A rare incident in reality TV is when a spinoff elicits a more enthusiastic response than its progenitor. So goes it for the affable workaholic, Freddy Dodge, and his partner, Juan Ibarra, stars of Gold Rush: Freddy Dodge’s Mine Rescue on Discovery and discovery+.
Perhaps the reason is that Dodge is tight with the core cast of Gold Rush, as he and Ibarra have saved the collective bacon of Beets, Hoffman, and others on that hit series still running strong.
Dodge’s popularity with cast and audience alike is an excellent thing. Being able to fix anything and understanding mechanics and fabricating and welding appear as exotic lost arts these days where kids are programming, coding, and influencing on social media platforms.
Knowing how to repair a broken motor is a massive part of the suite of services that Freddy Dodge and master fabricator Juan Ibarra bring to struggling miners and hobbyists betting the farm and their futures on pulling gold out of the dirt.
These intentions of mining gold require a lot of machines that process rocks and dirt at high speeds, which guarantees that something will break or wear out.
You need to repair the machinery constantly. And combined with that, there is the need to read the land, analyze the soil, and design an efficient washplant. This alchemy and suite of services is the secret sauce that Dodge and company serve up, which he details in Monsters and Critics’ exclusive interview where busy fixer, Mr. Dodge, spoke with us from the seat of a dozer today.
The results in Mine Rescue are genuine, and the resonating viewer reactions by way of ratings say that Freddy Dodge’s series is no fool’s gold and is the new shiny and natural iteration of Gold Rush that they’ve been waiting for since it debuted last year.
Season two is more personal as it weaves some other Gold Rush veterans like Jim Thurber into the mix, as witnessed in the recent episode, Dial F For Freddy.
And with 40 years of combined experience, Freddy and Juan are the ultimate mining masterclass teachers. Their shorthand communication style and clever bush hacks are marvelous to see made in real-time. Their wisdom and wit make Freddy Dodge’s Mine Rescue a Friday night superstar for Discovery across the board.
In the second season, Freddy and Juan are traveling even further and facing more demanding challenges than ever before in their quest to help miners in need.
Exclusive interview with Gold Rush legend Freddy Dodge
Monsters and Critics: You and Juan resonate so deeply with a new audience and the core fans.
Freddy Dodge: Yes. Well, our show IS real. We do all the work ourselves. We do most everything ourselves, and we’re incredibly proud of it.
And our show’s just honest. And if you read the social media comments, whether on the Gold Rush sites or our social media, it shines through when people see that Juan and myself are doing all the work and it’s real people out there that we are trying to help out.
M&C: What I find fascinating is you explain the mechanics of gold mining, the nitty and the gritty.
Freddy Dodge: Yes. So we try to explain how to do it correctly. It doesn’t just help the people with us onsite at their mines. It’s helping other people, those viewers you mention out there who are watching.
We are humbled to be the number one show in just the past couple of weeks. We’re on at the 10 o’clock hour, and we still hit number one after the other shows. Number one for non-sports and non-news is what we did. So we’re incredibly proud of that.
M&C: How far into the series are you?
Freddy Dodge: We are three weeks into the season. I got a lot of stuff to get done before Juan and myself head out and start helping other miners.
We have got a lot of places to go this season. We have a bunch of mines and miners we’re helping down in the lower 48 states.
There is the miner we’ve talked to in Alaska that would surely love our help and probably some places in Western Canada.
M&C: I have noticed that Gold Rush usually goes to Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the Yukon but avoids Idaho. Is there a reason for that?
Freddy Dodge: I believe we will help some miners out in Idaho later this year. And if everything works out, there are some miners there we will meet up with to see what’s up.
And I love Idaho. It’s a beautiful place. I grew up in Northern Colorado, high up in the mountains. Yes, I do believe we are heading to the Gem State eventually.
M&C: Todd Hoffman has Jim Thurber backed for his new show. Now, did he give up on the Sanger mine?
Freddy Dodge: I don’t know. Not sure If he gave up on it or not. I know that mine, and the workload and the lack of gold production had been pretty hard [for Thurber and his partners] when we were in there.
[Note: Oregon’s Sanger Mine has a long history of gold rush miners working the mountainside] I was able to find some pay dirt that the old-timers had missed.
But, we only had a week to spend there, so Juan and I had to do all the repairs and all of that machining and fabricating. So it’s hard to get out and survey the full lay of the land in a week.
M&C: You taught them to recognize spent old tailing piles where the vegetation had grown, fascinating.
Freddy Dodge: Yes. We didn’t want them mining spent tailings, and spotting the age of the tailing piles was what I was able to do as well.
I was able to age them. Those piles reminded me of where the old-timers left behind the tailings in the 1800s and those left in the depression years in the 1930s. I used plant life to figure that out as well.
M&C: You made a 167% increase for Jim, Bob, Glen, Cliff, and veteran Pete Candless, who had some touching backstory on him. You helped them all.
Freddy Dodge: Yes, well, as long as they have enough material to keep going, they ought to do reasonably well.
