Recently during a trip to the Yukon I visited a dredge. Previous to this I had no idea what a dredge even was. This was a fascinating tour that was full of history. So for anybody like me who might be wondering what a dredge is it is a machine that scoops objects out of a river bed. In the case of Dredge #4 it was used to dig for gold and it is now a National Historic Site located at Claim #17.
Dredge # 4 sits in the location that it stopped operating in 1959. Dredge #4 was built in 1912 for the Canadian Klondike Mining Company and it began working in 1913. It dug its way upstream in the Klondike Valley and eventually sunk in 1924 only to be refloated in 1927. It produced 800 ounces of gold in a day on Claim 67. It eventually sank again and the company was not able to financially refloat it again. The dredge operated from May to late November and it was operating 24 hours a day except for repairs and to clean out the sluices.
The dredge is very slow moving. To get an idea how slow Dredge #4 moved it took approximately 18 years to travel 13km! It was explained to us on our tour that the dredge moved in water but it was water that was supplied around it and it was not operated in the actual river. So it travelled in body of water of its own making. It produced massive amounts of rock that have been left in piles.
Dredge #4 was excavated and moved over to higher ground during the summers of 1991/1992. When you visit the site you can see where it was that Dredge #4 sank because the hole left from excavating it has formed a small pond off to the side of the dredge. The dredge had a large amount of mud in it and when you tour the inside you can see lines on the walls marking how high the mud was (well over my head at 5 foot 3).
By Shari Marshall – 2018