Large Scale Central

Sumpter Valley Dredge

Maybe you guys all know about this, but it was new to me when it came up in a chat today: the Sumpter Valley Dredge.

The way it was described to me is that this was a gold dredging operation. They created a man-made lake just big enough for the barge that holds the dredging equipment. It digs up dirt, sifting it for gold, extending the lake in “front” of it, and putting the tailings “behind” it. Kind of a traveling lake.

Nothing to do with trains but I thought it was crazy and kind of cool.

An impressive piece of mining equipment is the centerpiece of this park nestled in the town of Sumpter Valley, at the base of the majestic Elkhorn Mountain Range. Essentially a ship on dry land, the Sumpter Valley Gold Dredge unearthed the valley in search of gold, leaving piles of debris in its wake.

Sumpter Valley Dredge was the last of three built in Sumpter Valley. It ran almost continuously, 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, from 1935 until 1954. It’s estimated the dredge dug up more than $4 million in gold during its lifetime.

Yea, its pretty impressive. The satellite photos show exactly how destructive this was to the area.

There was one just like it up on Warren, ID. creek. I used to play all over it when I was a kid.
They let it go to ruin.

The dredge filed is huge.


Don’t get paranoid, :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: but I heard they let it go cuz too many kids were playing on it! :innocent:

Thanks Jim, very cool.

I remember the one we used to drive by in LaGrange, CA. It’s completely gone now. But not the torn up landscape, that’s for sure!

The way I understand it is that the dredge was built in place, and could make its own path to float on, as long as the water supply from an adjacent river was close enough. But when the ore ran out, it was just abandoned in place.

I remember also seeing an amazing model of one, maybe in the Gazette?

Yea pretty cool, wife and I visited there years ago. Shasta and Trinity counties in California have miles of destroyed landscape from these type operations. On the up side they left a lot of tailings piles and dredger ponds for free gravel and good Bass fishing. :smiley: