Challis-Yankee Fork Ranger District - Yankee Fork Dredge

Yankee Fork Dredge

In the early 1930's several placer miners joined together to form a company to see if they could get someone interested in dredging their claims on the Yankee Fork. Twenty-nine claims were involved.
During 1938 and 1939, the Silas Mason Co.of Shreveport, Louisiana became interested. When tests indicated approximately $16,000,000 worth of gold was recoverable, they formed a subsidiary, the Snake River Mining Co., to manage the dredging. The Bueyrus-Erie Company was awarded a contract to build the dredge in 1939 and completed it in the fall of 1940. The Olson Manufacturing Company manufactured most of the steel work in Boise, Idaho. The parts were shipped by train to Mackay, then hauled by trucks to Yankee Fork and assembled in 1940.

Location Map of Yankee Fork Gold Dredge

Yankee Fork Dredge DrawingFrom 1940 until it closed in August of 1952, the dredge dug out rock and recovered gold by washing and separating the rock, dirt and gold. The Snake River Mining Company operated the dredge for several years until it reached a rock dike below Bonanza in 1949. At that time they sold it to Mr. J.R. Simplot and Mr. Baumhoff who operated the dredge until 1951 when Mr. Simplot purchased his partner's interest. The dredge was then operated until 1952 when it ran out of mining claims on which to work. The dredge has not been operated since 1952 and it remains the largest self-powered dredge ever to operate in Idaho.