M&C: You have hopes for them if they can keep finding virgin ground and not spent old tailing piles?
Freddy Dodge: [laughs] Right, Yes. There are very few tailings around that are worth mining as far as placer mines. There are some, but not very many.
M&C: Pete’s personal story was touching. It wasn’t overdone. He talked about the military and how he used mining as his therapy. Do you find that many men attracted to this career use mining as some mental health therapy?
Freddy Dodge: I would assume. So. It’s just like going out fishing or hunting or something like that, except you have the chance of really finding something.
There’s a chance that you can find some material looked over that nobody had seen or discovered before.
So, it’s a gamble, and it is what it is, but it is a gamble, to put it quite simply. And a lot of people like to gamble. So instead of going that and doing other things, they go looking for gold.
M&C: I wrote down a quote of yours from that episode of Jim Thurber in the third episode, ‘Dial F for Freddy.’ And you said, ‘There’s very little about gold mining that is easy.’
Freddy Dodge: There isn’t. I mean, it’s a challenging and demanding game, and it could be a fun game as well, though.
You always have that chance. There’s always a chance, and there are still places where there could be a motherlode still sitting there.
You can hit that one pocket that has hundreds of ounces in it. And you can still do that with a shovel. But there are fewer of them around in the world, but there are still a few.
Yes. Many people think all the easy gold is gone, but it’s not. It just hasn’t been found yet.
M&C: And as mountains erode as gravity takes its toll, I’m maybe 30 minutes from the old mining town of Idaho City, and people go up there to pan.
Freddy Dodge: Yes. I’ve been up there quite a few times. But erosion doesn’t happen that fast, but there are pockets overlooked that have not been found.
The best processes for a placer mine take a couple of things. One is to have gold there, first, and then a lot of time to build up those really rich deposits [or gold ore] that settle in place.
M&C: What do you make of Dakota Fred’s methods of going into these raging Alaskan rapids? Is that something you would ever even consider?
Freddy Dodge: Well, I made my first suction dredge when I was probably 17 years old, but that area [McKinley Creek] has been worked over pretty hard where he’s at and mining.
And like back to the point I just made a moment ago, erosion doesn’t happen, and gold doesn’t get concentrated in a spot overnight.
It takes a tremendous amount of time. Or thousands or tens of thousands or millions of years to make a rich placer deposit. So when a deposit’s been mined out, it’s not going to replenish itself in a hundred years.
M&C: You and Juan, your relationship is a big draw in this series. I interviewed Juan a few weeks back, and he had so many wonderful things to say about you; he named his fourth child after you. How did you feel when he told you that?
Freddy Dodge: Oh, it was an absolute honor when he told me he was naming his son Freddy. It made me grin ear to ear. It humbled me, actually.
M&C: It is a genuine friendship. You just clicked from the get-go?
Freddy Dodge: Oh, we did. Yes. We became friends right away. We share similar interests, and we have similar skills. For example, both of us are welder fabricators. But early on, Juan had not been around the gold stuff.
So I’ve been teaching him over the years, and if there’s anybody that can learn fast, it is Juan Ibarra. He is an extremely intelligent person. So we’re very proud of this series.
And like I have said many times, there is nobody I’d rather travel the world with helping people than with Juan Ibarra.
M&C: Juan’s dragging a huge trailer. You guys make parts on the fly. That’s another exciting element of the show.
Freddy Dodge: He has a CNC Burn Table in that trailer!
M&C: There are no stores wherever you guys are, so you have to visualize the metal piece you need to weld and then hope that your sculpting skills will work?
Freddy Dodge: Well, I’ve been around the block and doing this for a long time. So, it’s easier for Juan and myself sometimes to look at something and figure out what works and doesn’t work, as we’ve been there before.
We’ve made things that don’t work. And we don’t want to do that again.
M&C: What was your biggest success story for season two, as a percentage increase or dollars pulled out?
Freddy Dodge: I don’t remember. I don’t. We met so many great people and helped many great people and families that none stand out as the best.
And I don’t remember which one we had the best recoveries on, but we helped every mine that we were at to fix issues.
And about what we’re doing for these people, it’s not just helping at this moment, but we’re teaching them and showing them things that they’ll have forever.
M&C: Even the audience is absorbing it like a sponge, the little details that make such a huge difference. I noticed that you give people the option of how to pay you for your services. Is it either upfront cash or an amount of gold recovered as they go on their business?
Freddy Dodge: Yes. Correct. Or, the one gentleman in Alaska, we didn’t charge him anything except the materials because he was down on his luck.
M&C: If someone wants to contact you, is there a process for this?
Freddy Dodge: If they need to go and contact us to work on their mine, they need to contact RAW TV Production.
So they have to go through the production company, pitch their mine and story, and then decide if it fits in the filming schedule.
After a new episode of Hoffman Family Gold, Freddy Dodge’s Mine Rescue airs Friday at 9/8c on Discovery. It will be available to stream the same day on discovery+.