It extracted a rich seam of gold from the Manuherikia River
114 years ago and the Chatto Creek Dredge's final resting
place is now close to where it all began.
Remnants of the dredge stored at a scrap metal dealer's yard
in Alexandra for about six years after being removed from the
river were this week returned to Chatto Creek and placed in a
paddock between the Chatto Creek Tavern and the Otago Central
Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust secretary Terry Davis said
the new site was a couple of kilometres away "as the crow
flies" from where the dredge was based from 1889-1901 and
would be easily accessible for the public to view.
The heavy metal parts, the boiler and bucket chain, along
with the Australian hardwood and North Island kauri timber
used to build the dredge and pontoons, were taken to the new
site and placed in roughly the order they would be if the
equipment was operational.
"We'd like to reconstruct it in the future... but in the
meantime it'll be displayed as it is and we'll put up an
information panel about it," Mr Davis said.
Trust president Martin Anderson said the relocation of the
dredge was one of the special projects to mark the 150th
anniversary of gold discovery in Central Otago.
The Chatto Creek project cost about $3000 and salvaging and
removing the dredge pontoon from the riverbank was the next
Celebrating the gold anniversary had heightened the profile
of the trust, Mr Anderson said.
"It's been a busy year for us and it's not over yet."
Chatto Creek Tavern owner Lesley Middlemass said she quite
often had descendants of people who had worked on the dredge
call in and ask where it was sited.
"The family of one man said he'd started as an apprentice on
the dredge and had to sign a document saying he wouldn't
fraternise with the opposite sex for two years as one of the
conditions of his employment." She was thrilled the dredge
was back in the district again and would be accessible to
Alexandra historian John Douglas said it was interesting that
considering Alexandra was once a "mecca" for dredges, there
were very few left in the area.
About eight years ago, a dredge sub-committee of Promote
Alexandra was formed to locate dredge sites and restore old
dredges. The Chatto Creek dredge was one of its projects and
it found the machine in the river about 12.5km north of
Alexandra and removed all salvageable parts of the dredge
with the intention of rebuilding the machine one day.
"For various reasons, that never happened, so we've picked up
the project," Mr Davis said.
The dredgeworked on the river between 1898 and 1901 before
the Chatto Creek Dredge Company went into liquidation.