Monday, July 22, 2013

Just 80 miles from Anchorage on Turnagain Arm, is Hope. It was Alaska's first gold mining town, established in the 1890’s. The ongoing quest for Resurrection Creek gold created the community of Hope, named after Percy Hope, the youngest new miner to step off a boat when all present decided that the town would be named after the next exiting passenger. At the time, there were six mines in the Hope region -- the Hirshey Mine, Bear Creek Mines, Hope Mining Company, Lucky Strike Mine, Nearhouse Mine and Paysteke Mine. Today recreational gold mining is a big draw in this tiny town of 192 people.

If you're new to gold panning the man to see is
Gold Rush Peck. He can teach you everything you need to know about getting gold out of the earth.

Peck’s given name is Peck Hassler; he's been gold mining and panning since he was 10 years old. Peck walks with a cane, wears rainbow suspenders, a jacket with an embroidered picture of himself on the back and he has a wicked cool leather hat filled with a couple of Bald Eagle quills, some big fish hooks, pins of Alaska, turquoise jewelry and a couple pins noting his service in Vietnam. "This hat was willed to me by my friend Frank," said Peck. "I know this hat is water repellent but that could be from all the sweat and stink."

Peck proudly served his country for 30 years in the Air Force during the Vietnam War era. Retired now, he enjoys showings kids of all ages how to gold pan.

But first you have check out his world map and put a pin in your home town. The map is pretty cool; he’s had several visitors from the Antarctic; loads of visitors from New Zealand; Siberia, etc. He says visiting with folks and learning about their lives makes his life good. We spent a couple of hours with Peck, Jim and Sherry gold panned while I visited with Mrs. Peck. Peck is the real deal, and he is an amazing Alaskan Character. 



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