There’s a new Gold Rush spin-off to look for and it stars former Hoffman crewman Dave Turin of Oregon. Of all the people involved with the Gold Rush franchise, Turin was always the one I had hoped for to be spun off into a new series that revolved around mining.
Gold Rush: Dave Turin’s Lost Mine is a new twist for the long-running franchise. Gold Rush’s Dave Turin was brought back into the fray-just like Al Pacino in the Godfather 3 – they dragged him back in with the promise to allow him to explore abandoned mines dating back to the age of the California Gold Rush.
This Oregonian began with Hoffman then famously had a huge blow up with Trey Poulson, another Hoffman crew member. It wasn’t long before Turin walked away from the series.
But that’s ancient history now, as Hoffman is off making his own way singing and producing, Turin is all business and totally locked in, telling us about the scope of his adventures for this season, and about his partner in crime (his wife) and his surprising thoughts on Todd, Tony, Parker and Rick.
He also recalled an unusual encounter with the narrator of Gold Rush and uber-Discovery TV personality Mike Rowe, who shares a similar passion for trade school and vocational education being more at the forefront for kids to explore as options in their middle and high school years.
Monsters and Critics spoke to Dave about this really exciting turn for Turin, the adventures and history of America’s lost mines with the gear to resurrect and re-mine the legendary spots.
M&C: Where are some of the locations that you’re going heading to?
Dave Turin: I did three locations in Nevada. Nevada, if it were country, is the fourth largest gold producing country in the world. There’s so much gold that comes out of Nevada. It is rich in gold.
Two of them were around Winnemucca, Nevada. One was down towards Yerington, Nevada. [It is] rich in history. I was in Dillon, Montana. I did one in Arizona. Oh, and I did one of them where it all started up in the Yukon. We went three hundred miles up the Yukon River and did some prospecting.
Monsters and Critics: Any ghosts mines in Idaho you want to tell me about?
Dave Turin: Ah, there’s lots. I scoured Idaho looking. There is mining activity and there’s a lot of old abandoned mines in Idaho. Yeah. Rich history. There’s another famous mining town that became a ski resort. Going on the way to Missoula [Montana].
It is unbelievable. People don’t realize how many people were out prospecting and mining a hundred to a hundred and fifty years ago. You know, after the gold rush in California, all those men, after a couple years the gold went away, all those men continued to prospect. They went to Montana, to Oregon, all around California, and they ended up in Idaho, in very rich areas in Idaho, Montana, Colorado, some in Oregon.
It’s unbelievable what these guys did with a burro or a donkey and their pan and their shovel, and they went looking.
M&C: How did you train your eye to know what the good stuff was when you were out pulling things out of the ground?
Dave Turin: That’s a good question. I remember being fooled by fool’s gold when we first started. When Todd Hoffman asked me to help him with his equipment, I had no experience with gold.
I’m a guy that, similar to you, I love rocks, I love geology, but my history, my past was we had a family rock quarry, and we just mined rock for roads and base and asphalt, and that’s my background.
When Todd asked me to go help him with the gold mining I was like, “Sure,” but I mean I was fooled like most people. It was like, “Look at that shiny piece.”
Todd would go, “No, that’s fool’s gold.”
“Oh, what about that?” He’s like, “Look, most things, like most gold, doesn’t shine. It doesn’t make it look like what you see on TV.”
Yeah, I was fooled. With that, I just had to train myself. It took, it’s just like anything else. It takes time and patience and a lot of effort to train your eye to look for the gold.
Now I’m pretty good at it. In a pan, I can pick out gold versus tin or lead or silver, and that’s all it takes is just time and putting time in.
M&C: You mentioned Todd. Are you guys still close?
Dave Turin: No. I wouldn’t say close. I’ve talked to him. I’ve tried to reconcile and make amends. No, we don’t dislike each other. We text. In fact, I was eating a hamburger in a place last week in Sandy [Oregon] and this is Todd, he texted me and said, “And have the bacon cheeseburger.” I said, “Okay, thanks for your advice.”
We’re not nearly as good of friends as we used to be. Todd and I were very close and we did a lot of things together. We would hang out together and go do fun things together. Since I left Gold Rush, that’s changed. Unfortunately, you know, but that’s life.
M&C: Yep. Do you have any kind of a relationship with Tony Beets or Parker Schnabel?
Dave Turin: Yeah. I was invited up in September. Discovery Channel asked me to go be on The Dirt. It was really fun because they asked me to be the guy that does the interviews. I was on the other side of the mic…and on the other side of the camera asking the questions. It was a load of fun. I mean, I really enjoyed it.
Tony Beets was fun to interview. He’s a kick. I’ve known, for all the years that I was up there, Tony and I have a relationship that is more of a mutual respect. We’re both miners that have mined our whole entire lives. Tony and I have that camaraderie, mutual respect, just because we both, our lives are similar because we’ve mined our whole lives and we’ve seen a lot.
