Gold Mining in Nevada City, Montana

Ever wonder what it would be like to travel back in time? What would it be like to live 150 years ago?

All you have to do to find out is travel to Nevada City and Virginia City in Montana, and you’ll know all about it.

Nevada City and Virginia City are both ghost towns from the mid-1800’s. When gold was discovered in Alder Creek, people rushed to the area to try and strike it rich. Of course, most of those people didn’t find much gold at all but altogether the whole crowd managed to find between 30 and 60 million dollars in gold. In time, the gold rush was over and the miners moved on to seek their fortunes in other streams, but the towns they left behind are very interesting today.

A typical building from the gold rush days.

After most of the miners left disappointed, companies arrived with dredges to look for gold. In the Alder Creek Valley, there were five dredges.

Dredges in sizes ranging from a number 2 (the smallest) to a number 16 (the largest) worked the stream and managed to take out between 150 and 200 million dollars in gold!

Dredges work by using a whole string of buckets to drag along the bottom of the stream and dig up bucketfuls of dirt and rock.

The gravel, which contains the free gold, are then dumped into a revolving screen called a trommel. In the trommel it is washed and the oversized gravel is dumped behind the boat with conveyor belt called a stacker.

The gravel which contains the free gold is funneled into sluice boxes where the gold sinks to the bottom where it can be gathered. Gold is much heavier than the other rocks, so it is fairly easy to gather once the lighter sand and gravel is washed away.


These buckets dig gravel from the bottom of the stream.
The gravel is emptied into this sluice box.
Dredging machinery.
The dredging leaves behind huge piles of gravel.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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