Click each photo to greatly enlarge it
The Pedro Dredge, originally owned by the Fairbanks Exploration Company (FE Co.),
a subsidiary of the United States Smelting Refining & Mining Co. (USSR&M), was built by the Yuba
Manufacturing Company in California, and was shipped to Pedro Creek north of Fairbanks in 1938.
It was assembled there, and operated until 1958. The following year it was disassembled,
trucked over the Alaska and Taylor Highway to Chicken, Alalska and reassembled over a 3 month span. The dredge commenced operations on lower Chicken Creek in
September and worked approximately five months every year thereafter until October 1967, when
it produced its final cleanup.
The 3-cubic-foot dredge (measurement of the bucket capacity), the smallest in
the FE Co.'s fleet of 8 behemoth gold mining machines, mined over 55,000 ounces of gold in the eight years on Chicken Creek, equivalent to roughly 65-70
million dollars in gold at modern prices.
In 1998, after sitting idle for 31 years, the million pound dredge was moved one mile in one piece, on a trailer
constructed in place, to the Chicken Gold Camp & Outpost. It was moved a short distance again in 2009, floated
to it's present location. The dredge was opened to the public in
August 2005. It is the most complete bucket line gold dredge open to the public in Alaska and
perhaps North America. Adjoining the dredge and throughout the Gold Camp/Chicken RV park, an outdoor Mining Museum with an assemblage of historical gold rush
equipment and buildings, including a vintage machine shop, can be viewed for free. Gold panning is available at stand-up troughs under the
stacker of the dredge, and modern recreational mining is provided on historic gold producing claims nearby.
The Grand Opening of Pedro Dredge was held in 2006; tours are now offered daily
throughout the season. In June 2006, years of work were rewarded when the dredge was
listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For much more information on our dredge, see Mike's article at
ExploreNorth. A great deal of other information about Northern
gold dredges and mining generally, can also be found from the links on that page.