A side trip to the Yankee Fork Dredge and Custer - Part II The run from the highway to Bonanza, Custer, and the dredge. I would bet that a lot of riders have seen these rock piles along waterways but never realized that they are the result of a giant dredge working an area. Even on small streams, dredges could operate since they float in their own small "moving" pool of water. Bonanza and Custer started up with the discover of gold in the area. Eventually the two towns kind of grew together into one. This is the boot hill type cemetery at Bonanza. Richard and Lizzie King, of London (England), moved to Bonanza in 1878. He set up a real estate business and she set up a billiard saloon and dance hall. They became friends with Chuck Franklin who founded Bonanza. Lizzie, a "golden haired beauty", spent a lot of time with Chuck - mostly without her husband. In the mean time Richard's real estate business partner shot and killed him over a business argument. Chuck and Lizzie picked out a plot in the brand new cemetery as Richard was about to become the first occupant there. Chuck also bought two more plots (one for him and one for Lizzie) since he thought he and Lizzie would eventually marry. In the mean time Lizzie hired a dealer for her saloon that swept her off her feet leaving Chuck behind. Six days after the dealer and Lizzie were married they were found dead. Chuck buried the two in the plots he bought next to Richard but did not include Lizzie's married name on her marker. Everyone thought Chuck capped the two but he was never arrested. He moved to a claim near Stanley. Some years later they found his dead body in his cabin clutching a picture of Lizzie in a gold locket. He was buried next to his lonely cabin. Bonanza burned twice. After the second fire the water works were shot so they didn't rebuild. People moved to Custer instead. There are only about 7 buildings left in Bonanza. This is said to have been the most efficient dredge in the world. After figuring out that there was still about $20M in gold around here, a company bought the dredge and went to work. The dredge weighs 988 tons, is 112 feet long, 54 feet wide, and 64 feet high. It requires 11 feet of water to operate in. It can dig to a depth of 35 feet. Each of the 72 buckets digs up 8 cubic feet of material. The dredge was built by Bucyrus-Erie of Milwaukee which still makes large mining equipment. The dredge started up in 1939 and ran pretty much continuously until 1942. It started up again in 1944 and ran until 1949 when a rock ledge held them up. J.R. Simplot, the potato king, got involved with it until 1951 when he ceased operations for good. Simplot donated the dredge to the USFS. No funds to develop it as a museum until a friends group went to work on it in 1979. Now you can tour the dredge. Tony Beets, a Yukon miner that appears on the television show Gold Rush, bought a 75 year old dead dredge like this. He disassembled it, moved it to his claim, reassembled it, and got it running again. I think he will make a lot of money with it. <iframe width="513" height="315" src="http://www.discovery.com/embed?page=162002" frameborder="0"></iframe> Aerial of the dredge at the Bonanza site. Zed searching for gold? Custer burned as well (mostly). They have a few buildings left and are rebuilding some replicas. The town site is laid out with trails that go to markers with pictures of what used to be there. Custer did not allow the Chinese miners to live in town. The General Custer Mine was named after Georgie. Initially people and supplies had to come in here via mule train over a rocky trail. Eventually someone put in a toll road to Challis. It took 5-7 pairs of oxen, horses, or mules to pull a load on the 35 mile trip that would take four days to complete. Eventually they got a stage that would charge $5 for the 8-9 hour daily trip. The town peaked at about 600 in 1896. By 1911 it was a ghost town. They have a museum in town. We hit some isolated, but significant, rain on the return run. Took cover on a porch until the worst of it passed. Stanley has gas, food, and hardware. Gas stop.