American Creek (includes California Gulch and Colorado Gulch)

Mine, Active?

Commodities and mineralogy

Main commodities Au
Other commodities Cr
Ore minerals barite; chromite; gold; hematite; ilmenite; magnetite; pyrite

Geographic location

Quadrangle map, 1:250,000-scale TN
Quadrangle map, 1:63,360-scale A-3
Latitude 65.10077
Longitude -151.17323
Nearby scientific data Find additional scientific data near this location
Location and accuracy
For this record, the site representing the American Creek placer mine is on the creek at the intersection of a tractor trail, and adjacent to an airstrip, in the southeast quarter of section 10, T. 3 N., R. 18 W., of the Fairbanks Meridian. Placer mining along at least 3 miles of American Creek is marked by tailings in sections 10, 11, 16, and 21. This site also includes areas of placer gold mining on California Gulch and Colorado Gulch.
The site corresponds to location 20 of Cobb (1972), and roughly to the site for Colorado Gulch, U.S. Bureau of Land Management MAS number 0020480070. The MAS site for American Creek, MAS number 0020480002, is 1.5 miles downstream, in section 16, T. 3 N., R. 18 W. (shown by tailings symbol on USGS Tanana A-3 quadrangle, 1953 ed., rev. 1966).

Geologic setting

Geologic description

American Creek drains the south side of Serpentine Ridge, and has been placer mined both above and below its junction with New York Gulch (TN077). The valley has an asymmetrical shape for much of its length, where the creek flows along the strike of bedding in bedrock.
Serpentine Ridge consists of serpentinite and mafic intrusive rocks that apparently intrude Mesozoic, predominantly marine sedimentary rocks, through which the stream channel cuts (Chapman and others, 1982).
Gold was discovered on American Creek in 1911 (Eakin, 1912). Depth to pay dirt was shallow (12 to 15 feet) in the upper stretches of the creek, and it quickly became a major producer in the Hot Springs mining district. Mining initially consisted of drifting and open cuts. The reports by Smith (1930) and Cobb (1977) of Ness operating a hydraulic mine in the Eureka Creek area may instead refer to Ed Ness, who operated on American Creek in 1925 and 1926 (Wimmler, 1926). Small-scale mining was reported on California Gulch (Creek) in 1932 (Smith, 1934; Cobb, 1977).
In 1927, the American Creek Dredging Company began mining downstream from just below the mouth of Colorado Gulch (Smith, 1930). Parts of the placer ground consisted of 7 to 8 feet of gravels below 5 to 7 feet of muck. The lower 4 feet of the gravels was unusually coarse, and carried gold throughout, while the upper few feet of bedrock also proved rich (Mertie, 1934). The ground was frozen and had to be thawed before dredging, which continued sporadically through 1940, when the rich ground was mined out.
A contiguous claim block varying from 33 to 108 claims on New York Gulch, American Creek (TN075), and tributaries of American Creek was worked by American Creek Partners from at least 1981 to 1992 (Alaska Kardex files). Placer development, using Caterpillar D-9 and D-6 bulldozers, took place over a 3 to 5 month period during those years. Gold production from this mining is not known. More recent work on American Creek included Orval McCormach's and Delima Placer's work in 1990 (Swainbank and others, 1991). In 1992 and 1994, Don Delima Placer, Inc., continued working on American Creek (Swainbank and others, 1993; Swainbank and others, 1995). In 1994, 40,000 cubic yards of material were mined. Ross Novak and Jay Hodges both recovered gold during the 1997 season (Swainbank and others, 1998). Hodges also mined in 1998 (Szumigala and Swainbank, 1999). In 1997, Stardust Mining, Inc., staked 14 state mining claims on Colorado Gulch near its mouth and planned to cut 50 small trenches across the gulch (Alaska Placer Mining Application F999579, Alaska Kardex files). Stardust Mining also planned to process a bulk sample of bench gravels from near the mouth of Colorado Gulch to determine the placer gold potential of the bench deposits.
According to Mertie (1934), American Creek produced $702,000 in gold, estimated by Cobb (1977) to equal about 34,000 ounces of gold at $20.67 per ounce. This included a $600 nugget recovered in 1951 (gold at $35 per ounce) (Williams, 1951). According to Waters (1934), the associated heavy minerals included magnetite, pyrite, ilmenite, barite, chromite, hematite, garnet, and one piece of tourmaline. The source of the placer gold may be quartz-carbonate veins associated with an east-trending shear zone, against which the pay streak appears to terminate (Cobb, 1981).
Geologic map unit (-151.175710221846, 65.1002669461369)
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
Gold was discovered in American Creek in 1911. Mining began almost immediately due to the shallow depth to pay dirt and the high gold content. In 1914, 30 men were reportedly working on American Creek (Brooks, 1915), and by 1919 American Creek was the second highest producer of gold in the Hot Springs district. Dredging by American Creek Dredging Company began in 1927 and continued until 1940, when the last of the rich ground was mined (Smith, 1942). About $600,000 worth of gold (at $20.67 per ounce) was mined prior to dredging, and through 1931, the dredge reportedly recovered $102,000 worth of gold (Mertie, 1934).
A contiguous claim block varying from 33 to 108 claims on New York Gulch, American Creek (TN075), and tributaries of American Creek was worked by American Creek Partners from at least 1981 to 1992 (Alaska Kardex files). Placer development, using Caterpillar D-9 and D-6 bulldozers, took place over a 3 to 5 month period during those years. Placer gold production from this mining is not known. More recent work on American Creek included Orval McCormach's and Delima Placer's work in 1990 (Swainbank and others, 1991). In 1992 and 1994, Don Delima continued working on American Creek (Swainbank and others, 1993; Swainbank and others, 1995). In 1994, 40,000 cubic yards of material was mined. Ross Novak and Jay Hodges both recovered gold during the 1997 season (Swainbank and others, 1998). Hodges also mined in 1998 (Szumigala and Swainbank, 1999). Stardust Mining, Inc., staked 14 state mining claims on Colorado Gulch near its mouth and planned to cut 50 small trenches across the gulch (Alaska Placer Mining Application F999579, Alaska Kardex files). Stardust Mining also planned to process a bulk sample of bench gravels from near the mouth of Colorado Gulch to determine the placer gold potential of the bench deposits.
Indication of production Yes; small
Production notes Total production through 1931 was $102,000 worth of gold from dredging and $600,000 in gold from drifting and open-cut mining prior to dredging (Mertie, 1934). At the fixed price of $20.67 per ounce at that time, the weights in refined gold respectively would equal approximately 4,935 and 29,025 ounces of gold. Production records are not available for the more recent mining activity.

References

MRDS Number A015193

References

Reporters G.E. Graham (ADGGS), D.J. Szumigala (ADGGS)
Last report date 5/6/2004