FAIRBANKS — When the price of gold went up in the early 1970s, a new generation of gold miners jumped on the opportunity to strike it rich. That renewed interest in mining created the second gold rush in the Circle Mining District of Interior Alaska.
“The Circle Mining District, in the 1980s, collectively with all the placer mines — a total of 92 — was the largest gold producer for placer gold mining in the United States,” according to Gail Ackels, who wrote a book about her family’s experiences on Gold Dust Creek in the Circle Mining District.
She should know. She and her husband, Del, were part of that group that also included Joe Vogler, Ernie Wolf, Ed Gelvin, Fred Wilkinson and many others. Many of those miners gathered for a special reunion earlier this month, hosted by fellow Gold Dust Creek miners Bernie and Connie Karl at Chena Hot Springs Resort.
There were more than 50 people there — some were old timers, some were young adults who grew up on those mining claims, and some were young people who tagged along to learn about the history of their own families and gold mining on Gold Dust Creek and nearby creeks.
There was actually much talk about summer pig roasts and friendships and practical jokes played on each other — and lots of conversation about heavy equipment and gold mining.