Pioneer Creek

Mines, Inactive

Alternative names

including Doric, Boothby, Seattle Jr., Skookum, Joe Bush, and North Fork creeks

Commodities and mineralogy

Main commodities Au
Other commodities Hg; W
Ore minerals barite; cinnabar; gold; ilmenite; magnetite; pyrite; scheelite; titanite

Geographic location

Quadrangle map, 1:250,000-scale TN
Quadrangle map, 1:63,360-scale A-1
Latitude 65.18942
Longitude -150.18426
Nearby scientific data Find additional scientific data near this location
Location and accuracy
This record represents several placer mines on Pioneer Creek and some of its tributaries, including Doric, Boothby, Seattle Jr., Skookum, Joe Bush, and North Fork creeks. The site is at the junction of Pioneer and Doric creeks, in the west half of section 10, T. 4 N., R. 13 W., of the Fairbanks Meridian.
The site corresponds to location 41 of Cobb (1972), and to U.S. Bureau of Land Management MAS numbers 0020480100, 0020480050, 0020480044, 0020480039, 0020480029, 0020480031, 0020480041, 0020480063, and 0020480043. The nearby site for Gold Run Creek, MAS number 0020480028, is incorrect.

Geologic setting

Geologic description

The area of Pioneer Creek (including its tributaries) is underlain by Cretaceous or Jurassic sandstone, siltstone, and shale (Chapman and others, 1982; Reifenstuhl and others, 1998). Pioneer Creek follows the trace of a fault, and all of the placer gold deposits are north of this fault. No intrusive rocks are mapped nearby. Yeend (1990) described four terraces at Eureka Creek (TN130), with the best-developed one at 250 feet above the present channel of Eureka and Pioneer creeks. Yeend (1990) also hypothesized that ancestral Eureka and Pioneer creeks flowed southwest toward Tofty during the Pleistocene and joined the ancestral Tanana River farther west than the present channel.
Mining on Pioneer Creek and its tributaries began in 1902 (Collier, 1903). Most of the gold reportedly was mined, not from Pioneer Creek itself, but from benches on the northwest side of the creek or from secondary reconcentrations on the tributary creeks that cut across those benches (Mertie, 1934). Gold was discovered in 1902, just southwest of the mouth of Doric Creek. According to Eakin (1913), this site, locally named What Cheer Bar, was typical of the bench deposits, and consisted of quartzite and conglomerate gravels 3 to 10 feet thick. This, the richest bench, is approximately 250 feet above Pioneer Creek and 2,000 feet to the north. Mertie's (1934) description of the bedrock included pyritized sandstone, slate, and phyllite. Waters (1934) reported that two placer concentrate samples contained picotite, ilmenite, pyrite, zircon, gold, sphene, barite, magnetite, garnet, scheelite, cinnabar, and tourmaline.
Hess (1908) described the bedrock at the Doric Creek mine as slate, grit, and quartzite that strike N70E and dip steeply north. Brooks (1907) reported mining on Boothby and Skookum creeks in 1906. Chapin (1914) described mining on Seattle Jr. Creek. Hydraulic mining by J.R. Frank Co. on Doric Creek and What Cheer Bar in the late 1920s was one of the principal operations in the Eureka area. Mining on some or all of these creeks continued until 1940, after which there is a hiatus in published reports of activity.
In 1967, Strandberg Mines, Inc., held active mining claims on Boothby, Doric, Pioneer, and Skookum creeks; Frank & Co. were active on Doric, Seattle Jr., and Pioneer creeks; and claims were active on North Fork and Skookum creeks (Heiner and others, 1968). in 1975, John Cole ran a bulldozer on Skookum Creek (plotted location looks closer to Eureka Creek), and Mary Sue Mines ran a bulldozer on placer claims in Skookum Creek during (Carnes, 1976). In 1991, Ross Novak finished mining on the Pioneer bench (Bundtzen and others, 1992). From 1990-92, Rick Swenson operated on Doric Creek (Swainbank and others, 1991; Bundtzen and others, 1992; Swainbank and others, 1993). In 1992, Rick Swenson and partner