John Schnabel was a famous American miner and a TV star who appeared on the show Gold Rush on Discovery Channel. Not just a gold miner, John was a legend, a mentor, a hero, and a friend to many. He was born in Kansas, but his adventurous spirit led him to Alaska where he faced many challenges and hardships, but he never gave up. He worked in a sawmill business, served in the US Army, became the mayor of Haines, and raised a loving family. But his greatest passion was gold mining. He bought the Big Nugget mine and turned it into a profitable operation. He also taught his grandson Parker everything he knew about mining and life. He was an inspiration to millions of viewers who watched him on the show Gold Rush. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 96, but his legacy lives on in the hearts of his family, friends, and fans.
John Schnabel was born on the 11th of February 1920 in Kansas, USA. Born in the rural part of Kansas, John comes from a family of farmers. His father owned a wheat farm but lost his land during the Great Depression and became a moonshiner. Late, his father fled there to escape the law for making moonshine.
John had to work hard to support his mother and siblings. He began working at the age of 12 as a paperboy. He moved to Alaska in 1939, at the age of 19, John arrived in Haines, Alaska, on a steamship. He saw Alaska as a place where he could be successful and make his own destiny. He joined his father helping to run a sawmill and worked as a logger, a carpenter, a mechanic, and a fisherman.
World War II:
When world war II broke out in 1939, John decided to join the army. He joined the US Army Air Corps after the attack on Pearl Harbor and served his country from 1941 to 1946. He witnessed the horrors of war and vowed to never let it happen again. He returned to Haines with a renewed sense of purpose and passion. He became the mayor of Haines for several terms and was involved in many community projects. He was a generous and kind man who loved his family and friends.
At the recommendation of his doctors, John bought a claim at Porcupine Creek in 1984 and named it the Big Nugget Mine. He bought the mine as a place to take his children and grandchildren in the summers. He got more involved in gold mining and started making more money from the venture. He became a legendary gold miner who found fifty ounces of gold with several large nuggets in one day at a section of his claim called McKilrevie Bench. In the meantime, he taught both of his grandkids how to look for gold. Now, both Payson and Parker are the core crew members of Gold Rush.
Gold Rush & Net Worth:
In early 2009, John was approached by the executive producers of the Discovery Channel for an all-new reality show. John loved the idea and became a reality TV star when he appeared on the hit Discovery show Gold Rush, which followed several families as they searched for gold in Alaska. He entrusted the mining operation to his 16-year-old grandson, Parker Schnabel, in 2011. He was always around to advise and support his grandson, who looked up to him as a mentor and a hero. He shared his wisdom and humor with millions of viewers who admired him for his spirit and resilience.
Even though John was around for the first two seasons, his health didn’t allow him to be on the third. So, he handed the reins of the Big Nugget Mine to his grandsons and started taking a passive role. He survived a heart attack, prostate cancer, and old age. He celebrated his 96th birthday in 2016, surrounded by his loved ones. He passed away peacefully on March 18, 2016, leaving behind a legacy of gold and glory. He was an inspiration to many and is dearly missed by his family and fans. John Schnabel had a net worth of $5 million at the time of his death in 2016.
Wife and children
John was married to longtime wife Erma Dire and had five children. The pair had been together ever since 1950 until death did them apart. Sadly, John Schnabel passed away on the 18th of March 2016 at the age of 96. He died peacefully in his sleep. His life was also celebrated in Gold Rush where they did a tribute episode in his honor.
An official statement from the Schnabel family read, ‘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.’