Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mining Gold for a Day

 While working at the Cafe, I met a miner named Tom and his wife Louise. They own a mining claim 8 miles up Linda Creek and have spent their lives shoveling dirt and washing it to extract gold. They invited me to visit for a day.

They gave me directions to their cabin (refusing to write them down), and told me never to disclose the location of their claim. 

After 4 hours of tramping around in the bush, I saw some smoke behind a ridge and followed it till I found the claim. They were very down-to-earth, friendly and patient when I'd screw-up some of the machinery. 

Federal regulations state that any mining operation must have an "official" office, so Tom had his sons draw the red sign above the shed. Also, safety is a priority: hardhats must be worn at all times:


No-one pans for gold anymore, it's all about industrial-sized machinery: dredges, sluices, bulldozers and front-end loaders.

Sluice box


Tom's family has been mining in Alaska for 3 generations.When I asked him if he ever wanted to do something else, he said "why the hell'd I given up something this good?"

Down in the mines
 Gold is not a get-rich scheme. When the gold is sold and the accounts balanced, the two of them make about $30/hr.
They make jewelry from the gold they mine

Nuggets from a day's worth of work

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