Alaskan 'Gold'

| August/September 1995

The old water pump and tank

The old water pump and tank, Monarch Gold Mine, Crow Pass. The pump's pulley wheel is about 5' in diameter. Flywheels are visible half-buried to the left.

By Jesse Brumberger

286 Farmview Drive Macedon, New York 14502

It was just before dawn on a cold and clear October day as I started the climb into Crow Pass in the Chugach Mountains. Being in Alaska, it was already at winter's doorstep and daylight was becoming limited. My plan for day was to climb along a high rocky stream prospecting its pools and eddies for gold particles. Finding no trace of 'color' but plenty of treacherous 'Vergas' on the rocks, I beat a path through some miserable, thorny scrub until emerging at the timberline. The amended plan was now to ascend the valley, check out the known gold-bearing Crow Creek higher up and possibly ascend one of the minor summits above the valley to scope for wild life all of this before my turnaround time of 1:00 p.m. to allow ample daylight for the descent.

About three miles farther up, where the piles of screen yielded to snowy alpine tundra, I saw a vertical shape very hard to judge in such terrain and I had to walk another quarter mile before realizing that this was NOT an outhouse!

I hustled the remaining distance to what I thought was a Uniflow type steam engine with either a boiler or feed water tank by its side. Upon closer inspection, I realized that there were no valve linkages or provisions therefore and that this was in fact a huge reciprocating water pump with a pressure tank. The entire area was strewn with old iron. I suddenly recognized the flywheels of the engine that had powered the pump sticking out of the ground. It was a large oil engine of perhaps eight HP that had broken through its foundation and sunken into the dirt. No identification was visible and, as one might expect, the engine and other machinery had long since rusted solid.

Upslope from the pump station were two rock crushers, a winching rig and several reciprocating feed pump units all protruding from the frozen ground. Down slope there were numerous parts of heavy ore separators, pay loader wheels and huge castings from what looked like centrifugal separators along with other iron junk.