History of Moore Creek Gold Claims

Moore Creek from Alaska Resource Data File, Iditarod Quadrangle, Alaska by Thomas K. Bundtzen, Marti L. Miller, and Charles C. Hawley

USGS Open File Report 2004-1311

Gold was discovered on Nevada Gulch, a short tributary of Moore Creek in 1910 (Maddren, 1911) and the Discovery claim on Moore Creek was staked in 1911 (Mertie, 1936). Shallow deposits were worked by opencut scraper and hand methods in the first 20 years of operation. In 1913, some ground was being prepared for a dredge; however, a dredge never operated on Moore Creek. In 1927, a Northwest dragline, one of the first in southwest Alaska (Smith, 1931) was brought into the district for exploration, development, and mining.

By the 1930s, mechanized placer mines equipped with draglines and bulldozers dominated activities in the district. The dragline stacked tailings in regular, linear tailing piles up to 6 meters high down the valley of Moore Creek. In the mid-1930s, the USSR&M company initiated a churn drill program in Moore Creek basin with the idea of developing ground for a large-scale dredging operation (Smith, 1937).

Large scale mechanized mining was nearly continuous until Statehood and then intermittent through 1986. Small scale exploration and development activities continued through 2001. From 1911 to 1986, at least 53,990 ounces of gold and 12,520 ounces of silver have been produced from the Moore Creek Mine (Bundtzen and others, 1988; Miller, Bundtzen, and Gray, in press).

About 1,383 ounces of gold and 64 ounces of silver have been produced from nearby Nevada Gulch, mainly from 1911 to 1929. Beginning in the early 1930s, Gus Uotila, Charlie Uotila, John Ogriz, and Elmer Keturi operated the first bulldozer-based placer mine and established Moore Creek Mining Company. More than 70 percent of the total historic production occurred from the mid 1930s to about 1955, when a highly successful dragline/bulldozer plant operated by Elmer Keturi and Jules Stuver mined the deposit.

Annual production ranged from 2,000 to 6,500 ounces of placer gold throughout the 1930s and the 1950s (unpublished U.S. Mint records). From 1933 to 1937, the Moore Creek Mining Company was the largest producer of gold in the Iditarod District (Smith, 1936, 1936, 1941 [B 926-A]). The best year of production was 1937 when 6,500 ounces of placer gold was produced. Moore Creek Mining Company also found abundant cinnabar during mine operations (Joesting, 1942). Work in the 1980s concentrated on recovering coarse nuggets from tailing piles. Early dragline operations did not have nugget collectors and coarse nuggets have been found in tailings in recent years.


1908 – Gold discovered on Moore Creek by A. A. “Tony” Zimmerman (O).

1910 – Good prospects reported on Moore Creek (P).

1911 – Discovery Claim staked fall of 1911. (D)

1912 – Most productive year. Several plants working on creek. (D) 30,000 sq. ft. bedrock cleaned produced 1933 ounces.

1913 – One claim with 12 men working. Ground shallow, all work by hand.

1914 – Same as above. Plus, Claim #5 above Discovery has two men working and Bench Association & Fraction has four men working. Sandstone and shale bedrock, creek claims have 10 feet of cobbles ranging from 6″ to 36″ in size. On benches 3 feet gravel with 2 feet clay and vegetation. Water from Willow Creek brought to bench, impounded, with head of 20 feet. Concentrates contain cinnabar, zircon, and little magnetite.

1915 – Two plants, one in the creek and one on the B & C Association, were operating in 1915. USGS geologist J. B. Mertie picks up vein quartz carrying gold on the hills north of Moore Creek. (D)

1916 – Claim 5 above Discovery most productive creek claim. Along the east bench of Moore Creek, opposite claims 1 below to 6 above Discovery, the Alaska association of eight claims was located, and still farther east on the bench were the B & C and OK associations. (D)

1920 – Keller and Dawson continued hydraulic operations on their ground on Moore reek, a tributary to the Kuskokwim River. They employed a crew of about six men. This camp lies about midway between Iditarod and Takotna and near the trail at present used between these two points. The ground is shallow and the situation generally favorable for hydraulic operations. (A)

1923 – Dawson and Keller, with 6 men employed, hydraulicked on the B&C claim on No. 6 Pup. The deposit on this claim averages 10-12 feet in depth and contains no boulders. Material is piped into the head of boxes and tailing is stacked at odd intervals with a giant. In 1922, when the average depth of ground was 11 feet, 120,000 sq. ft. was mined in a season of 122 days and at a cost of 15 cents per sq. ft. or 37 cents per cu. yd. The wages paid at this property $8 and board for 10 hours. Board costs $3.50 per day. In 1923 the cost of mining was about 50 cents per cu. yd. Prospecting conducted during the summer demonstrated that the pay streak continues a full claim above the present operations. A new 3-mile ditch was constructed during the season. F. Boushau and Paul Reimer were groundsluicing in the vicinity. The gold output from Moore Creek in 1923 was about $20,000. Moore Creek is 42 miles east of Flat by trail. Summer rates by pack train to this camp are 25 cents per pound; winter rates by dogteam are 8 cents per pound. Wages in the Iditarod district are $6 to $7 per 10-hour day and board. The cost of boarding is $3 to $3.50 per man day. (B)

1924 – Continued operations on No. 6 Pup successful even though problems with new ditch.

