado Creeks, has always been on a small scale with simple equipment. The remoteness of the area, shortages of water on some streams, and the small extent of the deposits all prevented the development of large operations. There has been little activity since World War II; the last reported mining was a two-man nonfloat operation in 1965." Wow, that alone sounds pretty good. Nothing really about the gold however. The secret to the Placer Deposits series is not so much the books themselves, though they are great for getting ideas, like I did. The key is to use the references listed and in this case the main one is The Chisana-White River District, Alaska, U.S.G.S. Bulletin 630 (1916) by Stephen Reid Capps. It turns out I had stumbled over the location of the last actual gold rush in Alaska in 1913. It was a small rush and did not last long, but it did mark the end of an era. The world was on the brink of war and the age of gold rushes was soon to be history. The history of the area is covered in the report starting on page 89. It is fascinating reading, but it was this note on page 105 that really sealed the deal: "The gold is bright, coarse, and smoothly worn. The largest nugget found has a value of over $130, and pieces weighing a quarter of an ounce or over make up about 5 per cent of the total gold recovered. The gold is said to assay $16.67 an ounce." Gold nuggets a quarter ounce or larger make up five percent of the gold? And that $130 nugget at $16.67 an ounce? Somewhere over seven ounces. That's all I needed to know. Very remote, worked by simple means, and large gold - I wanted to go to Chisana in general and Bonanza Creek in particular. Even the creek names scream gold - Bonanza Creek, Big Eldorado Creek, Little Eldorado Creek, Coarse Money Creek, and Gold Run. Now all we had to do was get there. But when I said remote, I meant remote. Chisana is practically in Canada 250 air miles from Anchorage. To be continued..... Chisana, Alaska location map
  2. My wife just said Alaska had a 6.7 quake. The news just said it’s in Anchorage Alaska. Chuck
  3. I was really heavy into very late fall and very early spring dredging in the late 90's time frame. This photo is from 1996 and was taken by my friend Rich Lampright. I worked a lot at Crow Creek Mine, which is glacial fed. It runs very high and fast in the summer when the glacier is melting. The best time to dredge is in the winter months when freezing temps bring the water levels down by over 50% and the water starts running crystal clear. It also made for some very cold dredging at times, but properly outfitted with a good drysuit you can stay surprisingly comfortable. Usually. Funny how some days I really was cozy and others it was just plain cold. I could operate well down to about 15 degrees. Below that, and the water literally froze in the sluice box while it was running. I resorted to subsurface dredges for the coldest spells as the box being underwater did not freeze up. But even then you see weird stuff. Ice crystals floating in the water build like snow drifts of slush behind rocks on the bottom, and giant balls of slush form on the pump intakes, eventually plugging them. Why suffer this you ask? I was seeing multi-ounce days working by myself. I took a lot of gold out of Crow Creek; even after paying a percentage to the owners it was good. In fact the best dredging I ever did. My best day in there working a 6" by myself was over 8 ounces of gold. This was my favorite dredge, my old Keene 6" with twin Honda 6HP pumps. This model was made with a molded marlex powerjet in two pieces - the jet and the flare. The jet and flare assembled was about six feet long but I could just toss it over my shoulder and carry it in one piece it was so light. The dredge had a stout frame with a lever handle leveling system, far superior to the later slide the box back and forth nonsense. The box was a well built single run sluice that I preferred over later double-decker designs. I never should have sold it. I did however, to Brian Berkhahn, and he also got a lot of gold with it. And I know he now also regrets selling it. It was the best Keene dredge I ever owned. Mark Keene told me they stopped making the marlex jets due to a high failure rate with the process but they should have either fixed the process or just charged more to make up for the failures. It was an incredible advance in the technology, and amazingly after all the years of use the inside of that jet never showed more than light scuffing. I think it was actually more durable than steel jets. This photo is first thing in the morning, breaking away all the ice that has formed around the dredge overnight.
  4. There are few places left where you can dredge legally in the United States, especially with larger suction dredges. Alaska however is very dredging friendly. I have been updating the Alaska Mining Claims For Sale page and there are several decent dredging claim packages available now at some good prices. If you are looking for a summer long dredging adventure, this is the place to start so check it out.
  5. Steve, I bought the F19 thinking I could hunt around Anchorage for silver coins. Did you have any luck in that area? Interestingly, I found four rings, two necklaces, several ear rings and pendants, few hundred in clad and lots of cash. And not one silver coin. Not sure if I should be disappointed by that?
  6. I am planning on bringing my SDC 2300 or my gold bug pro with 5” coil to one of these places. I am looking for any kind of info or tips on the likelihood of finding anything in each of these places since I’m pretty well new to detecting and have had no luck in past outings. Never been to crow creek before and spent only a little time in Hatcher Pass. Every time I’ve gone out with the GBP I was overwhelmed with hotrocks, which made me purchase the 2300 in hopes of seeing through them without trouble. I still find hotrocks with the 2300 but not as bad as the GBP.
