Max Fuerstner considers himself a lucky man, and he has good reason. In 1974, he pulled one of the largest gold nuggets to be found since the Gold Rush out of his sluice box on Livingstone Creek.
The 20 1/2 ounce nugget, which nearly fills the palm of his hand, is supposed to be the largest nugget found since the Gold Rush, Fuerstner said.
“We screamed when we found it,” he said. His 11-year-old sons carried it down to his partners Bob Miller and Gary McCully, who thought he must have a rock or piece of wood in his hand, but certainly not a nugget, Fuerstner said.
He and his partners started sluicing on Livingstone, in May after taking a bulldozer and front-end loader in during March. Most of the claims in the area had already been staked, and the mining recorder, in Whitehorse reported. The nugget was been placed in the bank for safe-keeping.
“It’s something that you give to your son and your son gives to his son,” Fuerstner said. He has no intention of selling the nugget.
It is the first time he has personally tried placer mining. “I consider myself lucky. I’ve always been lucky, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone into the investment,” he said. He is modest about his find, saying he does not want any publicity, but agrees “everyone should have the right to know of what is in the Yukon.”
The largest nugget to be found during the Gold Rush is recorded as a 77-ounce one discovered by Saples and Small on Cheechako Hill in 1898. Since then is it reported that Louis Engels, who had a claim upstream on Livingstone Creek from Fuerstner, found one about the same size, 21 ounces, in the late 1950s.
Fuerstner is fairly philosophical about gold mining. “Gold is where you find it. There is not an instrument or magnet to pull it out of the ground,” he said. “You walk over the ground and never know what is under it. There is no insurance that it’s going to pay you to take the diesel in or all that equipment.”
“I have no gold fever,” Fuerstner said. “I’m interested in getting my investment back.” But mention the mother lode, and like all placer miners he says, “we’ve got hopes.” The former owner of the Alpine Motor and Bamboo Terrace in Whitehorse said he took up placer mining for health purposes, for something to do and because he enjoys being out in the bush. Thus fair it’s been a successful venture, Fuerstner reporting that he and his partners have only been finding course jewelry gold.