When we arrived in Chicken, there was a crowd of people gathered around the gold panning troughs at the Chicken Gold Camp so after talking to some of the panners, we couldn't pass up the chance to look for some gold. We ended up spending several hours of absolute great fun trading stories with the other travelers as we panned....people from all around the globe. We didn't get rich, but did find some nice little flakes and one nice little nugget. Had to break for lunch, which we ate in the Outpost. GREAT FOOD!
Over lunch, we met some miners, staying in the campground, who were working on the river with suction dredges and they invited us to visit their dredging operation. They recommended renting some kayaks (the Outpost has several) and floating the river down to their dredge. So..........see kayaking.
For those who think Chicken isn't a real town, here is the proof that it is; they have a post office. The Chicken Post Office isn't in the downtown area, but about half a mile down the road and off the highway a bit, on a hill. Mail is picked up and delivered here from the outside world only twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays, by airplane. Locals say that the mail is occasionally carried by pickup truck, or even by hitch-hiker. Chicken has had continuous mail service since 1906.
If you are ever in Chicken you MUST send a postcard to show your friends that you have been to this enviable travel destination.
I don't drink, but I still had to take a peek inside the Chicken Creek Saloon. If I were a drinking man, this is the kind of place in which I would like to imbibe. It's rustic, quaint, and the walls are lined with so much assorted junk that you can't see them at all.
I chatted for a while with the old local fellow in the long white beard seen here sitting in front of the Saloon. Something about him reminded me of a saying I heard in Alaska about the fact that males outnumber females in the 49th state. For a woman looking for a man in Alaska it is said: "The odds are good ... but the goods are odd."
For those who would rather drink elsewhere, there is a small liquor store adjacent to the Saloon.
After we ate breakfast at the Outpost, we did a little more gold panning while we waited for the 10am tour of the Pedro Dredge. The dredge mined in Fairbanks on Pedro Creek before being moved to Chicken in 1959. It mined Chicken Creek from 1959 to 1967 and produced about 55,000 oz. Mike (he and his wife own the Chicken Gold Camp) moved the dredge to their property in 1998 and restored it for tours. It was quite a project as the dredge weighs a million pounds. It jus became a National Historic Site.
Mike gave the tour which was pretty cool. He has worked on dredges and mining for many years, and still mines. All of the machinery was still there, even small hand tools and artifacts that the dredge crew had found. Mike plans on getting the dredge to run again so people can see it work. Definitely would be worth another tour for that. The tour was only $7.50 which is a lot cheaper than Dredge 8 in Fairbanks. One more "clucking" reason to come to little Chicken!
There are no flush toilets in Chicken and this poop house isn't a joke. It's the only place you can go for many miles around. That's why I list the Chicken Poop House as a "must see" activity.
The people of Chicken don't have a lot in the way of modern amenities, but they do have a great sense of humor.
Chickenstock Music Festival, a bluegrass concert, is held every summer around the 2nd weekend in June in Chicken, Alaska at the Chicken Gold Camp. The concert had 3 bands in 2008 for their 2nd annual concert. They plan to add more bands in 2009. Absolutley great time for everyone there.
The Chicken Creek Saloon is a must when travelling through Chicken, Alaska. Inside you will find an old time saloon atmosphere. The local gold miners and residents frequent this establishment. They are very friendly and welcoming of travelers passing through. You get to talk to the miners and hear stories of striking it rich. I heard a few! They have free camping and cabins for rent if you have too much fun at the saloon. Enjoy a fine breakfast at the cafe the next morn, served to you in a gold pan. This is truly an authentic Chicken experience. The rest of Chicken is just another tourist trap!