1926 – Mr. Barlow stated that it was his hope to get Guinan and Ames interested in dredging Moore Creek. In this connection the drilling that has been done on Moore Creek, prospecting for dredging, has been done by an associate of Mr. Guinan’s, W. G. Glass. (I)

1927 – A Northwest dragline, one of the first in southwest Alaska (Smith, 1931) was brought into the district for exploration, development, and mining.

1933 – One plant was operated in 1933, working a cut on claim 5 above Discovery, where 30,000 square feet of bedrock was cleaned. This plant employed five men. Largest placer gold producer in district. (D)

1936 – Claim #5 most productive. Gold in base of gravel and top 1-1/2 feet of bedrock. Considerable quartz, gold 767 fine 225 silver. Largest producer in district.

1937 – The Moore Creek Mining Company, a new operation, is mining with dragline and bulldozer on Moore Creek, a tributary of the Takotna River. This company has 14 claims and a fraction and is owned by Charles and Gus Uotila, Elmer Keturi, and John Ogriz. Moore Creek is located 37 miles east of Flat. They have an airplane field 1250 x 100′, costing $3,000. Thus far 130,000 bedrock feet have been cleaned. The ground runs between 30 and 50 cents to the bedrock foot. This is the second year of operation for this company, however, this is the first year with dragline. The Fairbanks Exploration Company drilled with four men and airplane drill on Moore Creek, half a mile below the holdings of the Moore Creek Mining Company. On date of visit the drill had been moved to Fourth of July Creek. Largest production year. (N)

1938 – Uotila & Ogriz have been operating their dragline on Moore Creek. They have ? men employed. Reports were that they have been severely handicapped by a deep overburden and not doing as good as expected. (F)

Northwest Model 104 Dragline w/ 1 Yard Bucket at Moore Creek

Northwest Model 104 Dragline w/ 1 Yard Bucket at Moore Creek

1939 – The Moore Creek Mining Company on Moore Creek, 30 miles east of Flat was reported to have 12 men employed. To date this year, they have produced $47,000, as reported by the management. This company has the advantage of considerable thawed ground and is expected to do exceptionally well this season. The company has purchased a new 5-inch Kirk-Hillman drill which is being operated this season with 3 men. (G)

1940 – The Moore Creek Mining Company was reported as having a very successful season. They maintain a crew of 12 men and to date this season they have had a production of over $100,000. (H)

1940? – Warner Stewart of Flat discovers and explores Broken Shovel prospect prior to World War II.

1946 – The Moore Creek Mining Company, located 30 miles east of Flat, is operating a dragline and bulldozers under the management of Elmer Keturi with a total of eight men employed. Mining by this company continues to reveal several coarse gold nuggets with quartz attached. The company was reported to have about reached the end of it’s pay. (E)

1950 – Moore Creek Mining Company of Fairbanks active.

1959 – Jules and Joe Stuver of Flat have hydraulic operations on Moore Creek. (C)

1965 – Jules and Joe Stuver mining on creek. One cut produced $15,000.00 of gold in about ten days. (Q)

1986 – Past production estimates from mint returns 54,000 oz gold and 13,392 oz silver (J)

1987 – Past production estimates 54,250 oz gold and 12,600 oz silver – probably conservative. Gold fineness range 746-769, average 758 reported by Smith, Gold fineness 883 reported by Metz and Hawkins. Concentrates from mine cut on Harris operation contain magnetite, chromite (35%), zircon, and trace cinnabar, scheelite, native silver, and tetrahedrite. Pan concentrates analyses 14.3ppm gold, 6.1ppm silver, 440ppm cobalt, 200ppm nickel, 350,000ppm chromium, 70ppb platinum. Chromite is so abundant that a bulk sample of virgin pay gravel was collected to evaluate the chromite placer potential. However, table concentrations yielded only 2.2%… too low to be economically significant. (K)

