Girdwood, Alaska - Rescue crews braved frigid winter conditions early this morning in an attempt to rescue numerous gold nuggets buried under tons of gravel and rock. A crowd gathered under gray skies to witness the heroic effort. The scene was one of tense waiting, interspersed with periods of high emotion.
Finally . . . success! A cheer went up as first one, and then many more gold nuggets saw the light of day. Rescue crews worked slowly with special equipment brought in to deal with the unique situation.
"These little nuggets have been buried here for countless years," said Rescue Coordinator Steve Herschbach. "The material has hardened a great deal, and there are many large boulders to deal with. We considered the use of explosives, but decided the nuggets might suffer unduly from its use. We chose to use suction dredges to protect the gold nuggets from possible harm."
One nugget positively glowed with happiness upon his liberation from the dark depths. "You can't imagine what it was like," he said. "The floods were the worst. I used to be quite a bright, crystalline nugget. But once the boulders got though stomping the living daylights out of me . . . well, look at me now. They say it builds character, though."
Not every rescue attempt had a happy ending, however. Mr. Herschbach described one of the failures. "I saw a beautiful nugget perched on the edge of a crevice under a large rock. It was all I could do to hold on in the current as I reached for her with my rescue tweezers. The current must have reflected off my hand, because she slipped away just as I reached for her. Try as I might, the rock proved impossible to move. Her pitiful wail as she fell out of sight will haunt me forever."
In spite of tragic events such as this, the overall mood by the end of the day was one of jubilation. A crowd of gold nuggets lay gathered in the rescue pan, excitedly discussing their futures now that they were free. "I can't wait to see the sun," said one. "I hear it looks like a giant, glowing gold nugget!" There was the inevitable promise of a book or movie to come. Most heartwarming of all was the wish of one little gold nugget. "I just want to find my Mom," she said. "I hear that many people are looking for my Mother Lode. I hope someone finds her so I can tell her how much I've missed her."Actually, this little nugget of humor, sent to us by Leonard Leeper ("The Golden Optimist"), was written by Steve Herschbach, Alaska Mining and Diving Supply, and is used with permission.