Chicken（アラスカ）Wade creekの川岸に腰を据えていた大きなドレッジ(The Jack Wade Dredge)が「安全上の理由」から9月、撤去されたとのこと。
Chicken’s historic gold dredge has been demolished and dumped
By TIM MOWRY
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Published: October 15, 2007
Last Modified: October 15, 2007 at 03:15 PM
A rich piece of Alaska’s gold mining history is sitting in a dump in Tok after being demolished because the Bureau of Land Management deemed it dangerous.
The Jack Wade Dredge at Mile 86 of the Taylor Highway was dismantled last month. The abandoned dredge sat on the bank of Jack Wade Creek for 72 years and was a popular tourist attraction on the 160-mile road from Tok to Eagle.
“People loved to camp at it and to pan for gold there,” said Robin Hammond, the postmaster in the small mining town of Chicken a few miles south of where the dredge sat.
One of the first bucket-line dredges in the famed Fortymile mining country, the Jack Wade Dredge was freighted up the Fortymile River from Dawson in the winter of 1906-07.
Gold dredges were used to mine gold in rivers in Alaska on a large scale during the first half of the 20th century by scooping gravel up in front of the dredge and dumping it into sluice boxes. Water was pumped in to separate the gravel from the gold and the gravel was dumped out the back, leaving massive piles of tailings along the banks of creeks that were dredged 100 years ago.
The Jack Wade Dredge was first operated on the Walker and South forks before being moved to Jack Wade Creek in 1935 on sleds pulled by gas-driven tractors. The creek was named for the two miners who staked the first gold claims in the stream in 1892: Jack Anderson and Wade Nelson.
But the dredge, one of several that was used to mine in the Fortymile country, was shut down and abandoned in 1941, shortly after its steam engines were replaced by diesel ones. It has sat empty since.
BLM officials said the dredge had deteriorated to the point where something needed to be done and it was just a matter of time before someone got hurt. The timbers used to build the dredge were rotting, public affairs specialist Doug Stockdale said.
“It was done for safety purposes,” Stockdale said of the decision to dismantle the dredge.
An 8-foot-high chain link fence built around the dredge in 2000 did little to keep people out, he said. “People crawled all over it and didn’t pay attention to signs or fencing,” Stockdale said.
Given the condition of the dredge, moving it would have been impractical and restoring it too expensive, Stockdale said. Half the hull of the dredge was buried in creek sediment, and Wade Creek ran through part of the dredge during high water in the spring. Cables installed to suspend the booms on both ends of the dredge had been cut for safety reasons, leaving both booms on the ground.
“We decided the best idea was to demolish it,” Stockdale said.
A contractor from Anchorage, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting Inc. was hired to remove the dredge.
Several large pieces of the dredge, such as the boiler, gearing and winching machinery, trammel, handlevels and buckets, were saved and will be put on display with some interpretive signs near the post office in Chicken to highlight the historical significance of the dredge and gold mining in the region. The rest of the dredge was hauled to a landfill in Tok. There is no sign of the dredge where it used to sit.
For residents who live in Chicken, the loss of the dredge represents a missing page in the Fortymile region’s rich mining history.
Locals such as Hammond and his wife, Robin, who have been mining in the Fortymile country for 35 years, weren’t happy about the removal of the dredge.
“If they can use a few bones and restore a Tyrannosaurus rex suitable enough to display in a museum, then I’m sure they could have restored the dredge, although just leaving it as it was or cleaning it up would have been fine,” Robin Hammond wrote in an e-mail.
She and other residents in the area are grateful, however, that the BLM agreed to display the parts of the dredge that were saved in Chicken, not in Fairbanks as was originally planned.
“It definitely belongs somewhere here in the Fortymile,” Robin Hammond said. “It was an amazing piece of our gold-mining history and a real testament to the miners that came before us.” State historians would have liked to see the dredge remain in place, too, but it was ultimately BLM’s call because the dredge was located on public land, said Judy Bittner, state historic preservation officer with the State Historic Preservation Office in Anchorage.
“When an agency decides to go to removal or demolition (of historic property) we have to go to the next step, which is mitigation,” Bittner said. “It’s the agency’s call in the end.”
The state and Fortymile Mining Association worked with BLM to negotiate a memorandum of agreement to preserving parts of the dredge, Stockdale said.
“Even though it’s gone, we’re still trying to salvage a little bit of it and use it as an interpretive educational tool,” he said. Chicken resident Mike Busby, an officer in the Fortymile Mining Association, said the dismantling of the dredge was inevitable given its dilapidated condition and the fact it was so close to the road.
“It was either that or spend a gob of money to restore it,” Busby wrote in an e-mail.
Even so, Busby was sad to see the dredge removed. It is one of only a few dredges that remain in the Fortymile country, one of which, the Pedro Dredge, is at the Chicken Gold Camp and Outpost that he operates, but none was as visible as the Jack Wade Dredge.
“I hate seeing any of the few remaining connections to our local heritage disappear,” wrote Busby, who has been involved in the Fortymile mining industry for 30 years. “I am sure it will be a great shock to those who make occasional trips through this country.”