"There's gold in them thar hills" ... and everywhere else.
"Gold is where you find it," said Fred Hurt, AKA "Dakota Fred" on the Discovery Channel's Gold Rush: Alaska reality show and a Minot resident. "Gold is everywhere on the earth. Right now we're (digging for it) in Alaska." Hurt spoke to children at Longfellow Elementary about the life of a gold digger and filming the cable reality show, which airs on Friday nights.
Hurt began working in construction in the late 1960s, working as a commercial diver in the Gulf of Mexico. He learned underwater construction, demolition and salvage, which he now applies to gold mining. He retired in 2004 after 25 years of running his own construction company and took up gold mining in Alaska, according to his bio. He lived in Texas and Louisiana and moved to Minot nine years ago because his wife has family here.
Fred Hurt, a regular on the Discovery Channel program “Gold Rush”, speaks to children at Longfellow Elementary on Monday.
He mined unsuccessfully for a few seasons at Porcupine and Caribou Creek in Alaska, then moved on to claims in Nevada, Wyoming and Montana. In 2008 he went back to Little Squaw Lake in Alaska at the Arctic Circle and helped design, build and operate a gold processing plant. He and his team mined 600 ounces of gold there, a feat that drew oohs and ahs from the kids.
"One teaspoon of gold is worth $1,700," said Hurt."It takes very little gold to add up to a lot of money."
This season, according to the bio on the Discovery website, he is the new boss at Porcupine Creek and can mine things his way, but he's also responsible for making it pay off.
Hurt said he makes a comfortable living, but he mostly does it for the adventure.
"It's a big treasure hunt," he said. "It's exciting, it's fun."
Hurt told the children that gold mining is no more dangerous than construction was and he has never had an accident on the site. The most he's had happen is a cut finger.
One of Hurt's children is on the show with him and calls him "Fred" because he didn't want to call him "Dad" when they worked together on a construction site when the son was a teenager, said Hurt.
Hurt said he gets recognized everywhere he goes because the cable show is popular worldwide. He has been recognized by people he meets in airports from places like South Africa and the former Soviet Union as well as from the United States. The cable program is one of the most popular on TV. But Hurt said he has not let his fame go to his head.
Hurt said the episodes that are airing now were filmed from late April to September this year. He just returned from Portland, Ore., where the TV show filmed follow-up interviews that will be aired during the show.
Hurt told the kids that everything surrounding them has something to do with mining, from the lights that are powered by coal or uranium or iron to the plastics that contain petroleum oil to the computers and smart phones they use every day.
"If you cannot grow it, you have to mine it," he said.
Hurt says he wants to keep mining gold for the rest of his life.
"I always have a smile on my face because I love what I do," he said.