From 1940 to 1952, the dredge worked the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River recovering $1,200,000 worth of gold. This seems to be not the best return on investment as the dredge cost $428,000 to build. The tour was fascinating with lots of signs and knowledgeable volunteers to answer any questions. Here is a sign explaining the process.
For those inquiring minds out there, I'll add a few more signs.
The whole dredge was anchored by and pivoted on this 55-foot long, 17 1/2 ton 'spud.'
One volunteer, who used to work on a dredge in Alaska, told us this is one of only two dredges in the lower 48 states. Ron and I have also toured the one in Oregon, but it's not as complete.
The tailings did leave a shocking mess as shown in this aerial view. I wonder what they did for a road before they built it on top of the tailings.
No matter what you think of the effects on the environment and scenery, the dredge is a fascinating piece of Americana. I'm very grateful to the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge Association, who, in 1979, and with the help of donations and the Forest Service, prepared the dredge for tours.
Within a couple miles are the ghost towns of Bonanza and Custer. I'm not much for ghost towns, but Custer is nicely preserved. This was the blacksmith building in Custer.
From there, we continued to follow the Salmon River to Bayhorse Creek BLM campground which was the first time we paid for almost a month. It was tough, but we shelled out the $5 a night. While there, we followed the host's recommendation to drive up a 9-mile dirt road to pretty Bayhorse Lake.
It was really a shame Ron didn't think to bring his fishing equipment. There were a few fishermen there just catching trout one after another. The lake is stocked and we could see fish jumping as we walked around.
We made a couple more stops on our way north out of Idaho. The first was at a fishing access along the North Fork of the Salmon River where a scope was set up to look for sheep on the surrounding cliffs. Pretty cool, but we didn't see any.
Ron decided to try a little rod and reel fishing. Still nothing big enough to keep.
The sunset was startling. It really was this red.
Meanwhile, little 4-year-old grandson Harper fished for the first time and hit the jackpot!
Now he wants to go fishing with Grandpa.