A tour of Gold Dredge No. 8. is just the ticket for an authentic look at mining life in early Fairbanks.
The enormous, awkward-appearing gold dredge was operated in the Goldstream Valley starting in 1928 and extracted 7.5 million ounces of gold before being shut down in 1959.
Fairbanksan John Reeves and his wife bought the five-deck, 250-foot long dredge, located in the Goldstream Valley, at Mile 9 on the Old Steese Highway, 16 years ago and created a tourist attraction, complete with museum tours, gold panning, a snack bar, gift shop and banquet hall. The surrounding grounds include authentic support buildings like bunk houses, parts buildings and warehouses.
Gray Line of Alaska, formerly Holland America Line-Westours, bought Gold Dredge No. 8 in the fall of 1996 and renovated the facility at a cost of around $700,000.
Cosmetic improvements for the dredge included a paint job and new glass windows. A second entrance and deck were added to the dredge, supplying better access. Old bunk houses and a bath house were moved from a former mine site, as were a parts building and warehouse from the old F.E. Gold Company camp in downtown Fairbanks. A historic rail car was also bought from the Alaska Railroad and added to the site.
The site was listed as a National Historic Site in 1984 and in 1986 was designated a National Historical Mechanical Engineering Landmark. In the spring of 2009 it became the property of The Binkley family, who purchased Gold Dredge No.8 and all of its associated attractions and facilities.
The dredge has not been a working dredge since 1059, but tours are available. For more information, visit their website.
Directions to Gold Dredge No. 8: