After our city tour, they took us to "Gold Dredge #8". The dredge is actually a big barge, fastened to a pivot point in the bottom of the river bed. One end of the barge has a belt of buckets which are extended to eat into the river bank, scooping dirt and sending it through a series of baffles to catch the gold nuggets and flakes. Once its eaten all the bank it can reach, its moved to another spot. Of course all this stopped years ago, and this one is just left as a tourist attraction.
We got to do some gold-panning ourselves. Between us, we managed to get $13.50 worth of flakes, which we had put into a little locket necklace for Ellen. Surely makes a unique souvenir.
Had a "miners lunch" at the dredge, which was basically beef stew in a bucket, served family style, along with biscuits and blueberry cakes. Not all that great, but I expect it was a good deal better than what the real miners actually ate.
That evening we ate in the hotel restaurant, which was marginally OK. The most interesting part of the evening was our conversation with our "water girl" (not waitress) who was from Slovakia. As we later learned, many young people from eastern European countries, usually college students, come to Alaska for summer jobs. I imagine theres some sort of recruitment program run by Holland-America or somebody to get these people. Interestingly enough, the kids have to pay their own way, round trip. We also learned that the hotel was closing for the season two days after we leave.
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