Sumpter Valley Dredge

There's Gold in Them Thar Hills!

One of the new resources we recently added to our page is the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Reading about the history of gold fever in Alaska and Seattle made me think back to our summer trip through Oregon to Idaho. We encountered other evidence of gold mining activities in the Pacific Northwest.

The area we visited is about 750 miles from Seattle, so you won’t likely make it in a weekend if you live in the Puget Sound, but plan a trip for summer (these visitor centers are closed in winter).

We couldn't stop there, but we passed Sumpter, Oregon, home of the Sumpter Valley Dredge, on our way to the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River.

In Idaho, we visited the Yankee Fork Dredge, still sitting where it was abandoned in 1954. We learned about the salmon restoration project taking place there, after dredging destroyed the stream bed for spawning so long ago.

We learned how little gold was actually mined there. We also visited two ghost towns in the area, both established to hunt for gold in the early days of the Gold Rush, established before the dredge came to town.

Here are the questions that came to mind as we wandered the dusty hills, looking at the remains of communities which were so busy at one time.

What was it like to live in these remote places in the late 1800s abd early to mid-1900s, brought here simply to hunt for a resource?

What can happen to the environment in situations like these, where only a few people are responsible for deciding how to use the land? Is your life today affected by those decisions made long ago? Why do you think this?

The Sumpter Dredge was successful in getting a large amount of gold out of the ground. The Yankee Fork Dredge was not. Interesting to consider when we think about that cry: There's gold in them thar hills!