My Uncle, John Logan (left) and Slim Williams, lost and starving, stumbled into Chicken, Alaska in July 1939. This photo was taken after their first real breakfast in a month. "Too stuffed to move," John wrote on the back of the photograph. They thought Chicken was paradise. Compared to starving to death in the wilderness, it was.
Chicken looks more like an industrial dump now. I was stuck in Chicken for 5 days this spring. It felt like a month.
Yesterday, my good friend Bill Freeman pointed out that Chicken, (pop. 17) was raided. The Feds charged in to inspect federal land for pollution. The miners screamed bloody murder. We picture the gold miners as guys with beards bent over a stream with a pan in their hands.
That was a hundred years ago. 70 years ago, this machine helped make Chicken the dirt pile it is today. (There's a lot of this junk lying around Chicken.) This 3 story barge lumbered down the riverbed and chewed it all up. All of it. Modern gold mining equipment is smaller and equally destructive.
The backside of the barge. (click pic to enlarge)
Picture these buckets, bolted to the conveyer belt sticking out of the front of the barge above, 20 wheelbarrows a scoop, whirling through a river, turning everything from fish and birds nests to reeds and rocks into a muddy stone soup with a wee pile of gold on the side. Gold mining ranks right up there alongside fracking for trashing a landscape. This particular dredge was owned by a company owned by the Guggenhiems of New York City. Go gettem, Feds, I say.