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About Us » Writers » Ron Wendt
Ron Wendt (Senior Writer)
Ron worked as a gold miner, newspaper reporter, photographer, college instructor, and writer. He was a frequent contributor to the Journal, and he published his own bi-monthly booklet on prospecting for gold in Alaska, The Alaskan Goldfield Magazine.

Ron passed away in November 2007 at the age of 51.
Articles by Ron Wendt
The Juneau Goldfields

The first time I flew into the Juneau area in southeastern Alaska, I was about 5 years old. I recall it was raining and the clouds hung low over the tall mountains. I was sure we’d crash and couldn’t see how the...

February 2008 (Vol. 77, No. 6)
The Upper Susitna Goldfields

The upper Susitna Goldfields, sometimes known as the Valdez Creek Mining District, are located 150 miles northeast of Anchorage off the Denali Highway in the Alaska Range. Though a small mining district, it was the “jewelry box” of the...

January 2007 (Vol. 76, No. 5)
The Petersville—Yentna Goldfields

Upon first entering this district in the early 70s, the trip into the Petersville area by vehicle was risky at best, especially during rainy periods in summer. The road has been improved somewhat since then, but not much.

February 2007 (Vol. 76, No.6)
Lucky Shot Mine and the Willow Creek Plutons

Once a thriving mining community, the town of Lucky Shot, Alaska,  also known as Kellyville, is nowhere to be found today. Buildings were either hauled away or burned. The snow loads of the Talkeetna Mountains crushed some of...

March 2007 (Vol. 76, No. 7)
Successful Nugget Hunting

Then it appeared. A 64-inch rack on the giant moose silhouetted against the sun. Bernie had waited for the large creature to come out into the open. He raised his bolt action Remington .338, took aim, and pulled the trigger.

April 2007 (Vol. 76, No.8)
The Seventymile and American Creek Goldfields

Author’s note: If you ever contemplate prospecting on the Seventymile River, beginning at the mouth, make sure your will is up to date, and you’ve said goodbye to loved ones. If the mosquitoes don’t get you on the way up, you’ll surely drown in the river or wear yourself out thrashing through the brush.

June 2007 (Vol.76, No.10)
The Grubstake Gulch Placers, Alaska

I’m not sure if it was the cold, clear, pure drinking waters of Grubstake Gulch and Willow Creek that have drawn me over the years, or the flat nuggets of gold I have dug out now and then. Since about 1973, I’ve extensively prospected up...

January 2006 (Vol. 75, No. 5)
The Circle Goldfields

The Circle Goldfields are located about 120 miles east of Fairbanks in Interior Alaska and they occupy about 200 square miles. The Crazy Mountains boast the highest point in the district at 3,690 feet above sea level.

February 2006 (Vol. 75, No. 6)
The Fortymile Goldfields

Having made nearly forty trips into this region over the years, the area has a tendency to draw the individual into its unique winding roads, which were once mining trails, where the creeks and rivers run to and fro across its twisted topography.

March 2006 (Vol. 75, No 7)
The Kenai Peninsula Goldfields

Half the prospecting adventures I’ve done on the Kenai Peninsula occurred in winter. Not because I enjoyed looking for gold among the ice flows or 34-degree water, but on some creeks winter is the best time to find gold after violent swirl holes slow down.

April 2006 (Vol. 75, No. 8)
The Willow Creek-Hatcher Pass Alaskan Goldfields

Having spent 33 years prospecting off and on in this area, this writer has become very familiar with the region, its mines, the gold (hardrock and placer), wildlife, weather, topography, and history—it has been a friend to me.

May 2006 (Vol. 75, No. 9)
The Livengood-Tolovana Mining District

In 1914, Livengood went from a tent city to a collection of wooden false fronted structures and log cabins. In 1962, 48 years later, our old Chevy pickup rumbled in off the gravel road. A cloud of dust surrounded us as the hot Interior sun beat down on...

June 2006 (Vol. 75, No. 10)
The Iditarod-Innoko Goldfields

To many, the Iditarod is associated with Alaska’s famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Mushers leave Anchorage by dog team and mush their huskies 1,049 miles across Alaska to Nome on the Iditarod Trail, which was also a trail...

July 2006 (Vol. 75, No. 11)
The Fairbanks Goldfields

It was once said that the Fairbanks Mining District would probably not be much of a producer. The impact of this goldfield on the mining world of the north did not start with a bang. Rather, the participants of this gold rush more or less...

August 2006 (Vol. 75, No. 12)
The Yukon-Klondike Goldfields—Part I

There has been more written on the Klondike Gold Rush than any rush in the history of the world. Some highlights have been written below, a mere grain of sand of information to glean. The price of gold during the 1890s averaged $20.67 per ounce.

September 2006 (Vol.76, No.1)
The Yukon-Klonkide Goldfields—Part II

There has been more written on the Klondike Gold Rush than any rush in the history of the world. Some highlights have been written below, a mere grain of sand of information to glean. The price of gold during the 1890s averaged $20.67 per ounce.