Parker [Schnabel] is a young man. Him and I, we don’t hit it off as well. Then I had a good time with Rick who I interviewed…and I had a good time with Rick Ness. I interviewed Rick and through the years, we know each other and have a good relationship. He’s a funny guy and he is fun to hang out with, so yeah, I know those guys.
M&C: Yes. I was pulling for Rick, his first go as boss on this last season of Gold Rush. I hope he makes it and I hope he continues to keep doing what he’s doing.
Dave Turin: He’s a good guy. He’s a smart, yeah, he’s smart. I’m with you. I’m pulling for him. I like Rick and I liked his crew. I met all of his crew. I like them. They’re very likable guys, and they’re real, you know? Their struggles are the same struggles that we did in season one. As I watch those guys, I’m like, “Oh yeah, same problem we had eight years ago.”
And it’s the same thing I experienced this year.
My wife and I started a, same thing, a plaster mining company. We hired five people, and the lost mine, we found it and we did it. I can relate to exactly what Rick is going through.
This summer, my wife and I did the same thing. Employees and your doubts, your frustrations, your fears, all those things.
M&C: Tell me about your five guys…who did you hire? Tell me about your crew that we’re going to learn about.
Dave Turin: I can’t be specific but what I can tell you is it was just a pure joy. I picked up guys along the way. As I was prospecting across the lower 48, right after Gold Rush I was hired by some investors to go help them seek and find and secure land that had gold on it.
In that process, as I was traveling I was like, “Oh, my goodness. It’s so amazing the people that you meet along the way that are tied to the mine, whether it’s a family, whether it’s a town or a community that relied on that mine.”
Now the mine is gone but these people still have ties to it. As I was doing it, I found people that are still tied to mining, but yet they’re not mining. I picked up people along the way that are amazing, interesting people. A couple of them had mining experience, but the other guys had no mining experience.
That was part of the fun was that, I’ve been doing this a long time and through my time what I have found is that I would rather have somebody that’s a good person, that I like hanging out with, and has no mining experience.
Then I can teach and train and mentor them the way I want the job to be done, as opposed to hiring a guy that’s been doing it for 25 years and he’s been doing it this way. I would rather go, and so that’s what we’ll see on the show is that I put a crew together that became a family. You’ll see us argue and fight, but then hug it out and move on with a common goal and a common drive to be successful.
To me, that’s the guys down on their luck because most of these guys weren’t working and they were looking for the next best thing. I put them to work and off we go.
The other thing for me [that] was a pure joy was to be able to work with my wife. My wife has always traveled with me but she’s kind of been in the background. She’s a very competent lady. She doesn’t like the camera. However, she was an RN. She ran clinics, she was a manager, but she stepped back and allowed me to go do some of these crazy things.
This year she stepped up. I asked her to be more on the camera. She ran the gold room for me. She processed the gold, cleaned the gold, weighed it, and gave us results. It was really fun to be completely in partnership with my wife.
She’s not the lady that is [a] kick ass [type], but I tell you what, when she said something, all of us would listen. In her very strong, confident, quiet way, she was a kick-ass lady that was like, “You’re not coming into my gold room and making a mess of it.”
Strong lady. That was fun to do that with my wife.
M&C: I saw that you want to get high school-aged kids to learn how to do things with their hands and their minds instead of getting into debt in college. You want to talk about that? You and Mike Rowe have kind of simpatico passion…
Dave Turin: Sure, me and Mike Rowe. Yes, I had a personal meeting with Mike. Mike knows who I am. We sat down and talked because we’re going down similar paths. I believe that…
Here’s my philosophy on this. I love college athletics. I played college athletics, but I feel that we put so much value on a kid that can run and jump and is fast and athletic, and we put so much time and effort into him to get him to go to a certain college.
Well as business operators, why don’t we do that with a young man that is very adept at diesel mechanics or he can weld like nobody else?
Why aren’t we as a society, as businesses, as a community, why don’t we put the same value on that kid that’s motivated to do something with his life and send him off to a two-year school and then go to work for my company?
Yet we’ll spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the young man that can slam dunk a baseball or catch a football with one hand.
He’s not going to help my business. I’m passionate about getting young people, good, smart, motivated young people into the trades. Some of them, and I can give you examples in my own family, are not designed to go to a four-year college, and they become so in debt. They’re behind.
If you take a senior, and he goes to work and he’s motivated and he can actually go out and do something, for those four years that the other kid is going to college and not guaranteed he has a job at the end of his four years, think of the difference.
