“the place to do some dredging for gold”
The Yankee Fork Gold Dredge is located in the central mountains of Idaho on the Yankee Fork tributary of the Salmon River. The Yankee Fork is close to the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area. The nearest town, Stanley, is 22 miles from the dredge. In 1939 the Silas Mason company out of New York was looking for a place to invest some money to help out the economy. After doing some surveying they picked Yankee Fork valley as a place to do some dredging for gold. It was estimated that there was 11 million dollars of gold to be had in the 5 1/2 mile claim. They then contracted with Bucyrus Erie to build the dredge. All the material came from Milwaukee by railway to the town of Mackay then loaded on trucks and made the difficult journey to construction site. The pontoons and superstructure were built in Boise and trucked over Galena summit to this location. Started on the 1st of April 1940 and finished on the 24th of August 1940. The dredge is 988 tons, 112 ft long x 54 ft wide x 64 ft high and has a draft of 8 ft. It has seventy-one (71) 8 cubic foot buckets; each one weighs a little over a ton. The dredge is powered by two (2) Ingersoll-Rand diesel engines each producing 350 HP at that elevation. Tours of the dredge have changed in the last few years. Originally it was a fully guided tour for however many visitors were on site at the time. Depending on the volunteer guide you could get a very "technical" tour which many in the group might not want. Also it was very taxing on the volunteers, who are usually senior citizens. A full tour usually took from an hour to hour and a half. Leading three to five tours a day was extremely tiring for the volunteer. A few years ago we initiated a self guided tour. We made some safety upgrades and tried self guided tours for the last 3 weeks of that season. It was an overwhelming success. Those that wanted to know everything about the dredge asked questions of the volunteers and those that wanted to read the interpretive signs at leisure did so. And some people just wanted a quick walk through. The way tours are conducted now accommodates any level of tourist curiosity. Your adventure starts on the "front deck" and continues into the "winch room" where a modest tour fee is collected. Continue upstairs through the "resistor room" and finally 34 stairs and 4 stories up into the "control room." A volunteer is on hand to answer any questions and possibly provide some details on how the dredge worked as well as duties of its workers. Then on to the "rock ejector, bull gear, trommel, and spud" before descending a stairway down to the "stern oiler position." The "sluice boxes" are next, then down to the main deck and the "gold collection station." You won‘t want to miss the two huge diesel engines before the last station, the "save all." That ends the equipment part of the tour which brings you to the Picture Gallery.
This is a great, educational way to spend a bit of time on a weekend camping in the area. Highly recommend:)
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Yankee Fork Dredge
- Sun - Sat: 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
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