October 2006 (Vol. 76, No. 2)
The Nome Goldfields

Nome has a colorful history built on gold, where over 5 million ounces of the yellow metal has been dug up. Due to limited space, only a tiny fraction of this mining district can be touched upon. It would take volumes to cover all the information...

November 2006 (Vol. 76, No. 3)
The Goodnews Bay Platinum Fields

“But first and foremost you have to have the geology. With respect to the geology, the Goodnews Bay placers, which actually were won from the Salmon River drainage and its tributaries, produced on the order of 650,000 ounces,” Foley says.

December 2006 (Vol. 76, No. 4)
The Lucky Shot Mine

I hobbled around on the broken up, sorted rock pile. Watching where I stepped, I kept my eye open for quartz with a gray-blue color imbedded throughout the samples I picked up.

February 2005 (Vol. 74, No. 6)
Picks & Pans: In Search of a Vein: Looking for Hardrock in the Talkeetna Mountains

Down, down, down I plummeted into the narrow granite chute. In a matter of a few seconds, I envisioned myself lying crumpled in a field of mammoth, sharp, jagged granite rocks. In those few seconds, my thoughts also imagined my life ebbing...

March 2005 (Vol. 74, No. 7)
The Rampart Goldfields, Alaska

The town of Rampart, on the Yukon River, was established as a supply point after gold had been found on nearby Minook Creek in 1896. Rampart has been known by various names including Rampart City, Manook City, or Minook.

November 2005 (Vol. 75, No. 3)
The Koyukuk-Nolan Goldfields

It has been said by many, “One of Alaska’s most beautiful places in the world is in the Brooks Range.”  You'll get no argument from me.

December 2005 (Vol. 75, No. 4)
Picks & Pans: Winter Prospecting and "Forty Mile" Miller

It was in the mid-70s. I had just finished setting my traps out along the river when it dawned on me where “Forty Mile” Miller’s old hardrock outcrop was. Here I was, standing on snowshoes, floundering in three feet of snow, bracing myself so I wouldn’t...

January 2004 (Vol. 73, No. 5)
Picks & Pans: Nuggets by the Dozen in Alaska

Jeff Reed may be Alaska’s top nugget hunter, or maybe he’s one of many. He doesn’t get skunked too often. In the past two years, he’s estimated he’s found about 3,000 gold nuggets primarily at the...

May 2004 (Vol. 73, No. 9)
The Fern Mine

Sharp, jagged mountains shot up around me as I slowly bumped my way, in my old Chevy pickup, up the boulder strewn mining road to the Fern Mine. The Fern Mine is situated on the west side of Archangel Creek, where several other hard rock mines once operated.

July 2004 (Vol. 73, No. 11)
Where Do I Begin?

You’ve developed an interest in prospecting for gold. A couple friends have told you how much fun they’ve had looking for gold. In this article I’ll point out the pros and cons of this activity and by the end you can decide to what degree you want to pursue your search for gold.

August 2004 (Vol. 73, No. 12)
Picks & Pans: Working the Crevices

The crowbar can be a valuable mining tool. Crowbars come in all shapes and sizes. For moving large boulders and large chunks of bedrock, the longer 3½ footers work well. Then if you really get in trouble, there’s the long pry bar.

October 2004 (Vol. 74, No. 2)
Picks & Pans: Gold Prospecting on the East Fork River, Alaska

It is not my choice to be diving under the icy waters of the East Fork River in the last days of chilly January. But indeed there are a few brave souls that like to suffer, as I see it. Then again the rewards can be great. If you have the proper equipment and the...

January 2003 (Vol. 72, No. 5)
Gold Prospecting on the East Fork River, Alaska (Part III—Conclusion)

In this trip, Riley came along with Jay, and Harold came down later. We brought a six-inch dredge down to the creek. We had hoped to use it, but we didn’t.

March 2003 (Vol. 72, No. 7)
The Lengendary Lost Gold of the Headless Valley

Since 1906, when the McLeod brothers’ skeletal remains were first found tied to trees with missing heads, prospectors have been going into the Nahanni in search of elusive gold. A lot of those who lust for Nahanni gold have never been heard of or seen again.

June 2003 (Vol. 72, No. 10)
Frozen Prospects

There is one rule of thumb when prospecting for gold in Alaska: You’ll find your best pay in southern-sloped exposed ground. This is not to say there’s no gold on northern exposed gulches where the sun has trouble reaching it and limited melting occurs. It’s harder, and more time consuming, to look for easy prospects in northern exposures.

November 2003 (Vol. 73, No. 3)
The Fort Knox Mine—1,200 Ounces a Day

In years past, it was a long, mosquito infested walk through these hills, not only as a youth but also as an enthusiastic gold prospector and explorer in search of old gold mines and lost paystreaks. Hours were spent going through...

January 2002 (Vol. 71, No. 5)
The "Drumstick"

These gifts of nature are all unique to say the least. Any large nugget is an added blessing to the long toiling hours a miner puts in on his claim. Each golden clunker found is an added bonus. And each big one found will be discussed around the dinner table, or the fireplace.

