Reiling Gold Dredge

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Year Listed: 2015
County: Summit County
Construction Date: 1908
Threat When Listed: Demolition by Neglect – Vacant
Status: SAVED


Video courtesy of CBS4

Situated 2.6 miles east of Breckenridge, the Reiling Gold Dredge was constructed over 100 years ago for the French Gulch Dredging Company to mine gold out of Summit County.  The dredge is a large barge-like boat with mining machinery on a floating substructure with the purpose of extracting gold from sand, gravel, and dirt out of stream channels.   On large gold dredges buckets dumped the material into a steel rotating cylinder that sloped downward toward a rubber belt that carried away oversized material and dumped the rocks behind the dredge. The cylinder allowed undersized material (including gold) to fall into a sluice box.  The rocks deposited behind the dredge are called “tailing piles.” The Reiling Gold Dredge remained in operation from 1915 until its sinking in 1922 and had the capacity of moving 2,000 yards a day.

The dredge today remains one of only a few intact dredges from the early twentieth century within its original historic context.  The dredge site retains remains of the original mining camp, unexplored archaeological features, a pond and 2.5 miles of rock tailings produced by the dredge.  Dredges scooped up millions of tons of river gravels, as steam and electrical power became available in the early 1900.  Gold dredges allowed mining companies to retrieve potentially difficult gold on a large scale.

Since its accidental partial sinking in 1922, the Reiling Gold Dredge remained unmoved and in a state of ongoing decay. Internal structures, walls and the roof collapsed over time, leading to the compromise of its structural integrity.  Due to fear of collapse, bracing cables were installed in 2012 to provide temporary stability to the structure; however, the dredge continued to deteriorate, and the fix was only adequate for one or two more years. To prevent further deterioration and prevent the complete loss of this unique historic resource, more permanent measures were needed to stabilize the existing structure.

The site was added to the Endangered Places list in 2015 and in 2016, Breckenridge Heritage assumed ownership of the site and completed some basic structural support for areas above the water line. A Historic Structure Assessment was completed in 2016, as well as interpretive signage. In partnership with the Town of Breckinridge, Summit County Government and the State Historical Fund, Breckenridge Heritage continued repairs to replace the above water decking and preserve the underwater components of the dredge. The successes of this project make the Reiling dredge one of the best-preserved dredges in situ in the United States. A 3-D model is available to show how the dredge became fully intact. In 2022, CPI announced the Reiling Gold Dredge as a save for its successful stabilization efforts and preservation within the historic context of its unique landscape. 

Additional Links:

Breckenridge Heritage Alliance