Fish wheel at Copper Center

a red fish

Red (sockeye) salmon

Saturday, June 12, 1982—rested most of the day. Sylvia helped with a spaghetti party to raise money for the Glennallen hospital. Bob Schmidt asked me to go to Chet’s fish wheel tonight. Bob and he are good friends and Bob likes to get salmon out of the fish wheel. Good of him to invite us along.

Sunday, June 13, 1982—left for the fish wheel. We stayed in a cabin there and went around the town of Copper Center. Bob got permission to use another fish wheel from a fella he knew. About 1:00 a.m., we got about 200 red salmon, all first class fish. One of the salmon was a king salmon. It was one of the first fish we got. All the way home from there, we gave lots of fish to all the neighbors. We offered them all they might want. Then Bob and Sylvia and I shared what was left. We got our share all cleaned and were sure tired that next evening. But it had been a very good day—the small mosquitoes were out today.

Monday, June 14, 1982—Sylvia canned salmon. She really is good at that, and likes to put up meat and food. I went to Dan’s for a while.

Wednesday, June 16, 1982—got a fairly late start, but got seven loads of gravel loaded and hauled to Dan’s. Fairly heavy rain. Went to see Hoffmans for a while.

Thursday, June 17, 1982—got up early to a light rain. Loaded and hauled gravel for Dan all day. Prospected in the evening. Found some very interesting gold in Cache Creek. Saw a moose swim across Snowshoe Lake.

Friday, June 18, 1982—it’s raining, but we prospected anyhow. We got farther up Cache Creek and found more gold. Tom came for his dog that had been staying with us.

Saturday, June 19, 1982—got up early, then cleaned the cabin and made more bookcases. Rodney Borders called with farm business. Andy Boyle called about a commercial fishing ad.

Sunday, June 20, 1982—got some things ready to prospect Cache Creek. Dennis, Sally and son Chris visited. Dennis and Bob Schmidt and I celebrated father’s day at KROA.

Monday, June 21, 1982—Dan and Patti Billman, Sylvia and I staked four 40 acre claims on Cache Creek—really tired tonight. We had a good fish supper.

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.