Gold Dredging in Warren, Idaho

Heritage Program, Payette National Forest
May 26, 2004

E.T. Fisher, A.F. Baumhoff, and associated owned the Idaho Gold Dredging Company. The dredge was moved from Granite, Oregon into Warren Meadows and began operation on September 11, 1931. This dredge had a wooden hull and two Lentz boilers capable of 90 horsepower each. The boilers consumed about 2 ½ cords of firewood daily. In 1936 the dredge was converted to electricity powered by a generator on the South Fork of the Salmon River. An overhead transmission line brought electricity to the dredge. The bucket line consisted of 75, four foot wide buckets operated at a speed of 26 buckets per minute. Actual dredging capacity was about 4,000 cubic yards per day. The trammel was five feet in diameter by 30 feet long, and perforated with three-inch holes. The tailing stacker is 90 feet long. A large steel rectangular spud was used as an anchor. A rectangular timber spud was used for the step forward. The dredge would dig a five-foot cut in a 100-foot swing.

From 1931 through 1936 the dredge worked an area about 1/3 rd of a square mile. From this area about three-fourths to one million dollars in small gold and silver particles were recovered. To keep the dredge operational there was a mechanic with a machine shop, electrician, truck driver, and a bulldozer operator. Within the dredge were the dredge master, three winch-men, three oilers, one mechanic, and one shore-man. With all of the machinery operating the dredge noise was deafening, and the workers suffered hearing loss. The dredge operated all year long, and remained in operation until forced to close by the War Production Board in 1942.