“Gold Rush: Alaska,” a reality TV show featuring a crew of greenhorns who worked a gold claim in the Porcupine mining district last summer, airs Friday night on the Discovery Channel. Ten episodes are planned.

Clips from the show posted on a series website promise drama, as well as dramatic narration and music to sauce up what other residents do without fanfare each summer – operate mom-and-pop placer operations in the upper valley.

Video teasers of the show are titled, “A Desperate Plan,” “A Perilous Crossing,” and “A Bridge Challenge.”

The series opens as a tale of woe, with the father-son team of Jack and Todd Hoffman discussing having to sell their airstrip business in Sandy, Ore. to weather the economic recession.

Todd Hoffman, who in recent press interviews has cast himself as a kind of everyman gone North, says to the camera: “I don’t have a degree. I just can’t go out and get a job. Even if I wanted to, there isn’t anything out there.”

A grave-voiced narrator interjects: “For the Hoffmans, there may be one last hope – gold. With the price of gold at an all-time high, Jack and Todd are going to risk everything they own on the biggest gamble of their lives. To find a gold claim, the Hoffmans are traveling to Alaska’s Last Frontier… Buried in the Alaska wilderness is an estimated $250 billion worth of gold.”

The show’s website explains that Jack Hoffman mined in the Porcupine for three seasons in the 1980s “before he nearly went bankrupt.” For this expedition, the Hoffmans took other Portland-area victims of the recession, including Jimmy Dorsey, described as an unemployed realtor living with his mother, James Harness, a mechanic, laborer Greg Remsburg and sheet-metal worker Jim Thurber.

Scenes include a tearful farewell to families after “months of hard labor, blood, sweat and tears” preparing for the trip North. “With God and guns on their side, the town takes a moment to reflect on what lies ahead,” says the narrator.

Dramatic moments shown on the website involve crossing the Steel Bridge with an excavator in tow — “Boards are squeaking and snapping,” says a truck driver at mid-bridge – and swamping a piece of heavy equipment in the Klehini River.

John Schnabel, a Porcupine miner for 25 years, said he heard the Hoffmans’ crew found 16 ounces of gold, or about $20,000 worth.

“They were more interested in making a movie than they were in finding gold,” Schnabel said. “They didn’t get their machinery going until afternoon and sometimes not until evening. They had cameras going all over the place.”

But Schnabel praised Todd Hoffman’s savvy and defended him from criticism of another miner who said the greenhorns were throwing out too much gold with their tailings. “There’s some truth to that even in my operation. In that way they’re not unique.”

Schnabel said the show would be great for Haines, and may even encourage some others to try the diggings at Porcupine. “Our town’s living on nothing but hopes and grants and spaghetti. We should have somebody here paying the bills, even if it’s just a couple miners.”

During the summer filming, the TV miners and the Discovery Channel refused comment on the show. That changed in the fall with publicity including news stories in New York and Oregon.

Molly Wilson, a “super senior” studying theater and film at the University of Alaska, was one of several residents working on the show. Her job was keeping logs of film footage.

Wilson said she was confident the show would be a hit. “Alaska has some kind of major cool factor going on. People down below live differently than we do. It’s interesting for them to see somebody try to live off the land like they did back in the old days.”

The miners’ personalities also have appeal, she said. “People watching can sympathize with all or at least some of them, depending on who they are. Also, what they’re doing is not easy.”

Wilson is hoping to attend the show’s “wrap party” in London later this winter. “I’ve sure learned a lot from them. I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. My parents were kind of disappointed I postponed my graduation again but I learned so much more than I could have from theory in the classroom.”

“The mine at Porcupine Creek is located in the heart of one of the last great wildernesses, where weather conditions can change in an instant. The claim is surrounded by the largest bald eagle population on earth, and a nearby river is the site of a year-round salmon run. Grizzly bears and moose sightings happen daily, and the team must be prepared for some seriously close encounters,” says a website promo.

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