Gold Mining in Nome, Alaska

Gold Mining in Nome, Alaska
One of the most famous gold rushes in American history was in Nome, Alaska. The coastal mining town is located remote Western Alaska along the beaches of the Bering Sea. The original discovery of gold came during the summer of 1898 when rich placer deposits were found along the banks of Anvil Creek. This was just the beginning, and soon amazingly rich gold deposits were found along the beaches of the Bering Sea, making Nome one of the few locations around the world where beach sands can be mined profitably on a commercial scale.

The history of Nome reflects a pattern similar to most other mining towns around the world. Early discoveries in the region brought thousands of men to search the beaches, but within a few years the richest deposits were exploited, and most of the prospectors moved on within a few years. The original town site has burned down and few of the original structures remain in Nome, but the community has certainly sprung back.

Today, a combination of tourism and high gold prices has made the mining town of Nome, Alaska a thriving community once again. Both recreational and commercial gold miners can be found here every summer in search of gold. The Gold Prospectors Association of America operates a well-known gold adventure at Cripple River which has been in operation since 1982. Many people have taken this trip, and it is a great way to explore Nome and access some rich ground that you can prospect for gold.

As with any area, it is advisable for any recreational prospector to do the proper research to learn about areas that are open to you, and which areas are under claim. Much of the accessible land is claimed up and not open to general prospecting by the public, so be sure know the area that you are prospecting. The high price of gold, along with several high profile television shows about mining in Alaska, there has been much renewed interest about mining in Alaska. While this is great for the hobby, it also requires that prospectors understand the rules and regulations pertaining to it. Conflict between recreational prospectors and leaseholders can be avoided with proper communication and research of the rules.

There are many ways to prospect for gold in Nome, Alaska. There is still gold to be found in the sands along the beach, extending for several miles along the Bering Sea. Gold within the sand is known to be extremely fine, so using the proper methods for fine gold recovery will make a huge difference in your success. Of course, gold is not evenly distributed along the beach, so explore different areas to try and find concentrations. Areas that show a high percentage of black sands are likely to have good gold concentrations.

Miners can also find gold out in the ocean, offshore from Nome. Most operators use huge suction dredges and vacuum up gravels off the floor of the ocean in search of gold. Many of the commercial mining operations in Nome are done using this method, but be aware that this is a significant undertaking with high costs. The smaller dredges that are commonly used in the lower 48 states will not work in this environment; these dredges must be custom built to operate on a boat and be able to handle the waves and transport a crew of miners .Claims extend out into the ocean as well as the shore, so you must be sure that you are mining in an area that is not under claim just like you would have to if you were on land.

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The Fairbanks Gold Rush

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There are also prospecting opportunities inland from Nome, in several of the rivers and streams that feed into the area. These waterways are the source for the gold that is found along the beaches, and rich placer deposits can be found here. As you move inland, the potential for finding large nuggets is higher, and there are several areas near Nome that have yielded some huge nuggets over the years.

Nome is a fascinating town that is an awesome place for prospectors. If you plan on visiting the area, be sure to do your research and find areas that are open to recreational prospecting. The area is still extremely rich in gold, but with most of the land under mineral claim, finding an area that you can prospect for gold can be challenging. It is highly recommended that you contact the Alaska Department of Natural Resources for further information about recreational prospecting in Nome.