John Schnabel, one of Discovery’s biggest reality TV stars, died this month.
Schnabel was the patriarch of Gold Rush, born in 1920 in an “ag” family, he witnessed his Kansas farmer dad making bootleg alcohol during prohibition to feed the family.
The Volstead act, of course, made this highly illegal and the family had to leave the farm when the law came looking for him. Only 19 years old, John left for good and headed North, on a steamer north to Haines, Alaska, where he joined his on-the-lam father who traded stills for a sawmill.
Pearl Harbor was the impetus to get John to join up with the US Navy, but he landed in the Air Corps. H
e was lucky to come home and when he did, he invested in the Porcupine Mill, which, after he renovated it, could produce 10,000 feet of board wood per day.
John even became mayor of Haines.
Health issues dogged him and at age 68, John had a triple bypass. His plan of action was to stay busy and active and his grandkids Payson and Parker were taught how to prospect, pan and operate equipment for gold mining.
On March 18, 2016, John died in his sleep at age 96.
A statement from the Schnabel family:
“We couldn’t have asked for a better father, grandfather and overall family man. He was a true legend and we appreciate all of your love and support as we celebrate his wonderful life.”