Chicken Creek

Mine, Active

Commodities and mineralogy

Main commodities Au
Other commodities W
Ore minerals gold; scheelite

Geographic location

Quadrangle map, 1:250,000-scale EA
Quadrangle map, 1:63,360-scale A-2
Latitude 64.0744
Longitude -141.9293
Nearby scientific data Find additional scientific data near this location
Location and accuracy Chicken Creek is a small north tributary that drains south-southwest through the town of Chicken into the Mosquito Fork of the Fortymile River. Placer tailings on Chicken Creek are shown in two locations on the U.S. Geological Survey 1:63,360-scale topographic map of the Eagle A-2 quadrangle (1956; revised 1971). The lower tailings extend approximately 1.5 miles upstream from the mouth of Chicken Creek. The upper tailings start near the intersection with Stonehouse Creek and extend down tream for about 1 mile. The coordinates correspond to the town site of Chicken, located approximately 1 mile upstream from the mouth of Chicken Creek, in section 32, T. 27 N., R. 18 E., of the Copper River Meridian. This site is locality 81 of Burleigh and Lear (1994), locality 17 of Eberlein and others (1977), and locality 51 of Cobb (1972 [MF-393]).

Geologic setting

Geologic description

Chicken Creek is a major gold producer in the Fortymile mining district. Chicken Creek flows through a high-angle-fault-bounded, structurally down-dropped basin that preserves a wedge of Tertiary gabbro and sedimentary rocks (Werdon and others, 2001). Intra-basin high-angle faults are rarely exposed in outcrop but are inferred from the distribution of the geologic units, stratigraphic relations, and airborne resistivity and magnetic data (Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys and others, 1999). These faults juxtapose blocks of Tertiary gabbro against Tertiary sedimentary rocks, which include sandstone, conglomerate, shale, tuff, coal, and chert(?) that contains fragments of petrified tree stems. Quaternary alluvium and colluvium deposits are extensive in the Chicken Creek valley; they largely consist of gravel and lesser silt and sand, overlain by muck. Placer gold mining of these sedimentary deposits has exposed numerous Pleistocene mammalian fossils, including mammoth, horse, caribou, and bison (Pinney, 2001). Many Quaternary terrace gravel benches of possible glaciofluvial origin occur as high as 600 feet above the creek (Pinney, 2001). The structural basin is bounded to the south and east by the Taylor Mountain batholith of Triassic age, and to the north and west by upper Paleozoic greenschist-facies metasedimentary and metavolcanic rocks (Foster, 1969; Werdon and others, 2001). In the headwaters of Chicken Creek, upper Paleozoic greenschist-facies metasedimentary and metavolcanic rocks are in high-angle fault contact with the Chicken pluton of Jurassic age to the north.
Placer gold deposits on Chicken Creek extend for about 3.4 miles from Stonehouse Creek to the Mosquito Fork. Above Stonehouse Creek, Chicken Creek is in a deeply incised narrow valley; below, the gradient is more gentle and merges into the flats of Mosquito Fork (Mertie, 1938). The gravel mined in 1905 on Chicken Creek was 6 to 45 feet thick, and the gold was found on top of bedrock (Prindle, 1905). In the lower half of the valley, the gravels are 40 to 50 feet thick. Most of the mining below Myers Fork was along the west side of the Chicken Creek valley, 150 to 1,000 feet west of the creek. In 1928, most of the mining took place on a bench 500 to 1,000 feet west of Chicken Creek (Mertie, 1930 [B 813-C). In 1936, gold was found on bedrock, and the pay streak was 100 to 200 feet wide, frozen, and 20 to 38 feet deep (Mertie, 1938). Chalcedony occurs in the gravels (Spurr, 1898).
The gold in Chicken Creek is about the size of chicken feed (corn), hence the name of the creek (Spurr, 1898). The gold generally did not occur in large nuggets, and some pieces were attached to quartz. Four samples of gold produced in 1935 from Chicken Creek at the mouth of Stonehouse Creek (see EA122) averaged 835 parts of gold per thousand and 158 parts of silver per thousand (Mertie, 1938). Placer scheelite was found but it was scarce (Joesting, 1943). In 1977, the placer gold that was being recovered was characterized as bright and 3 to 4 millimeters and consisted of flattened flakes with only slightly rounded edges (Eberlein and others, 1977). The largest nuggets were about 1 pennyweight and had quartz attached to them. The coarsest piece of gold found as of 1936 was 0.5 ounce (Mertie, 1938).
Placer gold on Chicken Creek was discovered in about 1896 (Mertie, 1938). Prospecting occurred in 1896 (Spurr, 1898), and intermittent mining has taken place from about 1899 to 2001. Gravels have been mined from both the active stream and bench terraces about 275 feet above the creek. In 1907, the only active mining was at the head of the creek, where gold was discovered in gravel on the Last Chance bench (Prindle, 1908; Prindle, 1909). Placer gold has been mined by drifting in the early years, hydraulic mining, dredging, and other methods (Burleigh and Lear, 1994). Dredge mining took place in 1967, and small-scale mining occurred throughout the late 1960s (Foster, 1969 [B 1271-G]). The dredge is currently (2001) being used as a tourist attraction and is located just south of the Taylor Highway in the town of Chicken.
Gold was first produced in commercial quantities in 1899 (Brooks, 1900). In the early 1900s some ground ran as high as $2.50 in gold per pan (Foster and Keith, 1969). Placer gold production from the Chicken Creek basin in 1903 was worth about $100,000 (Prindle, 1905). In 1905, the ground being mined averaged about $1 per square foot of bedrock (Prindle, 1905). Mining during the winter of 1908-1909 and summer of 1909 yielded $16,000 worth of gold (Ellsworth, 1910). Mining during 1914 yielded between $15,000 and $25,000 worth of gold (Brooks, 1915). All production of gold was valued at $20.67 per ounce.
In 1905, Prindle (1905) reported specimen gold in calcite veins in shale overlying a dark, fine-grained porphyritic rock. In 1908 he also reported that near the head of Chicken Creek, gold occurs in thin calcite veins associated with pyrite-bearing quartz veins in black Paleozoic phyllite (Prindle, 1908). These reports may either refer to the Purdy lode mine (EA121) or an unnamed prospect northeast of Stonehouse Creek (EA162). Chicken Creek has several placer gold-bearing tributaries, including Myers Fork (EA124) and Stonehouse Creek (EA122).
Geologic map unit (-141.931579728627, 64.0740718391395)
Mineral deposit model Placer Au (Cox and Singer, 1986; model 39a).
Mineral deposit model number 39a
Age of mineralization Quaternary.

