Orion's Photos: places - Alaska - Chatinika - 2004

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Layla and I visited the Chatinika gold dredge, north of Fairbanks, Alaska on this hot sunny Sunday, June 20 2004.

We took the Steese up, past the NOAA downlink and command station [0033] and through the old mining tailings on the river valleys [0035]. The dredge is right across from the Chatinika Lodge.

The dredge itself is still sitting in the hilly tailings of its own life's work [0036-0037]. The entrance is a small pile of scavenged junk [0042-0043]. The interior is one half ancient warehouse, one half rusting barge.

In [0036-0037], the intake dredge [0050-0051] is visible on the right, held by a giant steel boom [0052-0053,0083-0084] that makes up the front half of the ship. Giant dredge buckets on the intake dredge pull up raw ore from the bottom of the lake.

The center of the ship is built around a huge (rotating?) cylinder [0073,0088] through which the ore passes. The windows [0046] are made from worn-out sorting plates, rectangular plates full of holes that sift the paydirt out of the cylinder. The paydirt drizzles out of the cylinder into a series of riffle plates [0093], which catch the gold.

Larger waste rocks (and any gold nuggets larger than about half an inch!) go out the large exit conveyor [0074-0075,0089] at the back, which is held in place by a higher, smaller set of booms [0095-0096].

There's a belt-driven drill press [0062,0068,0069] in the machine shop. Giant electric motors [0064] power everything on the ship. Floor-mounted train switches [0070,0072] direct the action from the control room. A tree is growing from the top of the intake dredge [0094].

It's sure a weird, post-apocalyptic piece of industrial junk, rusting away in the Alaska wilderness.

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All images taken by Orion Lawlor and placed completely in the public domain.
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