Yuba Dredge No. 17 was built in 1917 and was rebuilt twice, in the 1930's and in 2006. During it's first operating period, it shut down in 1966; it came back into operation in 2008. (The dredge did nothing for the two years from 2006 to 2008, it took two years to rebuild it, or is one of the dates incorrect?) In 1936, Dredge No. 17 was listed here as the world's largest dredge.
|The Yuba Goldfields on Google Earth|
Yuba Dredge No. 21 was in operation when I visited, despite several online histories stating that all dredges ceased operation in 1968. Dredging operations did end in '68, with Dredge No. 21 being the last dredge to shut down, but No. 21 was refurbished or reconstructed and placed back into operation sometime in 1981, where it was in operation at least through 1988. I don't know if it operated continuously from 1981, when the price of gold was going up, through 1988 and beyond into the early nineties when the parent company of Yuba-Placer Gold Company, Yuba Westgold Inc, filed for bankruptcy, but this article states that it shut down (the second time) in 1999. It sank in 2003.
While at the Yuba Goldfields in 1981, we were given a tour of Dredge No. 21. A tour of a dredge is basically a tour of a floating mill. The dredge was huge and loud, and it had low lighting except where daylight shone through openings in the outer frameworks.
There are several nice online views of the outside of a bucket-line dredges, including this QTVR at the Oakland Museum of California, and this YouTube video of Dredge No. 17, from Andrew's post. The YouTube video shows nice stills of No. 17, and toward the end has the sound of an operating dredge, a noisy ruckus that could reportedly be heard for 20 miles around.
The following video shows the interior workings of the Sumpter Valley (Oregon) Dredge on the Powder River, after an ad that can't be skipped.
Video about the Sumpter Valley (Oregon) Dredge from Grant's Getaways, KGW.com, NewsChannel 8, Portland. More pictures of the interior and exterior of the Sumpter Valley Dredge and story here [now a dead link]. UPDATE 12Dec2014: This video is no longer embeddable. It can be viewed here, but the quality seems to have gone down.
I no longer have photos from my long-ago tour of Dredge No. 21, but found some interior photos of dredges scattered online here and there, listed below.
Photos of bucket-line dredges:
- Sumpter Valley Dredge, Oregon
- Sumpter Valley Dredge Images, Oregon
- Pedro Gold Dredge, Chicken, Alaska
- Gold Dredge No. 8, Fairbanks, Alaska
- ElDorado Dredge, Beechwood and Ovens goldfields, Australia
- Warren Dredge, Idaho
- The Bucketline Dredges of the U.S., Canadian Yukon & New Zealand, a Flickr group
A Few More Links:
California - Gold, Geology & Prospecting California Gold: Hammonton (Yuba River) District, how much it produced through 1968.
Placer Gold Recovery Methods Pictures and descriptions of Dredge No. 21 on pages 23-25.
Yuba Dredges were built by Yuba Construction Company, later known as Yuba Manufacturing Company, later a subsidiary of Yuba Consolidated Goldfields. A little history of the company and its many dredges can be gleaned here through careful searching and scanning; see especially the Historical Note from pages 1-2. Numerous dredges are mentioned in the list of documents that follows.