|A large gold nugget from the Klondike gold rush.|
There's Gold in These Hills
Alaska's public lands are abundant in mineral resources from Au (gold) to Zn (zinc). It was gold that first focused world attention on Alaska. After the California gold rush in 1848, prospectors began working north along the Rocky Mountains, eventually reaching Alaska. They found gold near Sitka in 1872 and at the present site of Juneau in 1880 – sixteen years before the famous Klondike strike!
The rush was on. From Juneau, prospectors spread out into Interior Alaska, making discoveries in the Fortymile County (1886), in the White Mountains near Fairbanks (1893), in the Canadian Klondike (1896), in Nome (1898), and in Iditarod (1908).
Platinum added a special luster. Discovery in 1926 on the Seward Peninsula, the platinum at Goodnews Bay is today the largest domestic source of this metal, used in electronics, dentistry, and in corrosion-resisting alloys.
Gold mining is still important in Alaska. To date, more than 32 million ounces of it have been mined. At today’s prices, that much gold would have been worth $12.5 billion, making it Alaska’s most valuable non-energy commodity, according to statistics compiled by the State of Alaska.
Check out our classic film Frozen Gold and see what gold mining was like in Fairbanks in 1949.