  7. Hello, has anybody done detecting in the valley that the Little Susitna river passes through? I am thinking of the valley and slopes to the north and south of the river along the Gold Mint trail.
  8. This is the latest version of the 1997 Gold Panning: A Guide to Recreational Gold Panning on the Kenai Peninsula, Chugach National Forest, Alaska The guide has been newly updated for 2018 and can be downloaded here for free
  9. Edit: I chronicled this trip to Alaska first, and then told the story of my earlier 2013 Alaska Trip after the fact. I did well enough in 2013 I did not want to tip anyone off to what I was up to until I had a chance to return in 2014. Therefore this story got told first, as if the other had not happened. And then the years story was told at the link above. My history with the Fortymile Mining District of Alaska began in the 1970's and has continued off and on ever since. Last summer I spent considerable time in the area and have decided to return again this summer. Here is the basic plan. I leave Monday to drive from Reno to Alaska. I am stopping a day to visit family in Olympia then will continue to Anchorage, where I will pick up my brother Tom who is flying up from the Lower 48. Then we will backtrack to Chicken, Alaska and pitch a tent site at the Buzby's Chicken Gold Camp http://www.chickengold.com Main building at Chicken Creek Gold Camp Last year I mostly camped around but did spend a period of time at the Buzby's operation. When I was out and about I had to activate my satellite phone to stay in touch because there is no cell phone service in the Chicken area. The nearest cell phone access is a couple hours back along the road at Tok. There is WiFi access at several locations in Chicken however, one of them being at Chicken Gold Camp. The WiFi access is included in the price of staying there. I am getting a dry camp site for $14 a day (6 days get seventh day free) but it saves me $300 activating my satellite phone, and WiFi allows me to keep on the forum and stay in better touch with my wife than the sat phone. Bottom line not activating the sat phone ends up paying for nearly a month of staying at Chicken Gold Camp. Right now I am booked from June 15 until July 20 but may extend. Since I will have pretty much daily Internet access for the entire trip I am inviting you along via this thread to see how we are doing plus to perhaps answer questions for anyone planning to visit Alaska. The Internet access in Chicken is not the greatest even at its best, as the satellite dishes point straight at the horizon just trying to get a signal. That being the case plus I will be busy I will not be posting on other forums for the duration. If you know anyone who might be interested in following this point them this way. I will report in at least a couple times a week and probably more often as time allows or something interesting happens. My brother and I will be commuting to various locations from our base camp in Chicken, with a lot of attention paid to Jack Wade Creek about 20 minutes drive up the road. I have access to mining claims on this and other creeks in the area, but we will also spend considerable time on the public access area on the lower 2.5 miles of Jack Wade Creek. Visit this link for more information. This area is open to non-motorized mining and we will of course be metal detecting. I have detected on Jack Wade a lot, and I can tell you it is an exercise in hard work and patience. It is all tailing piles full of nails and bullets. The nuggets are very few and far between, with even a single nugget in a day a good days work. However, the nuggets are solid and can be large so can add up if you put in a lot of time. Or not as luck does have a bit to do with it. You could easily spend a week detecting Wade Creek and find nothing. So do not be surprised when I make lots of reports indicating nothing found on a given day. We fully expect that to be the case but hope we hope a month of detecting here and at other locations will pay off. I plan on relying mostly on my GPX 5000 but will also be using a Gold Bug Pro for trashy locations or for when I am tired from running the big gun and want to take it easy. I usually run my 18" mono coil on the GPX unless in steep terrain or brushy locations and dig everything. And that means a lot of digging! The Gold Bug Pro eliminates digging a lot of trash and is easy to handle in thick brush. My brother will mostly use my old GP 3000 he bought from me years ago. I am also bringing along the Garrett ATX kind of for backup and also to experiment around with. It also will be easier to use in brushy locations than the GPX. Finally, I hope to possibly have a new Minelab SDC 2300 get shipped to me somewhere along the way to use on some bedrock locations I know of that have been pretty well pounded to death. Chris Ralph will be arriving in Fairbanks on July 8th so I will drive in and pick him up. He will be staying with Tom and I until I return him to Fairbanks on July 21. High on the list is to visit with Dick Hammond (chickenminer) and other friends in the area. The road to Alaska is just another highway these days, with the only real issue being the lack of gas in northern Canada in the middle of the night. The pumps there still do not take credit cards so when the gas station closes you are stuck there until it opens in the morning. Do not try to get gas at Dot Lake at 2AM! I will drive to Olympia to spend a night and day with my mom (12 hours) then on to Dawson Creek/Fort St. John (16 hours), then to Whitehorse (15 hours), and then to Anchorage (12 hours). Four days driving, about $500 in gas for my Toyota 4-Runner. Pick up Tom and some supplies and then back to Chicken (about 8 hours). Anyway, you are all invited along at least via the internet to share in the adventure. You have any questions about Alaska in the process then fire away. This post has been promoted to an article
