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Gold Rush Part Deux unfolding in Nome

Craig Medred

The news coming out of Nome, Alaska reads like something from 100 years ago: "Five hundred tons of mining equipment is on the way to Nome with Northland Service’s first barge,'' the Nome Nugget reported this week.

This could be the early days of the Alaska Gold Rush, but it's not. This is Gold Rush Part Deux.

Thank the skyrocketing price of the yellow metal and television. There has always been gold in the beaches of the fabled City of the Golden Sands. Mining in Nome waned after the early Gold Rush but never stopped. There were always people pulling money out of the ground, which is what drew the Discovery Channel north to start filming the reality show "Bering Sea Gold." 

The show, in turn, opened American eyes to how cheaply one can get into the gold-mining business, and how well one might be able to do -- even if most miss the big payday.

The result? Another gold rush.

"Dredges, pontoon boats, ripper tables, Coachman Travel RV’s, camper vans, machinery, trucks, trailers, even hundreds of pounds of groceries are on the manifest and have left the Seattle port on Monday,'' the Nugget reported. "Northland had such high volume of cargo for the first barge that the company decided to add another barge to their voyage schedule and run a barge non-stop from Anchorage to Nome, bypassing the usual stops along the way….Marine transportation company Alaska Logistics has another two dozen dredges on their first voyage.”

According to the state Department of Natural Resources officials, a Pro-West Contractors barge is also hauling heavy machinery and mining equipment to Nome.

"Bering Sea Gold,” meanwhile, is denying responsibility for the madness. "The TV show is a faster vehicle to spread the word, but it was only a matter of time,'' executive producer Jeff Conroy told the Nugget. "We speeded up the process, but we truly wouldn’t want to impact anyone else’s lifestyle.'' He's probably right about the first, but the second is a stretch.

Let's be real, reality TV loves thrives on chaos.