Saturday, October 3, 2015

Crow Creek Gold Mine

OK, I was going to make this my last blog post about Alaska but I have too many photos to share in one post.  This will be the next to last post.

The Crow Creek Mine is just outside the town of Girdwood a few miles up a dirt road.   The Winner Creek flows through and it's not too far from the end of the Winner Creek Trail we hiked the day before.  We got to spend a couple hours there and had a great time meeting the owner and some of the people who worked there.  They were busy taking down a tent, lights, chairs, and tables after a wedding.   Turns out having your wedding at a historic gold mine is pretty popular in Alaska.

We also learned that the owner is a musician and loves bluegrass music.  When he learned where we were from he asked about ETSU and their Bluegrass Degree program.  People all the way in Alaska know about ETSU and bluegrass.

A young lady was there helping take down the lights.  When we got there she told us all about meeting President Obama a couple days before.   Her brother-in-law is in the Secret Service and got her in to the group that greeted The President when he arrived at the Anchorage airport.  She said she shook his hand and started to blubber like a little girl.   It was fun to hear her story and see how excited she was.

Rather than tell you about the mine, I'll use the owners description from their website -

There's gold in that stream!
"Established in 1896, Crow Creek Mine was one of the largest producing hydraulic placer gold mines in South Central Alaska and today is Alaska’s most popular recreational gold mining area. No exact records are known  that tell the true tale of exactly how much gold was taken from this mine, but estimates put it around 700 ounces a month during peak production. When the commercial mining operations came to a standstill around World War II, many believed that more gold remained in the creek than had ever been mined out of it. The Toohey Family, owners/operators since 1969, strive to preserve not only the rich history and beautiful natural scenery of Crow Creek Mine, but also the gold resources within its claims so that many for years to come can experience the same thrill that the prospectors enjoyed when they first arrived at Crow Creek. Nestled among the Chugach Mountains, Crow Creek Mine offers a unique blend of historical buildings, antiques, rare mining equipment, beautiful gardens, amazing wilderness scenery, hiking trails (including the Historic Iditarod Trail), and access to the explore the mines’ original claims. These claims are still producing gold to this very day and with a little work and a bit of luck, you might be quite surprised to find that you too can catch “gold fever”."
Dinner At Crow Creek Mine

This is not your typical tourist "pan for gold" attraction where they might put some small nuggets in a stream.  It is a real working gold mine.   The owner told us about several people who either make a living or supplement their income by panning for gold in the creek.

When the mine was in full swing they used high pressure water to blast away the rock and soil and direct the sediment to a sluice where the gold was separated.  They blasted away whole hillsides and created a man made canyon.   Here's an illustration from wikipedia that will give you an idea of what this looked like. They had one of the old water canons there but I didn't think to get a photo.

We didn't pan for gold, but we did find some fun photographs in this historic site.  I love old rusty, decaying stuff and this place had it in abundance.

The owner loves flowers and decorates the area with a variety of flora. He had already begun winterizing and had taken many of his plants to a greenhouse to live out the winter.   They live here year round, but it does get a bit harsh.  He told us they can get 20 feet of snow!

Old and New

Most of the old building were originals from the end of the 19th century.   They were fun to photograph from the inside and outside.
Reflecting Pond

He had a couple old trucks out on the grounds.  You can see the old Ford pickup reflecting in the pond.

A fun place to stop and visit.  If you go, check them out.

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