  10. Had fun flown 38 minutes out of bethel alaska and detected for 2 hours
  11. For those Alaskans unaware, DNR has been trying to revise certain sections of the Alaska mining statutes. Our Alaska legislature is no better than the DC circus! DNR said the hell with them (my words) and has switched gears toward regulation change. I just received this notice. "Dear Recipient, The Department of Natural Resources proposes to change regulations on mining. The Department of Natural Resources proposes to adopt regulation changes in Title 11 of the Alaska Administrative Code, dealing with mining, including the following: (1) 11 AAC 86.215 is proposed to be amended to address requirements for mining locations on state-owned land. (2) 11 AAC 86.216 is proposed to be added to address overlapping and conflicting mining locations on state-owned lands. (3) 11 AAC 86.220 is proposed to be amended to address annual labor, recording and amending affidavits of annual labor, essential facts required for affidavits of annual labor, and cash payments made instead of performing annual labor. (4) 11 AAC 86.224 is proposed to be added to address penalties and eligibility to cure an abandonment of a claim or location under AS 38.05.265. (5) 11 AAC 86.541 is proposed to be amended to address conditions for termination of a tide or submerged land mining lease and to address default cures in lease contracts. (6) 11 AAC 86.590 is proposed to be added to provide definitions. Attached please find copies of the proposed regulations, the public notice and the Dear Alaskan Letter which goes into more detail regarding the Department’s proposed actions. You may comment on the proposed regulation changes, including the potential costs to private persons of complying with the proposed changes, by submitting written comments to the Department of Natural Resources, 550 W. 7th Avenue, Suite 1070, Anchorage, AK 99501-3579 or by e-mail to dnr.mining.regulation@alaska.gov or by fax to 907-269-8904. The comments must be received by the department no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, June 4, 2018. You may submit written questions relevant to the proposed action to: Joseph Joyner, Department of Natural Resources, 550 W 7th Ave., Suite 1070, Anchorage, Alaska 99501-3579 Fax: (907) 269-8904, E-Mail: dnr.mining.regulation@alaska.gov. The questions must be received at least 10 days before the end of the public comment period. The Department of Natural Resources will aggregate its response to substantially similar questions and make the questions and responses available on the Alaska Online Public Notice System https://aws.state.ak.us/OnlinePublicNotices/Login.aspx and agency website at http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/mlw/hottopics. For more information, a copy of the proposed regulation changes, or if you have any questions regarding the proposed regulations, go to http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/mlw/hottopics, or write to the Department of Natural Resources, Attention Joseph Joyner, 550 W. 7th Avenue, Suite 1070, Anchorage, Alaska 99501-3579; or call 907-269-8511. After the public comment period ends, the Department of Natural Resources will either adopt these or other provisions dealing with the same subject, without further notice, or decide to take no action on them. The language of the final regulations may be different from that of the proposed regulations. You should comment during the time allowed if your interests could be affected. Sincerely Joseph Joyner, Chief, Program Support Section, DMLW, DNR"
  12. Ha!Ha! You row in it's 1900 you gotta row out!!
  13. Looking for information on the 345 trail from Fairbanks Alaska towards Mcgrath Alaska. Supposedly it is also referred to as the Kobi-Mcgrath trail. Have a D9 cat in Fairbanks I am thinking of moving to Mcgrath next winter and was wondering if anyone has some useful insight into this undertaking. Thanks everyone!!
  14. Forum member East Texas Chris came to Alaska last summer to do a little fishing and hunt for gold. I let him prospect on my claim at Canyon Creek in the Kenai Peninsula while he was here, even let him use a dredge to work with. Chris did a great job dredging by the bank with the 2 inch dredge I believe he ended up with about an 1/8th oz. of gold for the effort. Been really busy the last few months, but Saturday I got some free time. I decided to dredge the spot Chris worked last summer to make sure the area was clear of gold. Well about the area he had been standing wile dredging I found a crack in the bedrock, after busting it open and cleaning it up I was surprised to find about 10 G. of fine flakes and a really pretty 4 G. nugget. Really nice to see nuggets. Hope you enjoy the gold.