February 2002 (Vol. 71, No. 6)
Mining Camp Adventures—The Collinsville-Twin Creek Goldfields

Collinsville had been the scene of several small gold stampedes. The golden paystreaks had paid well here at times, with two main creeks producing most of the gold, including a 19 ounce nugget found on nearby Mills Creek, which flowed 100 yards away from the main camp.

March 2002 (Vol. 71, No. 7)
Platinum Claims on Heines Creek

There aren’t too many workable placer deposits of platinum in the world today. Most of the platinum found is in hardrock lodes, usually mixed in the gold, silver or copper outcrops.

April 2002 (Vol. 71, No. 8)
Prospecting With Limited Equipment

There are situations where small-scale miners cannot use dredges or high bankers. This is when it’s time to join the ranks of the old timers and their use of hand methods. Back when a gold pan, pick and shovel and sluice or rocker box were the...

June 2002 (Vol. 71, No. 10)
Prospecting on the Yukon River

In my years of searching for gold, there was never a greater thrill than prospecting along the Yukon.

July 2002 (Vol. 71, No. 11)
Striking Gold

There’s a lot of luck involved when it comes to finding gold. Sometimes it’s being in the right place at the right time. Other times it’s simply by accident that discoveries are made.

August 2002 (Vol. 71, No. 12)
Hardrock Detecting

A local mining company had been mining in the Circle mining district area creeks in interior Alaska for sixteen years. Using bulldozers, drag-lines, water pumps, and large sluicing plants, the owner-operator was very familiar with the geology...

October 2002 (Vol. 72, No. 2)
Sluicing on Bedrock

My head nearly scraped the caribou horns that hung above the doorway of the old tarpaper cabin I would call home for a few days. The cabin was originally built in the early 1930s and had been dragged about 200 yards across the valley to...

November 2002 (Vol. 72, No. 3)
Dectecting Alaskan Gold Nuggets

Probably the best friend known to the Alaskan nugget shooter is the bulldozer. The bulldozer can open up a lot of opportunity for the metal detecting prospector. Along creeks and valleys where bulldozers have torn up overburden and exposed the...

December 2002 (Vol. 72, No. 4)
The Great Gold Rush of Nome, Alaska

Gold was mined in the Council Region several years before it was known at Nome, and from this vicinity the prospectors set out and made the Nome placers familiar to the world.

April 2001 (Vol. 70, No. 8)
Picks & Pans: The Gold Bullion Mine

It was here, so long ago that the Gold Bullion Mine once had a promising future. I could almost hear the old stamp mill still echoing out its rhythm, pounding rich gold ore into small pieces.

July 2001 (Vol. 70, No. 11)
Picks & Pans: Working the Ol' Paystreak

The bright yellow nugget caught my eye as I pulled the astroturf down the sluice box into the large plastic tub. I grabbed it from the mat, pretty much in shock because of its size.

November 2001 (Vol. 71, No. 3)
The Final Gold Strike of the Alaska Gold Rush—Livengood Stampede, 1914

The Livengood (pronounced with a long “i” as in alive) gold stampede was the last of the great Alaska Gold Rush. The string of gold rushes began in 1886 with the Fortymile gold strike, and ten years later with the large Yukon Klondike goldfields discovery.

December 2001 (Vol. 71, No. 4)
Gold Prospecting on Sixmile River

As part of the Hope-Sunrise Mining District, mining activity was at a frenzy in the area in 1902, when miners like Mr. S.W. Weible worked the gold rich gravels of Canyon Creek...and recovered $7,000 in gold dust.

May 2000 (Vol. 69, No. 9)
Picks & Pans: The Discovery Gulch Diggings

Cold, clear water flowed around my neck as I sat in a water hole on Discovery Gulch in Interior Alaska. I squinted up at the hot interior sun, as it seemed to be trying to mock me, frying me in it's 88 degree rays.

June 2000 (Vol. 69, No. 10)
Picks & Pans—In Search of Nome Creek Gold

My father recalled fondly his early years of flying his Super Cub into the Preacher Creek watershed in search of game and gold, landing on wind blown ridges traversed by the giant Porcupine caribou herd that frequented the area.

October 2000 (Vol. 70, No. 2)
There's Gold in Those Tailings

If you're really serious about finding gold, you must commit yourself to the search. The odds are against success if you depend upon luck.

April 1999 (Vol. 68, No. 8)
Picks & Pans: "Eye-Balling" for Alaskan Gold

The gold miner held out his hand and showed me a sixteen-ounce gold nugget, slightly coarse in texture, and resembling a biscuit. I shook my head in amazement as he pointed out the exact location of his lucky find.

May 1999 (Vol. 68, No. 9)
Picks & Pans: Koyukuk River Gold—Prospecting Alaska's Brooks Range

The water rose up in a great splash around the front of the pickup. The tires smashed into a couple of large boulders and suddenly the truck nosed down into a deep hole and bounced back out as I stepped on the gas pedal.

June 1999 (Vol. 68, No. 10)
Picks & Pans: A Pay Streak in Slate

I stared out across the Yukon River. I estimated the river at this point to be a mile wide. An occasional log floated by in the tan-colored water.

July 1999 (Vol. 68, No. 11)