Ross Novak open-cut mined on Doric Creek during a 110-day season. In 1997, Rick Swenson mined again, as did Salter and Associates (Swainbank and others, 1998). In 1990-91 and 1993, Salter and Associates mined gold on Joe Bush Creek (Bundtzen and others, 1992, 1994), where the biggest obstacle to mining was 6 feet of blue clay just above the pay gravels. The clay was removed carefully in order to preserve the gold. In 1995, Salter and Associates trenched on Joe Bush Creek, and Kelley Mining Company mined North Fork Creek (Bundtzen and others, 1996). In 1998, Salter and Associates mined on Joe Bush Creek (Alaska Kardex files).
Official production figures are not available for Pioneer Creek. As of the fall of 1904, Hess (1908) reported that production from Doric Creek , Eureka Creek (TN130), and associated bench bars was around $85,300, estimated by Cobb (1977) to have equaled 4,125 ounces of gold. Cobb also estimated that many tens of thousands of ounces of gold were mined from the Pioneer Creek area.
Geologic map unit (-150.186744047657, 65.1889433532726)
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
Mining on Pioneer Creek and its tributaries involved both open-cut and underground drift mining. Gold prospects, identified in 1902 (Collier, 1903), were mostly on benches or on tributaries of Pioneer Creek (Prindle and Hess, 1905). By 1905, What Cheer Bar had been identified, and within a couple of years references were being made to mining on Skookum and Boothby Creeks as well as on Doric Creek (Brooks, 1907; Hess, 1908). References to mining on Seattle Jr. Creek were made starting in 1913 (Chapin, 1914). Hydraulic mining by J.R. Frank Co. on Doric Creek and What Cheer Bar in the late 1920s was one of the principal operations in the Eureka area. Mining was reported to have continued until at least 1940, after which there is a hiatus in published reports of activity.
In 1967, Strandberg Mines, Inc. held active mining claims on Boothby, Doric, Pioneer, and Skookum creeks; Frank & Co. were active on Doric, Seattle Jr., and Pioneer creeks; and claims were active on North Fork and Skookum creeks (Heiner and others, 1968). In 1975, John Cole ran a bulldozer on Skookum Creek (plotted location looks closer to Eureka Creek), and Mary Sue Mines ran a bulldozer on placer claims in Skookum Creek (Carnes, 1976). In 1991, Ross Novak finished mining on the Pioneer bench (Bundtzen and others, 1992). From 1990-92, Rick Swenson operated on Doric Creek (Swainbank and others, 1991; Bundtzen and others, 1992; Swainbank and others, 1993). In 1992, Rick Swenson and partner Ross Novak open-cut mined on Doric Creek during a 110-day season. In 1997, Rick Swenson mined again, as did Salter and Associates (Swainbank and others, 1998). In 1990-91 and 1993, Salter and Associates mined gold on Joe Bush Creek (Bundtzen and others, 1992, 1994). The biggest obstacle to mining was 6 feet of blue clay just above the pay gravels. The clay was removed carefully in order to preserve the gold. In 1995, Salter and Associates trenched on Joe Bush Creek (Bundtzen and others, 1996), and in 1998, they mined there (Alaska Kardex files).
Indication of production Yes; small
Production notes Individual production figures are not available for this group of placer deposits. As of the fall of 1904, Hess (1908) reported that production from Doric Creek, Eureka Creek (TN130), and associated bench bars was around $85,300, estimated by Cobb (1977) to have equaled 4,125 ounces of gold. Cobb also estimated that many tens of thousands of ounces of gold were mined from the Pioneer Creek area.

References

MRDS Number A010744; A015221; D002619

References

Heiner, L.E., Wolff, E.N., and Lu, F.C.J., 1968, Mining regions and mineral commodities, in Heiner, L.E., and Wolff, E.N. eds., Final Report - Mineral Resources of Northern Alaska: Mineral Industry Research Laboratory, University of Alaska Report No. 16, p. 3-137.
Reporters G.E. Graham (ADGGS)
Last report date 12/10/2000