  15. End of the dredge season is coming! Temps are dropping and the river will freeze in the next few week, thought I would take a moment to share my gold take so far. Seems like a lot of work but I did manage to get about six ounces, mostly fine stuff but a few nice nuggets in the mix Hope where ever you guys are dredging the water is a hell of a lot warmer.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. This is an interesting dredge. I was really into subsurface dredges for portability. Keene for a brief time sold a set of inflatable pontoons, so I got a pair and in 1999 put this 5" subsurface dredge together. The frame was homemade out of stock aluminum, and the pontoons were held in place with plastic drums I split in half length-wise. The tube was a standard Keene 5" subsurface dredge tube of the time. The old black marlex version was a pain because the tray clipped on at the forward end. I had to reach into the middle of the assembly to release the clips, and then the tray would drop down in front. In current this was a problem for sure as the current would want to grab the tray and knock it down. The later granite gray marlex tubes were improved with the release clips at the rear, which were easy to grab from the back of the dredge. The rear of the tray would drop down and was easily slid out to the rear. Much better. 5.5HP Honda powered Keene P-180 pump with 5" suction nozzle. Nice dredge, very compact and light-weight. This was on the Mills Creek Cooperative claims on upper Mills Creek on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. We got a lot of nice gold in the stretch in the picture as a narrow canyon widened out at this point. Bob(AK) is a member of the forum, and he also did very well here. Another couple photos of the dredge taken with the crappy digital cameras of the day while being built in my back yard.
  19. After an unfruitful couple days in NorCal (only a couple specks), heading down to Crow Creek with the GPAA guys for 5 or 6 days and hoping Steve left something behind! It's the only place I've found anything worth talking about so far, so here's to doubling it! GMT, ATX, Sluice and Pan...any other suggestions?
  20. This one sure brings back nice memories! My old Keene 5" dredge parked on lower Stetson Creek on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska in 1979. The first of many years dredging on this creek and on Cooper Creek, which Stetson feeds into. This was one of my more pleasant summers of dredging. The weather was nice, the water was low, the gold was good. This location was giving up about an ounce a day, better than the average on Stetson Creek. Mainly because of plentiful shallow bedrock. The gold is almost all on bedrock in Stetson Creek with little or nothing in the overburden. The more overburden you process, the less gold you get overall as a rule. This is because Stetson Creek is a classic gulch deposit, a very steep creek with waterfall after waterfall. Mother nature's giant sluice box, and the gold has been well settled and concentrated. The paystreaks were small and very well defined, move over just a foot and it was like crossing a line, you were in the gold and now you are out. There were large stretches of creek with smooth bedrock and so little gold you would think there was none in the creek if you got into one of those sections. The gold was nice - lots of jewelry gold buy nothing really big. The two pennyweight nugget in the photo was about as large as I ever found in years of mining, though the records report a three ounce nugget having been found on the creek. Must of been a fluke from what I saw, if it even happened at all.
  21. Well got the dredge fixed up as much as I'm gonna! Springs here and I got the fever. So in we go. Took the dredge in assembled just skidded it in on the float and pulled it with a snowmobile. That was nice with all the snow it was about a mile in. Getting the dredge into the canyon was another deal. Although not to bad lowered it in with a rope and a pulley. Made for a long day but I was glade we got it in before the snow melted, skidding everything was a lot easier than packing in. Went up the following weekend to try out the new six inch dredge! Had big plans to get in early Saturday and work late, figured I could get 8-10 hours on the nozzle. LOL! Well its been a long winter and seems I'm a bit outta shape. After four hours of dredging in the cold I was done! All in all I had a blast. The new dredge really put out compared to the four inch I've been using. Even got a few grams for the effort. May not seem like much but after being cooped up all winter and seeing all the gold post from down south and across the pond........ I was getting Bitchy ;-) P.S. Hope the snow pics helps you down in Texas.
  22. Abstract Alaska consists of more than 663,000 square miles (1,717,000 square kilometers) of land—more than a sixth of the total area of the United States—and large tracts of it have not been systematically studied or sampled for mineral-resource potential. Many regions of the State are known to have significant mineral-resource potential, and there are currently six operating mines in the State along with numerous active mineral exploration projects. The U.S. Geological Survey and the Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys have developed a new geospatial tool that integrates and analyzes publicly available databases of geologic information and estimates the mineral-resource potential for critical minerals, which was recently used to evaluate Alaska. The results of the analyses highlight areas that have known mineral deposits and also reveal areas that were not previously considered to be prospective for these deposit types. These results will inform land management decisions by Federal, State, and private landholders, and will also help guide future exploration activities and scientific investigations in Alaska. Suggested Citation Karl, S.M., and Labay, K.A., Geospatial analysis identifies critical mineral-resource potential in Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017–3012, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20173012. Fact Sheet https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2017/3012/fs20173012.pdf Full Report https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/ofr20161191
  23. Steve, you stated you installed drain plugs on your pumps. I picked up some 1/4 inch drain cox's to install on my pumps. Any words of wisdom before I go drill my pumps? Little nervous about this.
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