Sunday, August 13, 2017

Fairbanks Gold Mining Tour

What did I know about the Alaska gold rush of 1896-1899? - Zilch. Nothing. Nada. In my mind, the famous gold-rush was vaguely associated with California, or the Black Hills of Dakota... The words "gold rush" brought to my mind cowboys, stagecoaches, and the like. I didn't even remember that Jack London's novels The Call of the Wild and White Fang had anything to do with the Klondike gold rush. I assume -- or at least hope -- that my American cousins aren't as ignorant as I was on this subject.

cute toy-like train
Not that I'm such a maven now. But the few hours we spent on this "fun" mining tour, complete with cute toy-like train, charming folk-singer, huge gold-dredging machinery,
gold-dredging machinery

and hands-on gold-panning, were an eye-opener. Later to be enhanced by further forays deeper in Alaska. In the pic below you'll see our new friends, Elaina and Andy, on the left; Stuart on the right, his pan hiding his wife Susie's face; and my Michael behind Susie.
Panning for gold. Really!

Just so's you know, panning for gold takes a lot of patience, not to mention strong wrists and eagle eyes. Those teensy bits of gold are swimming among grains of sand, dirt and tiny pebbles. If you persevere, you actually end up with a few dollars' worth of gold! Which the friendly plaid-shirted staff of the huge souvenir shop nearby will be only too happy to "exchange" for you for a silver or gold-plated souvenir locket which costs thrice as much as your newly-found gold. But those are the rules of the game, of course. Mind you, if you covet one of those dainty lockets -- and I myself am quite a sucker for romantic lockets -- you don't have to go fetch the gold yourself... You can go to the website of Gold Dredge 8, Fox, Alaska, and order your gold-bits locket online.

What can I say -- it's all about fun and entertainment. I'm not complaining; after all, I'm here on vacation, to relax and enjoy while exploring new territory, widening my horizons, picking up some general knowledge, and making new friends. All the same, it's worth reminding oneself that the real gold-diggers led a very tough life, and only a fraction of those who left everything behind for the prospect of gold, actually found any.
reconstructed gold-miner's room
 I may look cozy and comfortable sitting on the bed in the reconstructed gold-miner's room, but I can't vouch for how the laborer felt. He was probably too tired to feel much of anything.
Nina in gold-miner's "room"
Next stop: Riverboat trip

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