Hop aboard a narrow-gauge train and stake your claim to gold on this two-hour tour of Gold Dredge 8. Learn how 100,000 gold rushers fought the permafrost in their quest to get rich—then grab some gold of your own! You’ll visit the historic dredge (a giant machine used to scoop pay dirt) and meet miners Yukon Yonda and Dexter Clark, who have been mining here since the 1970s. Then explore the old mining site and pan for gold.
The tour begins beside the Trans-Alaska pipeline. You’ll learn about Alaska’s “black gold,” then board a replica of the Tanana Valley Railroad. Listen for the whistle and the hiss of steam as you head off on a 35-minute ride through boreal forest to Alaska’s Interior gold fields. Enjoy the open-air train cars as you’re entertained by conductor Earl Hughes, who plays old fiddle tunes and spins yarns about early Alaskan boom times.
Then pull into the dredge, which mined this area from 1927–1942. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the dredge is a mechanical wonder. It “walked” across the gold fields, scooping up pay dirt and mechanically panning it. Check out its conveyor belt of gargantuan metal scoops that tilled the earth. Or look for the stilt-like legs, which it used to cross the fields. Yukon Yonda and Dexter Clark will tell you all about the dredge, as well as what it takes to be an Alaska miner. They’ve been mining up here for over 30 years and have all the insider secrets on how to strike it rich.
Search for Gold
Then you’ll put their advice to work, panning for gold. And you're guaranteed to find some as you sift through the dredge tailings, which Alaskan miners are still working. Have your gold weighed at the gift shop and find out the market value of your haul.
There’s complimentary coffee and fresh-baked cookies in the gift shop, and you’ll have time to wander the grounds or explore the dredge before boarding the train for the return trip.