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Goldstream Dredge No. 8

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The Fairbanks Exploration Company's Dredge No. 8 went into operation at Goldstream Creek 11 miles north of Fairbanks in 1928. In the next thirty years, it moved only 4½ miles, yet it shifted tons of earth and recovered 7.5 million ounces of gold. The dredge itself, five stories high, remains virtually unaltered from when the operation shut down in 1959. The site is open to the public.

The dredge is essentially a metal clad, floating building of utilitarian design. The Bethlehem Steel Company manufactured the dredge in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It was then shipped across the country by train and floated to Fairbanks and assembled. The structure of the dredge is steel framed, with metal siding on wood studs. Sixty-eight buckets, each with a capacity of 6 cubic feet, scooped schist and brought it on board. The schist was placed in a trommel, a perforated cylinder, which rotated. Smaller pieces fell out into sluice boxes, where water caused excess particles to float and gold to sink, catching on riffles. The gold was finally picked up with a mercury amalgam.

Processed schist was expelled out the back of the dredge into tailings piles. Powered by electricity generated in Fairbanks by the United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company, which owned the Fairbanks Exploration Company, the dredge floated in its own pond and moved by means of winches in a zigzag pattern. Eight people were required to run the dredge, which operated for about eight months of the year, three shifts a day. Six more people worked on the ground, preparing the area to be dredged by removing overburden with hoses and melting permafrost with cold-water thawing. Core samples were taken to aim the dredge.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland


What's Nearby


Alison K. Hoagland, "Goldstream Dredge No. 8", [Fairbanks, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Alaska, Alison K. Hoagland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 228-228.

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