Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Great Escape - Day 31: Panning for Gold

July 20

Gold, the metal that caused one of Alaska's great migration surges as people swarmed to and through Alaska; is still mined today.

One of the ways it's found is in the form of Placer Gold, small flakes embedded in what bedrock which has to be dug out and the surrounding rock/stones/dirt washed away revealing the heavier gold flakes.

First though, photos of both Richard M.  Our motoblogging host and a group picture of both Lori aka BeemerGirl of ForLoveOfAMotorbike, Richard M of Richard's Page and yours truly.

Lori and her husband Chris, showed up this morning with their Sprinter Van containing their two motorcycles and towing their RV Trailer.  They, Martha and I are guests of the Machidas here in Fairbanks.


Lori, Richard and yours truly

Today, after lunch, Bridget had arranged for us to attend a "pan for gold" tour, where we'd learn about Glacer Gold Mining, and about Gold Dredge #8.

Things weren't too crowded, thankfully, when we drove up in the Machida automobiles.  We got on the first of two trains scheduled for today by the Tanana Valley Railroad.  A narrow gauge railroad outfit who transports you past re-enactment scenes of mining operations in the early 1900s.  Cool Stuff.

 Gold Dredge 8
You get to walk around inside portions of it as part of the tour

Each of us got a small bag of dirt which was said to contain gold and we walked to a waiting pan along a trough of water to use.  We got instructions on the train on how to pan for gold but no worries, there were attendants nearby to help out with our panning technique!

 RichardM didn't find any gold flakes with his first bad
so the attendant cut him some slack and got him a second
bag on the house.

After everyone found a few flakes of gold in their respective pans, we trooped over to the weighing stations to get it weighed and valued.  Between Martha and I, we had about 0.02 oz of gold or $30.

Martha elected to have the gold flakes enclosed into a little locket by onsite personnel who just happened to be ready to do just that:

 A replica of the actual 40 pound ingots that would be
created, back in the day, of the gold that was collected
by the dredge crews.

 The dredge house contained large machinery
to move the big swing arm along which the large buckets
moved, like teeth on a chain saw, collecting dirt to 
be sifted through within the dredge house

 Happy Placer Miners

 photo courtesy BeemerGirl

photo courtesy BeemerGirl

 Richard, Bridget and Martha on the return train

As our tour ended, we saw a second group (much larger than our group) swarm the gold panning areas and related facilities as we prepared to board our train back to the parking lot.  Martha predicted it was people from the cruise ships, and that we'd find six buses in the parking lot.

 We actually found eight buses!  Arrgghh.

I will say, had we shown up and seen these buses already there, I would probably not have participated in the train ride or the tour or the gold panning.

But it all worked out great, we all had a great time....thanks to Bridget's great activity idea.

The later afternoon and evening was spent enjoying a nice BBQ meal at Richard and Bridget's home.  Jed (fellow airhead rider) and his girlfriend Laura joined us for this event; bringing moose burgers from a moose he'd shot last year.

So Martha and I had our first Moose Burgers.  There was salad (courtesy of Laura),  ribs, sausage, potato salad and pies, courtesy of the Machidas.

A good time was had by all.

Towards sunset, all the motobloggers rode out to Ester Dome about 12 miles away to catch the sunset.  The sunset would happen at 11:51 PM I believe.

Lori, Aka BeemerGirl rode her Honda Motorcycle and I was the monkey in RichardM's Ural Patrol.


BeemerGirl said...

Definitely some of the most fun we had in Fairbanks. So glad to meet up with you and appreciate the hospitality of Bridget and Richard.

redlegsrides said...

It was definitely a fun day BeemerGirl.....