Antique Gold Dredge No. 8

Gold dredge No. 8 was built by the Bethlehem Steel company in 1927/28. It was shipped by railroad and ocean-going barge to be assembled in early 1928 at Fox, Alaska the head of the Goldstream Valley. 

The Fairbanks Exploration Company had acquired large blocks of already-worked claims in the gold fields north of Fairbanks, but they still believed the area contained tremendous gold deposits. Fairbanks Exploration Company’s $10 million dollar bet paid off. They set up eight giant bucket-line dredges and went to work. 

Gold dredge No. 8 was five decks high. It had a 43-foot high bow gantry, which supported the belt-driven bucket line that had 68 manganese steel buckets. Each bucket had a capacity of 6 cubic feet and weighed over 1,500 pounds. These buckets were mounted on a steel digging ladder which was more than 84 feet long. At full running capacity the dredge dumped 22 buckets per minute. This gold-laden gravel and muck was then dumped into a hopper to a belt-driven trommel screen. The heavy material and gold falling through the screens (with the occasional nugget wedging itself into the screen) while the rocks and gravel were carried away by a steel reinforced conveyor belt to the tailing pile behind the dredge.  

No. 8 operated between the years of 1928 and 1959. In all that time it only moved 4.5 miles, but recovered 7.5 million ounces of gold.

In 1984 this site was listed as a National Historic Site and was later designated a National Historical Mechanical Engineering Landmark. Gold dredge No. 8 is now a tourist attraction in Fairbanks, Alaska.