Production and reserves

Workings or exploration Placer gold on Chicken Creek was discovered in about 1896. Prospecting occurred in 1896 (Spurr, 1898) and intermittent mining has taken place from about 1899 to 2001. Gravels have been mined from both the active stream and bench terraces about 275 feet above the creek. In 1907, the only active mining was at the head of Chicken Creek, where gold was discovered in gravel on the Last Chance bench (Prindle, 1908; Prindle, 1909). Placer gold was mined by drifting in the early years, later hydraulic mining, dredging, and other methods (Burleigh and Lear, 1994). By 1953, Fairbanks Exploration Company purchased most of the mining claims in the Chicken Creek drainage and began preparation for dredge operations (Burleigh and Lear, 1994). The Pedro #4 dredge operated from 1959 to 1967 in Chicken Creek. Small-scale mining occurred throughout the late 1960s (Foster, 1969). In 1977, hydraulic mining processed present stream and bench gravels about 200 feet above the present creek (Eberlein and others, 1977).
Indication of production Yes; medium
Production notes Gold was first produced in commercial quantities in 1899 (Brooks, 1900). In the early 1900s some ground ran as high as $2.50 in gold per pan (Foster and Keith, 1969). Placer gold production from the Chicken Creek basin in 1903 was worth about $100,000 (Prindle, 1905). In 1905, the ground being mined averaged about $1 per square foot of bedrock (Prindle, 1905). Mining during the winter of 1908-1909 and summer of 1909 yielded $16,000 worth of gold (Ellsworth, 1910). Mining during 1914 yielded between $15,000 and $25,000 worth of gold (Brooks, 1915). All production of gold was valued at $20.67 per ounce. Production in 1904-1907 that included that from Myers Fork (EA124), Lost Chicken Creek (EA131), Stonehouse Creek (EA122), and Ingle Creek (EA111) totaled about 18,835 fine ounces (Eberlein and others, 1977).

References

MRDS Number A010755; A015155; D002690

References

Boswell, J.C., 1979, History of Alaskan operations of United States Smelting, Refining, and Mining Co., Fairbanks, Alaska: Mineral Industry Research Laboratory, University of Alaska - Fairbanks, 126 p.
Brooks, A.H., 1900, A reconnaissance from Pyramid Harbor to Eagle City, Alaska, including a description of the copper deposits of the upper White and Tanana Rivers: U.S. Geological Survey Twenty-first Annual Report, p. 331-391, plate 2.
Reporters M.B. Werdon
Last report date 5/1/2002