Topic: McGeorge Brothers Gold Dredging

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The McGeorge Brothers were the main partners of two successful gold dredging ventures - the Electric Gold Dredging Company in the lower Kawarau River and the McGeorge Brothers Gold Dredging Company in the Waikaka Valley, Southland.

Four brothers of the McGeorge family - John, Joseph, Alex and James were principal members of the very successful Electric Gold Dredging Company which operated three gold dredges in the lower Kawarau River over the period 1895 - 1919.

Their dredges were steam powered - the company's 'Electric' name came from a light-hearted reference to a bottle of 'Electric Essence' which had been sitting nearby at the time when a suitable 'shareholder-attracting' company name was required. The dredges were initially named the Electric No. 1, Electric No. 2 and Electric No. 3 - this dredge also being christened the Lady Ranfurly. Dredge numbers changed over time with the sale and purchase of replacement dredges.

The Lady Ranfurly made the best returns for the company, recovering 1234 ounces (over 38 kg) of gold for the week ending 7 July 1902 and 1273 ounces (almost 40 kg) over 4 1/2 days dredging in November 1904.

The company and its operations were eventually split into two parts and publicly listed. Shortly after this event the McGeorge brothers took less of a 'hands on' role as their gold dredging interests moved further south. They purchased land in the Waikaka Valley of Southland and between 1902 - 1923 operated three gold dredges as the McGeorge Brothers Gold Dredging Company.

Dredging flat paddocks held none of the extremes of a Central Otago climate and fluctuating river so their outgoings were noticeably less and their returns for this venture were consistently productive.

On 27 June 2014, Russell McGeorge, a grandson of founding partner Joseph McGeorge gave a presentation to a Central Otago REAP (Rural Education Activities Program) U3A (University of the Third Age) group in Alexandra. The two videos of the talk provided below discuss the Kawarau River and Waikaka Valley operations of the McGeorge Brothers.


McGeorge Brothers - Part 1 Kawarau River



McGeorge Brothers - Part 2 Waikaka


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McGeorge Brothers Gold Dredging

Categories:Heritage Theme » Gold and Heritage Theme » Mining » Gold Mining