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'Gold Rush: Alaska': John Schnabel, not the Hoffmans, living true American Dream

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

As John Schnabel recovers from a heart attack in Hines, Alaska, it becomes clear who is really living the American Dream on the Discovery Channel's Gold Rush.

The Discovery Channel hit Gold Rush: Alaska began its first season with the premise that a bunch of guys from the lower 48 were giving up their day jobs and betting it all on striking it big in Alaska. They knew nothing about mining, except for a little time elder Hoffman, Jack, spent digging for gold many years ago, but, with hard work, courage and perseverance, they were going to make it happen.

Well, viewers of the show know how that went.

UPDATE: 'Gold Rush: Alaska' ends season with broken machines and no gold (VIDEO)

Now, in season two, the Hoffmans, having been claim-jumped by “Dakota” Fred Hurt, have been pushed up into the Klondike and are digging around in Canadian dirt for the shiny yellow stuff, with little more success than they had in their rookie season. They seem to just guess their way through decision making, which could explain why none of their plans seem to work. But, even though they are likely not going to come close to breaking even (again) this year, they continue to adamantly proclaim that they are living the American Dream.


Back down in Alaska, at Porcupine Creek, John Schnabel has been digging along at the Big Nugget Mine for a good 26 years. This season, he saw his 17-year-old grandson, Parker, take the reins for the first time at the mine. And, although it is beginning to appear that the ground at Big Nugget is simply played out—it’s been mined for 26 years, after all—seeing the excitement Parker has for gold mining had to be a thrill for his grandfather.

This week, it was revealed that the 91-year-old John had suffered a heart attack. Parker was visibly distressed, as one would expect, and seemed to be contemplating for the first time what he would do without his beloved grandfather.

But, don’t count John out too soon.

The elder Schnabel had a couple of stents inserted, and he was ready to go home, tired, but more spry than many a man literally half his age in America today. Back in Hines, AK, he was met by family, and was overcome with the joy of seeing how much they care, as they gathered around, insisting that he take it easy for at least a few days and let them take care of things for awhile, including taking care of him while he heals.

A family you love and who loves you in return; a hometown you love living in; and a trade you love so much that, even at 91, you just want to get back to it and get going. And, top it all off with overall good health that allows you to keep going and enjoy all of these things that you’ve accumulated over your lifetime. That, it seems, is truly the American Dream come true.

John Schnabel, not the Hoffmans, is the real example of the American Dream on Gold Rush.

Gold Rush airs on Friday nights on the Discovery Channel at 9 p.m.

UPDATED: Schnabel Family just finds the joy of living

Image: Wikimedia Commons


Submitted by trapperjohn (not verified) on
Your my Hero, Best wishes on your recovery...I wish I had 1/10 of our outlook on life.......

Submitted by JAQUEBAUER (not verified) on
What a guy, a wonderful man John Schnabel is. Parker is amazing for his young age, but I don't think he understands how dangerous conditions are, and seeing some of his stunts operating heavy equipment tells of his ignorance in safe operations. But, many a man has escaped death and injury flying by the seat of his pants. The Government guy was acting like a jerk, but if what he did saved a life in the future it was the right thing to do. As a guy with decades of work in heavy industrial operations, I can attest to dealing with the reams of regulations, codes and laws. The bottom line is they exist to save lives, however bothersome they are. These folks are living a dream I will never experience in real life, as age and illness has caught up with me. But I can watch these amazing folks work their dream every week on Discover Channel.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Mr. Schnabel and Parker appear to have it figured out, they are in it more for the adventure and spirit of it all. They choose to remain in their beloved Alaska. The Hoffmans, on the other hand, are the outsiders who show up with all their bells and whistles, with only one thing on their mind, PROFIT. If it wasn't for environmental oversight I kinda of get the idea that the Hoffman crew would bulldoze a quarter of the entire state in their quest. Yeah, profit is what it's about, but, you got to be in it for the adventure too.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
The Schnabel Family are amazing and a complete joy to watch during the gold season. Wish John speedy recovery . Obviously apples do not fall far from the tree in Alaska

Submitted by watney streeter e1 (not verified) on
what a lovely feller, a true gentlemean, old skool i wish them all the best in there quest , and john heres to another 91 years, good luck god bless,

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