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Sumpter Valley Dredge, Sumpter

#677 of 1,093 in Things to do in Oregon
The Sumpter Valley Gold Dredge is a historic gold dredge located in Sumpter, in the U.S. state of Oregon. Gold was discovered in Sumpter in 1862. Three gold dredges were put into service in the Sumpter Valley district between 1912 and 1934.DescriptionA gold dredge works by having large buckets that pull the gold-bearing earth up into its machinery to be processed, keeping the gold and spewing the waste out the back by way of a stacker. Built on a shallow hull, these dredges did not need a lot of water to operate, as they moved their pond of water with them.The internal mechanics were not very sophisticated—they duplicated, on a larger scale, many of the devices used by placer mining throughout the gold rush, such as the gold pan and the sluice box. In essence, the dirt that was dug by the large electrically powered buckets was sifted and sorted, and the remainder was washed over a series of riffles allowing the gold to settle and be trapped. The primary advantages that made the dredge more efficient than other methods were the volume of earth it could process and having its own water supply. The dredge that was built in Sumpter Valley could dig over 20 buckets per minute, consuming more than seven yards of earth each minute.The Sumpter Valley Gold Dredge required a three-man crew to operate the machinery and 17 more workers to complete the crew for maintenance, bookkeeping, surveying, truck driving, managing and a few other roles. The dredge operated 363 days a year; most of the men were given the Fourth of July and Christmas day off from work. One or two men had to stay on board to watch over the machine during the evenings. Dredge workers often reported hearing the ghost of Joe Bush "Haunting" the dredge when the dredge was not operating due to closure or repair.
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
52 reviews
  • August 2, 2017
    I have been to this area several times in my life. Once when I was 12, then with my children in 1993 and now again that I'm retired. They have preserved this dredge so beautifully since I saw it the f...  more »
  • July 28, 2017
    On the way to the Painted Hills we came here almost diverted along, small piece, worth to see and walk through this machine. Entrance free.
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  • July 28, 2017
    We wouldn't recommend a long drive to see the dredge although there are other attractions in the area. It's an authentic old dredge partially restored, yet authentically rustic. Well worth a stop if y...  more »
  • May 27, 2017
    This is a great historical site to visit from May thru September. If you go anytime else you will be disappointed because the site is closed and locked up tight. Like anything else check the website and make sure you plan on visiting During operating hours!
  • March 26, 2017
    Open May 1 - October 31 according to website. We found a locked gate at spring break as we wanted to take in a few sites in route to Anthony Lakes.
  • May 27, 2016
    This is a fun place to visit. You can ignore Travis the terrible tourist's review. One star due to being a complete idiot. I can't imagine why a federal park would be closed in the winter? If you are smart enough to be something more than a self entitled cry baby, stop in when the park is open. The structure is amazing! The inside is very impressive. Standing in or around it gives you a feel of what being a real man would have been like. Working with that type off equipment made you hardend, or dead.
  • January 14, 2016
    Too much snow to walk around here. Also, they blocked driving access to the park and took down all the signs. I couldnt even look inside the dredge because the door was locked.

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