Nadia was awed by the sights

plane wing and view of glacier

Nadia’s first small plane ride. She was scared, excited, and in absolute awe all at the same time. ~Photo courtesy of Lee Austin

Tuesday, June 29, 1982—up early and went to Dan’s to move a fuel tank. That was a heck of a job too, but we got it moved to a new position. The women helped, just like we did.

Nadia called from Seattle. She’s coming up to see us. Dan flew Patti, Sylvia and I to Fire Lake at Birchwood to meet Nadia. She came in on the plane and a lady (Billman’s relation) picked her up and drove her to Fire Lake to Dan’s plane. After Nadia got here, Dan took off with the plane. He wanted to show Nadia things on the way. It’s over a 130 miles of flying from Fire Lake. He showed us moose, swans and salmon, the trap cabin, and Old Boot Lake. He would have flown us up the Nelchina Glacier, but as he rounded the corner to go there, he met winds that he did not want to fly in. As a smart pilot, he did not go there. We then went for pizza and had Dan and Patti with us.

Wednesday, June 30, 1982—went to Dan and Patti’s and loaded the stand for a gas barrel and moved it from their old place. This was a 500-gallon one. We moved it down to their new property and put the tank up on this stand. Then we went to KROA and then the Ranch House and had supper. We came home early. Really a nice evening, we sure enjoy having Nadia here.

Thursday, July 1, 1982—slept late and then loaded the dredge, went to Cache Creek and I showed Nadia how the dredge is set up and worked and how to pan gold with it. We ran the dredge but didn’t get much gold at all. Then we went to Ken and Jackie’s for supper and to see how the pump repair was coming along. It’s a real nice day and Nadia had a good time—and we with her.

Friday, July 2, 1982—up early and took Nadia to Anchorage for the plane. Sure wasn’t much traffic on the streets of Anchorage at 3:00 a.m. Did lots of research for prospecting at Coghill while in town that day. Got some parts, gas and grub, got home at 8:30 p.m. and went to Dan’s and called Ken about the Cat pump repair.

The 1980 Nelchina Gold Rush

a pick and shovel

Norman’s mother in California saw the story on the news.

Monday, February 25, 1980—the US Geological Survey people are going to announce the location of a gold discovery in the Nelchina basin tomorrow morning—the gold rush is on! We found out the gold is near the Nelchina Glacier. Dan’s brother, Denny had done some scouting in Anchorage and gained some other information that was helpful to us. The plan we had, Dan was going to fly us out and land us with his ski plane on the glacier.

Tuesday, February 26, 1980—Mike and I loaded our gear in the plane and we had some claim stakes. Dan stayed and helped with the measuring while Mike and I walked about 13 miles on snowshoes. That night, Dan flew in. It was getting quite dark and maybe -20°. Dan had Henry along and Henry was throwing out our duffle bags and sleeping bags and more stakes. When this stuff landed in the snow, it would get buried, so Mike and I hurried to where the drop area was and pulled everything on top of the snow that we could find. The star reflection on the snow gave us enough light that we could find them once they were up on top of the snow. There was one bundle of stakes we couldn’t find, but we did find our sleeping bags and grub. We dug another snow cave, this one smaller, for two people. Mike fixed supper that night. We didn’t have too bad a night, it was cool, but it was alright.

Wednesday, February 27, 1980—Dan flew in the next morning, and we staked six, forty acre claims. Then National Geographic and NBC News from Los Angeles California took pictures of us from their helicopter. My mother in California saw our pictures on the TV news. There was one helicopter (we didn’t see this happen, but were told later) tried to land and one skid went through the snow crust and damaged the helicopter. Then there was a light snowfall, but Dan was able to beat the darkness and fly us out to the Nelchina Lodge.

Saturday, March 1, 1980—worked on year end bookwork. Got gear ready to go back to Nelchina Glacier. David Harding from NPR Radio in Anchorage interviewed all of us here at Nelchina Lodge about the gold rush.

Sunday, March 2, 1980—got up very early and Dan flew Henry and me to the Nelchina Glacier and we re-staked these claims and staked six more. It was a long day on snowshoes. At one time, I was walking ahead pulling a hundred foot steel tape. Henry was behind me and as I’m snowshoeing along, I suddenly hear the sound of running water. This is not good! I hollered at Henry and I very carefully walked backwards on my snowshoes. The Nelchina River runs out of the glacier winter and summer and I had walked right over where it was flowing. I had no idea how far it was to water, but I wasn’t going to stay and find out!

Monday, March 3, 1980—we filled out the papers to file on the 12 claims. Dan, Mike and I went to Glennallen to file the claims.