The one college student is incurring debt, the other one is actually producing. He’s a productive unit in our society and he’s paying taxes and he’s buying things. In my opinion, sometimes he’s the smarter guy because at the end of the four years he might have a nice truck and buying a house where the other guy now has to pay off a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of debt.
It’s not for everybody, but some people I don’t believe are designed or meant to get a four-year degree.
Oh, so let me go back to Mike Rowe.
I sat down with Mike and I said, “Hey, you know, we kind of have similar interests and a similar passion.” I go, “Would you be interested in partnering or I can help you and you can help me?”
It was really, really clear, concise answer. He said no.
I was like ‘okay, well thanks for talking to me.’ He was like, “I’m a one man show.” Okay.
M&C: Interesting. He was serious?
Dave Turin: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Which is all right. I mean, he’s the spokesperson for this. I speak on it a lot. I was speaking at a conference. It was called the World of Asphalt and it’s put on the association of equipment manufacturers. I gave a talk on hiring millennials and how we need to change our philosophy.
Then I’m speaking in June in front of the Petroleum Institute on similar things. Yeah, I’m getting the word out.
M&C: I think it’s great that you are using your celebrity and your fame to get that message out so that kids don’t feel like failures if they skip college and opt for trade schools. The whole college industry is designed to make someone feel like a failure if they don’t have an undergraduate degree.
Dave Turin: I agree. Here’s the other thing is you think the kid with the four-year degree looks down upon the guy that went to a two year and is a diesel engine technician. Oh my goodness. Those guys that are diesel engine technicians are brilliant. They are computer experts. They are hydraulics experts. They understand flows and pressures.
I’m like holy smokes… you couldn’t learn that as a four-year degree in engineering, some of what these guys know to fix these new, sophisticated machines that come out.
M&C: Sure. In your line of work and in your new show with Ghost Mines, what are some of the pieces of equipment that you absolutely rely on to do the work you do while they’re filming this new series? What are the required things that you have to have to be a gold miner, especially if you’re sort of going back in and into a mine that’s established?
Dave Turin: I guess the most important thing would be an excavator. Excavators are the most versatile thing that we have as a tool in our tool belt. The other thing, I am a plaster miner, so I used water and gravity to separate the gold, so the next two things that are very important is a wash plant, whether it’s a trammel or a shaker screen.
Then the other thing that’s critical is your sluice box. You need a good, well designed, and designed for the ground that you’re going to.
Everywhere I’ve gone, because I’ve been around the world, I’ve been to Central America. I’ve been to the Yukon, I’ve been to Alaska, I’ve been to six, seven different states. Each piece of ground is unique. The gold is unique. Each piece of gold is like a snowflake. They all have a different look, a different texture, a different way of catching, a different way of losing that piece of gold.
Your sluice box is really your bank account. You have to have that thing well designed and tuned into where you go. Each site is different. Your sleuth box is critical. Then good people.
M&C: Do you make the sluice box yourself or is there a company that actually designs to your specifications and sells sluice boxes?
Dave Turin: Both. I have a big part of the designing. I’ve built and can build. Actually, the best guy in the world is Freddy Dodge. I rely on Freddy a lot. He’s brilliant. He’s had so many years of experience. He can look at a sluice box and tell you by looking at it what you’re doing wrong and what you need to do to change it.
Freddy and I have designed, oh my goodness, I’ll bet you we’ve designed and built and put together probably five or six different plants together and collaborated on another three or four.
Here’s a perfect example of the person that is designed to be in a trade. Freddy Dodge, he is brilliant in my mind. As many people as I’ve been around in this business, he’s a genius when it comes to manufacturing, welding, and building things with steel.
He struggled in high school, but I could put him up against any engineer with a four-year degree or a masters degree or a doctorate, and Freddy can still out design them. I have sat down with Freddy literally at a bar and draw out things on a napkin, and Freddy can look at it and he can write numbers down and he will be dimensionally correct.
I can take that napkin to an engineer, put it on a cab design, and Freddy’s numbers will match what the cab designer puts down. I’ve done it. It’s unbelievable.
M&C: I am a huge Freddy Dodge fan, will we see him on your show?
Dave Turin: I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that.
M&C: Oh, come on. You can tell me.
Dave Turin: Yeah, he helped me. Let me put it that way. He was a big help to me this year.
M&C: Interesting, okay…
Dave Turin: Somebody else from Gold Rush you will see. Oh, there you go. A little teaser. Some of these guys remain my friends. When you work with somebody that many years, regardless of the circumstances, you still remain friends. Freddy and I are good friends.
M&C: It sounds like you made a good friendship too with Tony Beets, who is a riot. I’m sure you’ll appreciate his humor.
Dave Turin: [laughs] Yes. Yes, I do.
Gold Rush: Dave Turin’s Lost Mine premieres is on Friday, April 5 at 10/9c on Discovery.