Gold Dredge 8

El Dorado Gold Mine

Useful Information

Location: 1803 Old Steese Hwy N., Fairbanks, AK 99712.
From Fairbanks take the Steese Highway (Route 2) North, turn left Goldstream Road, left Old Steese Highway.
(64.938380, -147.657844)
Open: Mid-MAY to mid-SEP daily 10:30, 13:45.
Check in 15 minutes earlier.
Fee: Adults USD 54.95, Children (3-12) USD 34.95, Children (0-2) free.
Classification: MineGold Mine MinePlacer Mining
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=2 h.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Gold Dredge 8, 1803 Old Steese Hwy N., Fairbanks, AK 99712, Free: 1-866-479-6673, Tel: +1-907-479-6673. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1928 Gold Dredge 8 starts operation.
1959 Gold Dredge 8 decommissioned, mine closed.
1984 dredge opened for tours.
1994 site run by the Binkley family ./td>


This is an alluvial deposit. The weathered rock was eroded and transported down the valley. The valley has a low slope and so the sediment was deposited and filled the valley with a thick layer of sediment with a flat surface. The heavy gold particles were accumulated in depressions. The water had enough energy to transport the heavy gold on flat ground but was not able to transport it upwards from the bottom of the depression. The result are placers.


Gold Dredge 8 is a sort of mining theme park located in the Goldstream Valley of Fairbanks. It was named after a dredge, which was used to transport the loose sediments from the floor of the valley into machines which separated the gold placers from the alluvium. A dredge is a sort of floating excavator which retrieved the gold bearing sediments by pumping it with a lot of water through a metal pipe. The site is sometimes also called El Dorado Gold Mine, which is the name of surrounding open casts. This is an alluvial mine, also known as sedimentary deposit, the accumulations of the resource are called placers.

The main sight is obviously the dredge, which extracted millions of ounces of gold from the frozen Alaskan Ground while it was operating from 1928 to 1959. It is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, is a National Engineering Landmark, and the site is a U.S. Historic District. The mine tour is actually a tour through the dredge, there is no underground mine, the deposit is the loose sediment along the river. The result of the mining operations is a series of artificial lakes where the sediment was removed, and then naturally replaced by groundwater flowing through the sediment.

The site also has a museum named Living Mining Museum which is located in former mine building. It shows machinery, tools and documents from the early 20th century, and explains the entire gold mining process. It started with cleaning the land, then the frozen ground was thawed and finally the loose sediment was recovered and the gold separated. It tells stories about the prospectors called sourdoughs, which discovered the gold, and the hundreds of workers which operated the dredges during the heyday of gold mining. During the mining numerous fossils were found in the gravels, which were deposited during the ice age. This palaeontological exhibition gives an interesting insight into the animals which lived in the area thousands of years ago.

The museum also has displays on the In 1942, after the U.S. had entered the war, the War Productions Board issued Order L-208 which forced the closure of all gold mines in the United States for the duration of World War II. The reasoning was simple: mining capacities were concentrated on resources which were important for war production. But unfortunately there are not many other resources in Alaska and the miners had to look for work in other professions. After the war, very few mines re-opened, because the wage levels had increased too high for gold mining. Gold Dredge 8 was one of the few mines that did re-open. But it was shut down in 1959 because it was not profitable any more.

Of course, there are also attractions that have nothing to do with mining, such as the steam train ride and gold panning. Both are fake, but probably fun for children. We guess it's a result of the fact that the site is managed since 1994 by the Binkley family, which has run a successful sternwheel Riverboat business for over 60 years.