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Sumpter Valley Dredge, Sumpter

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#532 of 1,738 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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Sumpter Valley Dredge Reviews
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  • We rode the locomotive cab of the Sumpter Valley Railroad from McEwen to Sumpter, where we found the Sumpter Valley Dredge, which was a nice attraction to visit while we waited for our return train ri...  more »
  • Really interesting huge piece of Machinery used in Mining. Stop and walk the trail around it and read the explanations of what it was used for.  more »
  • We visited the Sumpter Valley Dredge on an Alfa Romeo tour through Eastern Oregon. Interesting to see a big boat and crane in the middle of this desolate part of Oregon, and then the miles of "rock ta...  more »
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  • The Sumpter Valley Dredge is a great way to learn about some of Sumpter's rich gold mining history. Sumpter dredge #3 is the last of three dredges that operated through the valley dredging up gold. It was built in 1935. It now sits in a pond at the Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area where it stopped operating in 1954. The dredge and visitor center are closed during winter, but visitors can still view dredge from outside and enjoy network of nature trails in area. The dredge and visitor center will be open when the Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area is open May 1 - Oct 31.
  • This is an interesting stop on your drive down the historic highway. The dredge is huge, and it is interesting reading about how the floating barge dug out the lake that it would float in as it went along, filling it up as it passed. You can walk through the dredge, and kids will enjoy the sheer size of the machinery. If you have extra time, you can take the drive up the dredge path to Bourne, an old ghost town.
  • Great place to learn about the history of dredging. Fun little gift shop, excellent trails and an incredibly knowledgeful staff.
  • Great tour guide. Learned a great deal. It's a bummer what dredging did to the landscape. Dredge is interesting and in great shape!
  • The dredge is a must visit. This will give you much information about how they destroyed rivets ecosystems for profit. If you continue on the old scenic byway out of Austin, you will see some wonderful restoration projects in play due to the dredging.
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