Gold Mining at Moore Creek, Alaska

Moore Creek is an important gold producing area in Alaska. The creek has a long history of gold mining that dates back to the start of the 20th century. For over 100 years, considerable quantities of gold have been recovered from this remote part of Alaska. Some exceptional gold nuggets and specimens have been found at Moore Creek.

Mining History at Moore Creek

Gold was first discovered up Nevada Gulch, which is a tributary of Moore Creek in 1911 and the first claim on Moore Creek was staked in the same year. The discovery of gold in the creek brought in more gold miners and mining was being done in earnest within a year of the discovery. Most of the shallow gold deposits were mined by open cut scrubber and hand tool techniques in the initial two decades of operation.

Although there were plans for a bucket line dredge as early as 1913, it was never brought it. Only a dragline dredge, one of the first in southwest Alaska was brought into the creek in 1927 to help advance gold exploration and mining.

By the 1930s, motorized placer gold mining equipment with draglines ruled gold mining in the area. The dragline stacked tailings in straight and regular tailing heaps up to six meters high in the creek's valley.

The first churn drill mining in the Moore Creek basin was initiated by the UUUR&M Company in the mid-1930s with the main aim of creating space for large scale dredging. Mechanized gold mining in the state continued up to 1986 having produced about 53,990 ounces of gold.

Most of the gold produced in the creek was between the 1930s and 1955, with 1937 being the most productive year, given that about 6500 ounces of gold were produced in that year. Most of the gold was mined by the Moore Creek Mining company.

Metal Detecting at Moore Creek

After 1986, much of the mining activities were concentrated recovering gold nuggets from the tailing piles and recreational gold prospecting along the creek. Much of the gold mining done in the Moore Creek is by small-scale recreational miners. This thanks to a new kind of tourism that has been growing in Alaska for the past few decades, where metal detector operators pay for access to claims in hopes of finding large gold nuggets.

Several historical gold mines in Alaska allow recreational gold prospectors to try their luck at finding their own gold nuggets, but Moore Creek is one of the few that truly offers a reasonable chance of finding a huge “once in a lifetime” sized gold nugget. Large pieces of gold weighing over a pound were found by metal detector operators at Moore Creek. Most of these are large specimens of gold with quartz that were missed by the old dredging operations.

This new tourism offered huge advantages to both the owners of the mines and the guests. Guests have the chance to find their own gold nuggets while enjoying the beautiful Alaskan wild. The fees paid by the detectorists help the mines pay expenses.

The Moore Creek Mine offered excellent facilities to recreational miners. Unfortunately the pay-to-mine portion of the mining at Moore Creek is no longer taking place. Gold mining is still taking place at Moore Creek though, and there is no doubt that considerable gold remains to be found in this rich region of Alaska.

Additional Reading about Gold Mining in Alaska:

Gold Mining in Nome, Alaska

Fairbanks, Alaska Gold Rush

Gold Nuggets at Ganes Creek