The Dredge on Klery Creek

Kiana Travel Blog

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Klery Creek in the Baird Mountains.
  

Gold was discovered on Klery Creek in 1909. Copper, lead, and tin were also found - all mined primarily by hand methods. A small dredge was skidded up there on winter's ice around the 1920's and assembled somewhere upstream from where it now rests. Most of the gold recovered from the creek was fine and flaky and  the largest nugget reported weighed 8.5 ounces.  Through 1931 total production was estimated at 31,300 ounces. The dredge on Klery Creek ceased operation in the early 1960's and some of the elders in Kiana claim that the mother-lode was never found. My imagination soared and I had the time and place to let it.

 

Joe landed on an open patch of snow and dropped me off for the day.

The abandoned dredge.
Surly there are a few flakes or nuggets remaining - stirred fresh by nearly fifty years of summer thaws. With snow and sheets of ice still melting, the creek level flowed too high to get into without waders (preferably well-insulated) which I lacked. After checking out the area for bear droppings, I made random scoops with my black gold pan into the creek-side gravel, into the tailings from the dredge, and into the adjacent hillside. All to no avail. After  several hours of moiling in the muck, my gold fever subsided and I walked over to the dredge to enjoy the sack lunch which Shelly, our camp cook, packed for me. 

 

It was a little eerie exploring the abandoned structure. There was no telling what animal nested in the man-made, easily accessible shelter.

The many levers used to control the dredge.
Wolves or wolverines would be deadly and could pounce from any of its darkened nooks and crannies. Slowly and silently  creeping through the dredge, I thought of the Caveman from the Geico television commercial and felt a short shot of adrenalin. As I eased my way up creaking wooden steps one of them gave way and crashed to the steel floor. I was able to hang onto an upright beam and continued to an upper level - cursing myself, for if there were sleeping predators they were now wide awake and probably quite angry.

 

On the upper level I found the pilot house. An array of levers protruded from the floor to control a ghastly number of pulleys, drive wheels, and conveyers. The levers stood before a large wall of windows which over-looked the conveyer of heavy buckets that scooped rock and gravel from the creek. The stillness of the old dredge made it easy to imagine the echoing thunder of clunking, grinding, pounding, and shuddering that the contraption would have generated as it shook gold from creek-bed rocks and gravel.

rotorhead85 says:
Thanks,nwnanni! It would be fascinating to hear your grandfather's stories. This dredge was certainly a highlight of my summer!
Posted on: Dec 16, 2011
nwnanni says:
My grandfather owned that dredge and I used to love listening to him talk about being up there - he just loved it. My brother and my cousin got to go up there with him one summer. I have never seen photos and it is real exciting to see these pictures - just as beautiful as grandpa said it was
Posted on: Dec 16, 2011
SolitariusI says:
Great place to explore!
Posted on: Aug 26, 2007
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Klery Creek in the Baird Mountains.
Klery Creek in the Baird Mountains.
The abandoned dredge.
The abandoned dredge.
The many levers used to control th…
The many levers used to control t…
Conveyor of buckets.
Conveyor of buckets.
Kiana
photo by: rotorhead85