Colorado Man Strikes it Rich During Vacation in Nome
With a name like Fortunato, fortune did smile on Joe Fortunato, a 65-year old tourist from Westminister, Colorado doing some prospecting at Betty Krutzsch’s AKau Gold and Resort near Anvil Creek.
On day 11 of his Nome vacation at the gold resort, Fortunato ran his metal detector over an area that had shown some color before and then struck it rich.
“You always hear about these kind of stories, but you don’t think it could happen to you,” Joe Fortunato said. It did. Fortunato said his metal detector started sounding the alarm and he started digging a few inches through the dirt before he found a pigeon-size gold nugget. “When I first saw it, I didn’t think it was a nugget,” Fortunato said. “I thought it was a rock covered with dirt.” Fortunato said that a friend had been in the same area the day before and found some gold. He as well has been running his metal detector over it, but he said, he had not paid close enough attention to the task. “I’d gone right past them,” he said. But on Tuesday, June 26 Fortunato had his mind on the game. Holding the heavy dirt covered nugget in hand, the gold shone through and Fortunato realized what he’s found. Giddy with excitement, he kept digging and found a second gold nugget about the same size. And then the metal detector went off again. Fortunato dug yet deeper into the earth and a few feet into the ground, he found a hunk of a gold nugget, weighing in at about four and a half ounces.
The nuggets are his to keep, says Augie Krutzsch who runs the gold resort with his mother Betty Krutzsch. The Krutzsch’s have operated their mine for years, but this year, they have opened their claim to visiting prospectors. The Krutzsch’s have built guest cabins and offer visitors the chance to try their luck prospecting with metal detectors as well as high-banking with sluiceboxes.
Fortunato has been dreaming of coming to Alaska to prospect all his life. He said, this was his first trip to Nome and he’ll likely be coming back, next time with his wife. “I will treasure this forever,” he said. At 65, he is still working at his business manufacturing machine parts for spray-painting equipment and computers. He said the three nuggets would be his forever. “No way, I’m gonna sell them. They’ll be in a glass case on top of my mantelpiece for me to look at,” he said with a big smile.
This article originally appeared in the Nome Nugget. It is re-printed here with their permission.