NRHP Nomination for the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge

For the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, HRA completed a National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) nomination for the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge, in Custer County, Idaho. HRA’s architectural historian conducted research in Challis, Idaho, in the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge archives at Land of the Yankee Fork State Park, and in the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge Association archives. The dredge is a Bucyrus-Erie heavy duty, bucket-line placer dredge, possibly the most intact bucket line placer dredge in situ in Idaho. The structure is significant under Criterion A, at the state level, in the area of Industry, for associations with gold mining in Idaho. From 1940–1953, dredge operations extracted over $1.02 million worth of gold from the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, which employed hundreds of workers and supported the small local communities. The dredge is also eligible under Criterion C, in the area of Engineering, as an unusual example of placer mining technology. The dredge embodies the distinctive characteristics of a bucket-line gold dredge, with typical features including the bucket-line ladder, stacker ladder, gantry cranes, trommel, sluices, winches, hoists, engines, and pumps, and also exhibits evolutionary changes designed for the difficult environment of the Yankee Fork, which included immense boulders. The dredge’s period of significance is 1940–1953, the period of construction through the last year of operation. The dredge retains integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, and feeling. The dredge retains its distinctive form, rooflines, siding, windows, steel superstructure, pontoon hull, gantry cranes, bucket-line ladder, covered stacker, spud, tail sluices, and nearly all of its operating machinery and interior equipment.

Though no longer used for placer mining, the dredge continues to impart its significant contributions to the Yankee Fork Mining District’s heritage through educational tours. The dredge was listed in the NRHP on June 17, 2021.