This had to be one of the funnest activities we did during our stay in Fairbanks. I was surprised that both men and women seemed to enjoy this adventure equally, so its actually perfect for couples or a family. We mainly came to see the auroras at night but found this little "nugget" as something we could check out during the day. The whole staff was really helpful and made sure you got the most out of the experience and understood what was going on. Plus we got some nice entertainment from a good local musician Earl Hughes.
Here is how what happens: The host who is a real miner, Jack in this case, gives you a rundown on some of the history of gold mining in Fairbanks, plus interesting facts about the Alaska pipeline, etc. Then you get on a little train that takes you around the property and it stops at various places to show you displays on how they used to mine the gold back in the old days. Earl also sang us some songs and played a little guitar, banjo and fiddle for us. Finally we worked our way around to the old dredge and they also had a guy there that showed us up close some techniques for panning and separating gold from the rest of the rocks. Everything was well narrated. The next stop was the visitor center/store where they actually gave you a "poke" which is a bag of rocks and dirt that contains gold taken from the "paydirt" on the site.
We then proceeded to an area that had troughs with warm water in them (very nice on a cold day). We then got a pan and poured the contents of the poke into the pan and went to work on removing the junk rocks and dirt. The staff gave us some help and showed us the smart way to pan out the junk while leaving the gold behind. Note that gold is heavier than the junk rocks in the pan so the gold will remain even if the other rocks wash out easily. Finally we got to a point that most of the debris was gone and we could finally see the pieces of gold!! We put the gold in a little container and headed inside to have it weighed and appraised.
It turns out I had about $15 worth of gold in the pan. One nice thing you can do, especially if you are a family or couple, is that you can take the gold that everyone finds and have it placed in a little glass charm that you can put on a necklace or bracelet. Its a nice conversation piece for sure and a great memory of the experience.
I recommend this tour!
If you own or manage Gold Dredge No. 8, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.