Up in Alaska, Men from Oregon Search Desperately for Gold

Tonight the TV was all about the Great North. First up Gold Rush Alaska, about a group of six men from Oregon who have assembled $250K worth of heavy machinery and have bought a claim in Porcupine Creek  to mine gold. It’s one equipment failure after another and the miners after 80 days just don’t get along. Family tragedy back home makes some of them wonder if they should stay, and one miner named Dorsey feels that the big boss doesn’t respect him so he leaves the mine for a few days of much more lucrative salmon fishing. He comes back, but it’s clear his days are numbered. He’s not very good at working with machinery and the chip on his shoulder is the size of a Buick.

The machine that is supposed to turn yards of soil and rock into an end result of gold has been breaking down, and the man who is supposed to fix it is breaking down too. James Harness needs morphine to fight his chronic ankle pain, and since they are 2500 miles north, he begins to go into withdrawal when the drugs are not yet in his hands. Yet he somehow is able to fix the giant shaker machine, and now Jim Dorsey is the only miner who have read the manual to a new tabletop wave table. “Nobody in the olden days had machines like this,” the boss Todd brags.

If gold mining was easy, well, there would be many, many more people roaming around the cold of Alaska and trying to find it. But it isn’t easy to get, it’s tiny specs that look a lot like other tiny non-gold specs and so it takes giant machinery and thousands of pounds of rocks and dirt going through them to get at it. With the price at over $1300 an ounce, there is plenty of motivation to keep mining…yet the money is running out, and if they don’t’ get four ounces in a week, they’ll have to go back to Oregon.