Often described as a mechanical gold pan, Gold Dredge No. 8 is a historic gold mining site that is home to a ladder dredge that operated from 1928 to 1959 under the Fairbanks Exploration Co. During this time, the dredge played an important role in Tanana Valley’s mining industry.
Starting in the 1920s, water was brought to the area via a ditch for gold mining, and the Goldstream Dredge No. 8 cut a track from which it would digest gravel and separate it from the gold as it worked the gold fields. Interestingly, Gold Dredge No. 8 helped save mining in Fairbanks, as when all gold mines were forced to close during WWII, Gold Dredge No. 8 was one of the few that re-opened after the war ended. It continued to run successfully until 1959 when it closed due to economic reasons. In 1986 the dredge was named a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and in 1984 became a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, visitors can enjoy a self-guided tour of the historic attraction. You’ll hop aboard a replica of the narrow-gauge Tanana Valley Railroad and enjoy a narrated train ride to the dredge. Your first stop will be the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which is responsible for 15% of Alaska’s domestic oil production. Next move on to the highlight of the visit, Gold Dredge No. 8, which was responsible for pulling millions of ounces of gold from the frozen ground. Along with learning about the history of the dredge, you’ll have the opportunity to pan some gold for yourself and see a sluice box demonstration.
Fresh baked cookies, coffee and hot cocoa are complimentary for tour-goers. Tours run daily from 10:30am and 1:45pm. Admission is $39.95 for adults, $24.95 for children three to 12 and free for children under three. Reservations are not required but are recommended.