Preserving the past

The Yankee Fork Gold Dredge

The Yankee Fork Gold Dredge is one of the best preserved and presented dredges in the lower 48 states.  It was donated to the U.S. Forest Service by J.R. Simplot in 1966, and in 1980 the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge Association began providing guided tours to the public.  
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History

1.hirez.IMG_2235-1600Thank you for exploring our web site! We hope after browsing you will come visit us in person to tour the dredge, view our picture gallery and discover our gift shop. If you have journeyed to our dredge before, we encourage you to re-discover us. In the past few years we have made several changes and you may find a new appreciation of the dredge.   The Yankee Fork Gold Dredge is located in the central mountains of Idaho on the Yankee Fork tributary of the Salmon River. The Yankee Fork is close to the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area. The nearest town, Stanley, is 22 miles from the dredge.   Yankee Fork Dredge Aerial ViewIn 1939 the Silas Mason company out of New York was looking for a place to invest some money to help out the economy. After doing some surveying they picked Yankee Fork valley as a place to do some dredging for gold. It was estimated that there was 11 million dollars of gold to be had in the 5 1/2 mile claim. They then contracted with Bucyrus Erie to build the dredge. All the material came from Milwaukee by railway to the town Yankee Fork Dredge Aerial farof Mackay then loaded on trucks and made the difficult journey to construction site. The pontoons and superstructure were built in Boise and trucked over Galena summit to this location. Started on the 1st of April 1940 and finished on the 24th of August 1940.
The Yankee Fork Gold Dredge is one of the best preserved and presented dredges in the lower 48 states.
The dredge is 988 tons, 112 ft long x 54 ft wide x 64 ft high and has a draft of 8 ft. It has seventy-one (71) 8 cubic foot buckets; each one weighs a little over a ton. The dredge is powered by two (2) Ingersoll-Rand diesel engines each producing 350 HP at that elevation. Yankee Fork Dredge Black and White photoThe dredge ran from 1940 to 1952 stopping once from October 1942 until 1946 for WWII and then again in 1947 when Snake River Mining Co (Silas Mason) decided they were not making enough money and put it up for sale. In 1949 J.R. Simplot and a partner in mining, Fred Baumhoff, bought the dredge for $75,000 and started it up again in April of 1950. In 1952 Simplot ran out of original claim so leased a small section from the Morrisons; when they completed that section they shut the dredge off and walked away. Later in 1953 Morrison ask them to remove the dredge, or pay rent as the dredge still sat on their claim, and so Simplot's men started it up and dug themselves to the current position where it has sat ever since.   Yankee Fork Dredge Inside Black and white photoThe Yankee Fork Gold Dredge is one of the best preserved and presented dredges in the lower 48 states. It was donated to the U.S. Forest Service by J.R. Simplot in 1966, and in 1980 the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge Association began providing guided tours to the public.   The tours are self guided so you can stay as long as you want and explore the dredge at your leisure. We have volunteers stationed around the dredge to answer your questions that you might have and also as safety feature.   Yankee Fork Dredge buckets bwAt the end of the tour you will be able to browse through our new picture gallery which has pictures of the dredge being built, running and the restoration. Also pictures of the men that worked on the dredge, wives that lived in camp and the kids that grew up on the Yankee Fork. Also we have some original documents that are very interesting to browse through and we have a few artifacts that have been donated.   Yankee Fork Dredge winches bwWe also have a new gift shop that was built in 2007. The old gift shop is now the picture gallery. The dredge is owned by the Forest Service but is run by the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge Association which is a group of volunteers. The board of directors actually has 3 directors that are children of a worker on the dredge. Two of those act as guides during the summer.

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Dredge Statistics

Dredge Built: April 1, 1940 Began Operating: August 1940 Last Ran: June 1953 Amount of gold extracted: $1,023,024.89 Amount of silver extracted: $14,298.00 Largest Spud in Idaho: 17.5 tons View Full Specifications
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