1988 – The Iditarod-Nixon Fork fault juxtaposes a thin 2,200 m thick section to the northwest against a much thicker (>5,000 m) turbidite dominated section in the southeast. Faint escarpments along Bonanza Creek suggest Quaternary activity. Since 65 to 69 m.y. old rhyolites were also emplaced along the fault, the I-NF system shows evidence of movement since that time. Miller and Bundtzen (1988, in press) have proposed a right lateral offset solution of 94 km since Late Cretaceous time for the I-NF fault. These workers suggest that volcanic stratigraphy in the Donlin Creek area (Iditarod A-5 Quadrangle) is equivalent to similar rocks in the Moore Creek area (Iditarod C-3 Quadrangle) to the northeast. (L)

1996 – Meta-aluminous, alkalic-calic boron enriched plutons of monzonitic composition; Late Cretaceous-early Tertiary age. Gold fineness 758-883, average 836, heavy minerals chromite, cinnabar, native silver, silver sulfosalts, highest silver/gold ratio of any district. Boron-enriched silver-copper-quartz veins cut a small monzonite pluton at the Broken Shovel prospect, about 70 km southwest of McGrath (Figs. 1, 2). The 4 square km pluton, which yielded a K-Ar biotite age of 68.3 Ma, intrudes the Upper Cretaceous Kuskokwim Group flysch. The chalcopyrite-arsenopyrite-quartz vein trends for 200 m in a northeast direction and features en echelon sheeted tourmaline veins nearly 30 m thick that extend along the hanging wall for the entire length of the deposit. Silver to gold ratios average 555:l; six analyses average 0.25 percent arsenic, 0.24 percent antimony, 0.07 percent lead, and 0.48 percent copper (Bundtzen et al., 1988). Homogenization temperatures of quartz fluid inclusions from the Broken Shovel deposit near Moore Creek, which is interpreted in this paper as a boron-enriched silver-tin polymetallic deposit type, range from 254°C to 380°C and average 297°C (Bundtzen et al., 1988).

2003 – Mine purchased by Moore Creek Mining LLC. Tailing pile pile produce many large nuggets and specimens in 2004.

2005 – “Pay-To-Mine” operation commences at Moore Creek. A 24.79 oz gold specimen is found by a visitor.

2006 – Full Metal Minerals begins hardrock exploration on the property.

2007 – “Spring” and “Troy” hardrock prospects discovered. Full Metal partners with Highbury Projects.

2008 – Drilling on Spring and Troy zones hampered by extremely fractured host rock

2009 – Pay-to-mine operations continue for the fifth summer, with a total of about 350 ounces of gold nuggets and specimens found over the five year period. 32.2 ounce gold nugget found by visitor. Moore Creek Mining LLC turns placer and pay-to-mine operations over to Moore Creek Pay-To-Mine LLC.

A. Annual Report of the Territorial Mine Inspector 1920, AR1920, page 34

B. Annual Report of the Territorial Mine Inspector 1923, AR1923, page 43, 47

C. Report of the Division of Mines and Minerals 1959, AR1959, page 68

D. Mineral Deposits of the Ruby-Kuskokwim Region by J. B. Mertie, U.S.G.S. Bulletin 864-C 1936, page 223-224

E. Report of Mining Investigations in the Otter Precinct 1946, IR064-01, page 2

F. Summary Report of Mining Investigations in the Cache Creek, Innoko, Iditarod, Aniak-Tuluksak, and Goodnews Bay Districts 1938, IR195-22, page 3

G. Summary Report of Mining Investigations in the Otter and Nulato Precincts 1939, IR195-25, page 2

H. Summary Report of Mining Investigations in the Bethel, Otter, Innoko and Kenai Precincts 1940, IR195-29, page 3

I. Placer Operations Innoko District 1926, MR64-1, page 5

J. Minerals Potential Kuskokwim Planning Block 1986, Public-data File 86-53e, page 9

K. Heavy Mineral Provenance Studies in the Iditarod and Innoko Districts, Western Alaska 1987, Public-data File 87-16, page 5, 10, 15, 20

L. Geology and Mineral Resources of Iditarod Mining District 1988, Public-data File 88-19, page 10

M. Precious Metals Associated with Late Cretaceous-Early Tertiary Igneous Rocks of Southwestern Alaska 1996, Public-data File 96-15, page 265, 274, 276

N. Summary Report of Mining Investigations in the Bristol Bay, Bethel and Otter Precincts 1937, IR195-18, page 8

O. Alaska’s Kuskokwim River Region: A History by C. M. Brown U.S. Bureau of Land Management Unpublished BLM Report, page 111-112

P. Gold Placer Mining Developments in the Innoko-Iditarod Region, in A. H. Brooks and others, Mineral Resources of Alaska, Report on Progress of Investigations in 1910, U.S.G.S. Bulletin 480 1911, pages 267, 270

Q. “Summer at Stuver Mine” by Jerry Ball, Alaska Sportsman, August 1965

R. Memoirs of Elmer Keturi

S. Mineral resources of Alaska, report on progress of investigations in 1915, U.S.G.S. Bulletin 642 1916, page 237