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Sumpter in Baker County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)
 

Floating in its own pond

Moving the dredge

 
 
Floating in its Own Pond Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Hann, August 7, 2017
1. Floating in its Own Pond Marker
Inscription. The dredge floated in about nine feet of water- but it could move anywhere it wanted in the valley because it took its pond with it.

Hard to imagine, isn't it? It worked because the dredge dug a pond for itself to float in as it moved -- scooping material in front and filling in behind.

The whole process took place in water and using water. At the front, the buckets brought gravel and rock into the dredge, and water poured into the hole that was left behind.

The material went through the dredge and was processed using water. At the end of the process, the tailings -- rock and gravel with no gold in it -- went onto the 96-foot chute of the stacker, and were deposited behind the dredge in piles.

The operator up in the control area set the cables to determine how deep the bucket line would go. He pulled them back to engage the bucket line, and began the dredging process.

When the dredge had finished scooping away a swath of bank, the operator used the cables to drag the dredge forward again, and the process started all over.
 
Erected by Oregon State Parks.
 
Location. 44° 44.545′ N, 118° 12.215′ W. Marker is in Sumpter, Oregon, in Baker County. Marker can be
The Dredge and the Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Hann, August 7, 2017
2. The Dredge and the Marker
The marker is visible at the left of the dredge.
reached from the intersection of Austin Street. Touch for map. The Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area and the town of Sumpter are 30 miles west of Baker City at the base of the Elkhorn Range of the Blue Mountains. The park is open for day use every day until dusk, May-October. The marker is located directly in front of the dredge, behind the visitor center. Marker is in this post office area: Sumpter OR 97877, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 1 other marker is within walking distance of this marker. A Golden History ( about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line).
 
Regarding Floating in its own pond. The tool used to plow up most of what was once pasture and open meadows along the
Powder River is a five-story vessel known as the Sumpter Valley Dredge. Wider than a large riverboat, the dredge is now grounded where it stopped operating in 1954. It is one of the nationís oldest surviving gold-digging dredges, (as opposed to the more familiar dredges used to keep rivers navigable for shipping).

Visitors are welcome aboard from May-October. Take a self-guided tour or join a ranger led tour to learn: 1) How this vessel, weighing 1,240 tons with a 52-foot-wide hull, ended up in eastern Oregonís Blue Mountains, 100 miles away from a navigable waterway. 2) How it managed to navigate the Sumpter Valley in a pond of its own
The Bucket Line image. Click for full size.
By Don Hann, August 7, 2017
3. The Bucket Line
The bucket line at the front of the dredge. 72 buckets, each weighing one ton, linked together on a boom, functioned like a giant chain saw cutting into the valley floor.
creation. 3) How its 72 buckets (each weighing one ton) scooped up 1,600 acres of river valley at the rate of 280,000 cubic yards per month. 4) How a three-man crew per shift kept it operating 24 hours a day, year-round. 4) How it extracted $4.5 million in gold.
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceNatural Resources
 
The Chain of 1 Ton Buckets Heading up into the Second Story of the Dredge image. Click for full size.
By Don Hann, August 7, 2017
4. The Chain of 1 Ton Buckets Heading up into the Second Story of the Dredge
The Stacker image. Click for full size.
By Don Hann, August 7, 2017
5. The Stacker
The 96 foot long "stacker" at the back of the dredge deposited the waste rock "tailings" in large piles behind the dredge.
The Dredge image. Click for full size.
By Don Hann, August 7, 2017
6. The Dredge
Full view of the dredge floating in its pond.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 12, 2017. This page originally submitted on August 12, 2017, by Don Hann of Canyon City, Oregon. This page has been viewed 40 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on August 12, 2017, by Don Hann of Canyon City, Oregon. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
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