Looking for Gold in Ester,
Ester lies just west of Fairbanks on the Parks Highway at the edge of town past the
university, on the way to Denali Park.
Many people don’t realize that in many parts of Alaska, gold mining is alive and well. And Ester Creek is one
of those places. Even now, there are over 4 square miles of claims in this area alone.
The mining district produces more gold than all the rest of Alaska combined.
Ester Republic (“the national rag of the people’s independent republic
of Ester”) commented in its first edition in 1999 that local resident
Frank Therrel “wowed the tourists” by panning for gold in the house
foundations he’d just dug up. Ester Gold Camp’s buildings are a remnant
of the earlier “Ester City”, which had 5 saloons.
As mining evolved, from simple gold panning to steam hoists, hydraulic cannons, and dredges, Ester developed, too. The
Gold Camp was opened in 1936 to outfit the miners. It had bunkhouses, homes, shops and offices.
Two of the original camp buildings – the assay office and blacksmith shop – are still there.
In 1987, 11 buildings in Ester were put on the National Register of Historic Places.