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Placer Mining Regions of Alaska

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Apart from the privately owned mines (which are inaccessible to the average prospector), the state of Alaska is rife with smaller placer mines with many miners continuing the enterprise over several generations. Placer mining averages around 74,360 Troy ounces annually which is close to 8% of Alaska’s total gold production.
Rich gold mining districts are found in virtually all parts of the state.

All of this gold was found within 50 miles of Fairbanks, Alaska. A small-scale placer miner recovered these using a loader and a trommel. The bigger nuggets weigh about 1/2 ounce. Not pictured is roughly 100 ounces of fines that were also mined this season also. ~$20,000 value pictured.

There are many rich gold areas on the Seward Peninsula. The best known are the famous beach placers of Nome. While most of the gold found in the sand at Nome is fine textured, nearby Anvil Creek just west of town has produced some massive gold nuggets over the years! Gold was first discovered around these parts in 1898 by the “Three Lucky Swedes” and since then over 3.6 million ounces of gold has been recovered from the area.

There are also many rich mining districts a few hundred miles southeast of the Seward Peninsula along the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers. The Kuskokswim Gold Belt is described as broken belt of gold bearing rocks that have the reputation of producing large nuggets and considerable gold.

This map shows the distribution of major gold mining districts in Alaska.

Some of the better known mining districts in this belt are the Fortymile and Iditarod districts. Two areas in this region that are well-known for producing large gold nuggets are Ganes Creek and Moore Creek, both of which have been popular destinations for gold prospectors using metal detectors.

Chicken Creek is another gold rich destination in this area where gold was discovered way back in 1896. Gold panning and placer mining is popular around Chicken. Recreational miners have reported finding multi-ounce nuggets in this area with nice nuggets continuing to be found.

Jack Wade Creek Gold Panning Area runs along the Taylor Highway just a few miles north of Chicken. There are several miles of creek that are unclaimed and open to panning, sluicing and metal detecting. This is another area that can produce some really nice nuggets if you put in the time. Running a good metal detector over the old tailing piles can be very productive.

Further inland, many gold bearing areas are found on the Yukon Traveling upriver toward the Klondike. Rich placers are found around Fairbanks in the Yukon and Tanana River basins and on the Chena River. The gold discoveries near Fairbanks were discovered as late as 1902, and are considered to be the last great gold rush in America.

Some of the biggest gold nuggets to come out of Alaska were from Anvil Creek at Nome. Pictured here are 3 of them… a 97 oz., 100oz., and 182 oz. nugget. The values represented are based on a gold price that is just a fraction of what it is today. The gold value alone would be around $1/2 a million dollars! On the collectors market the 3 nuggets together would probably sell for closer to $1 million!

Plenty of gold has been found in the area around Cook Inlet in South-central Alaska. The Kenai Peninsula, Cache Creek, Willow Creek, and Valdez Creek are some of major gold districts around Cook Inlet and Anchorage. A lot of big nuggets have been found here too.

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