Alaska's Gold Rush History
By Viator, August 2013
Alaska has a rich Gold Rush heritage. For those home-basing in Juneau, it is easy to explore this part of the state’s history. Panning for gold in Gold Creek and visiting Last Chance Basin Mine is one great option for exploring the area’s Gold Rush history. Best of all, you get to keep any gold you find. The two attractions are right next to each other, so it’s easy to explore both in one visit. Gold Creek is where Richard Harris and Joe Juneau, led by Tlingit Chief Kowee, discovered gold in 1880, marking Alaska’s first big gold strike.
Taking an Alaskan Gold Discovery: Gold Mining and Panning at Gold Creek from Juneau Tour is a convenient way to enjoy this experience, especially as you’ll have a knowledgeable guide to give you historical information and deal with getting the necessary permits. Your guide will dress in 19th-century clothing to make the experience more authentic, and will teach you how to gold pan to give you an idea of what it was like during the Gold Rush. Bonus: You’ll get an Orelove Brothers Gold Claim Certificate for the gold you find.
If you’d like to add some local food fare onto your Gold Rush experience, a Gold Panning and Salmon Bake Tour allows you to pan for gold before sampling fresh seafood from a traditional salmon bake. You’ll enjoy grilled salmon, Cheechako chicken, Chilkoot baked beans, Tongass wild-rice pilaf, White Pass pasta, fire-roasted marshmallows and more.
There are also a number of museums that can introduce you to Alaska’s Gold Rush history. For example, the Last Chance Mining Museum and Historic Park resides in the former compressor building of the Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Company, which was in operation from 1916 to 1944. At the museum you’ll see locomotives that transported gold miners, old mining shafts, industrial machinery, mineral collections, and more. Knowledgeable docents are on hand to answer questions and give interesting information. The Alaska State Museum also features an exhibit on the Gold Rush, along with displays on indigenous culture, the state’s Russian heritage, historic ships, to name a few of the many collections. Additionally, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum houses an exhibit on the early gold mining days and sometimes feature events like gold panning explorations.