Alaska Gold Rush History and Genealogy


Nome Alaska Mining District



US Geological Paper 610

The Nome district is in the south-central part of the Seward Peninsula between lat 64 °25' and 64 ° 57' N. and long 165°00' and 165°30' W. More than half the gold mined on the peninsula has come from Nome placers. The brief summary that follows was abstracted from Brooks' (in Collier and others, 1908, p. 13-39) detailed history of mining on the Seward Peninsula. Soon after the discoveries of placer gold at Council in 1897, placer gold was discovered on the Snake River near Nome and a short while later on Anvil Creek, Snow Gulch, Glacier Creek, and other streams. Miners streamed into the area from Golovnin Bay, and the Nome district was formed in October 1898. A great rush to the new district took place in 1899 and a still greater one in 1900. The new town was bursting, and the known placer grounds could not accommodate all those who sought gold. The unrest thus created led to claim jumping and general lawlessness which taxed the small military garrison to the utmost. With the discovery of rich beach placers in the district, this unhealthy situation was relieved somewhat in. that a large new area was available for prospecting and the miners were diverted to gold mining instead of preying upon one another. After 1900, the population stabilized somewhat and with additional discoveries of deep gravels and buried beach placers, the district settled down to a long period of economic stability and orderly growth. Production of the district from 1897 through 1959 was about 3,606,000 ounces of gold, almost all production was from placers. Data are lacking for 1931-46, so that the total given is a minimum. Cobb (1962) reported small but undisclosed production from scattered lode claims in the district. The Nome district, one of the major producers of Alaska, was active in 1959. The Nome placers are of several varieties-residual, stream, bench, and beach; Moffit (1913, p. 74- 123) discussed these in detail, and his work is the source of information in the summary presented here. Residual placers, produced by the solution and erosion of less durable components of bedrock, have been mined profitably at a few localities, particularly·at Nekula Gulch. Stream placers are gravels that contain gold that was removed either directly from bedrock or from older gravels that contained gold. Important among the stream placers are those on Anvil Creek, Dexter Creek, and other tributaries of the Nome and Snake Rivers. The high bench placers are remnants of deposits of an older drainage system. Present streams have eroded away most of these deposits, so that only benches remain. Such placers occur at the head of Dexter Creek and have been profitably mined. Rich placers occur in sands of the present beaches and in older beaches that were elevated above present sea level and then buried in coastal plain deposits. Five or six ancient beaches are known and have been given local names. The second and third beaches (the present beach is the first) have been the most productive. Structures of two ages are identifiable in the metamorphic bedrock (Hummel, 1960). The older and major set consists of large north-trending folds of Mesozoic age transected by younger east-trending folds of Tertiary age. The younger system is also characterized by three sets of faults. Some of the minor faults and joints of the younger defor- ALASKA 19 mation are mineralized, and these lodes are probably the source of the gold in the Nome placers.

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