Todd Hoffman is the star and creator of Gold Rush. His crew and personality propelled the show to be the highest rated show on Discovery. He dominates the key male demographic of 21-54 and has over 170 Million viewers worldwide.
The first season (show named Gold Rush: Alaska) featured six men from Sandy, Oregon, a small town 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Portland, who, due to the economic downturn, have lost their jobs. They decided on an all-stakes gamble – travel to Porcupine Creek, Alaska and prospect for gold. Most of the people on the show have little or no previous gold mining experience and must learn on the job.
In season 2, (show renamed to Gold Rush) Todd misses a lease payment on Porcupine Creek and "Dakota" Fred Hurt buys the claim from owner Earl Foster, not needing to honor the lease due to the missed payment. The season explores the Hoffman crew's new mine at Quartz Creek, in the Klondike region of the Yukon, Canada as well as "Dakota" Fred's operation at the site of the original Hoffman mine, Porcupine Creek, and Parker Schnabel's attempts to mine his grandfather's property at Big Nugget Mine.Porcupine Creek (Hurt et al.): 80.4 oz (2,280 g) $125,000
Big Nugget Mine (Schnabel et al.): 34 oz (960 g) $55,000
Quartz Creek (Hoffman et al.): 93.5 oz (2,650 g) $150,000
The third season began in October 2012. The Hoffman crew returned to the Klondike to once again mine the Quartz Creek site but also brought on additional crewmen to simultaneously work another site in the area. But, with Hoffman having delays and equipment trouble at his site, they decided to merge. Parker Schnabel returned to the Big Nugget Mine site with larger and more efficient equipment, while "Dakota" Fred Hurt and his crew returned to the Porcupine Creek site.
The Hoffman crew mined 803oz. of gold earning them over $1.28 million, Parker and Dakota Fred mined 191oz. and 163oz, respectively, worth over a quarter million dollars each. This in comparison to the first season where nobody recovered more than 50oz. of gold.
The fourth season began airing August 2013 and started with a pre-season episode called "The Dirt" featuring interviews with all of the teams featured in season three. "Gold Rush: Guyana South America" features the Hoffman crew in South America, Parker Schnabel guest-mining on new land with mentor Tony Beets, and "Dakota" Fred Hurt and his son Dustin mining at Cahoon Creek, a hard-to-reach, post-glacial area mined only with pickaxes in the late 1800s.
The real Season 4 premiere was October 25, 2013.
The Hoffman crew mined barely 2 ounces of gold and were forced to pack up and leave their Guyana mining operation; the Dakota boys mined 280 oz.; Parker and his crew mined 836 ounces by the end of the season. He then stayed and continued mining with Rick and picked up an additional 193, bringing his season total to 1,029 ounces. Parker's $1.4 million haul not only broke Todd Hoffman's single-season record of 803 oz., but also eclipsed Hoffman's entire four-season total.
The two-hour Gold Rush Season 5 premiere kicked off Friday, October 17, 2014, at 9 PM ET/PT with The Dirt airing beforehand at 8 PM ET/PT on the Discovery Channel
By season's end, Parker mined 2,538 ounces totaling just under $3 million and the Hoffmans mined 1,349 ounces totaling just over $1.6 million.
The two-hour Gold Rush Season 6 premiere kicked off in the US on October 16, 2015, at 9 PM ET/PT with The Dirt airing beforehand at 8 PM ET/PT on the Discovery Channel, while the UK premiere was on October 20, 2015.
Aftershows and specials
Numerous "aftershows" and specials have been produced that document behind-the-scenes action, additional footage, as well as interviews with miners and crew.
Gold Rush: The Jungle
Between the second and third seasons, Todd Hoffman and several crew members traveled to a remote site in Guyana in South America to determine the feasibility of opening up an operation there during the Klondike offseasons. The trip was covered in a single one-hour episode. Although they did discover gold on the claim site, it was not of a sufficient quantity to cover the high expenses of mining the remote site which was accessible only by hiking through a trackless jungle after a harrowing river passage. While the Hoffman crew does go to Guyana for season 4 a year later, given the low probability of profitability, Hoffman chose not to pursue the venture for season 3. The episode ended with doubt about whether they would return.
Gold Rush: South America
Between the third and the fourth seasons, Todd Hoffman and several crew members traveled to South America to prospect for gold in Peru, Chile, and Guyana. This was covered in several episodes, in a summer season for Gold Rush.
- The Big Nugget mine used a crew of 4 for season 2 (Parker Schnabel crew), and 5 for season 3 (Parker Schnabel crew).
- The Jim Nail Placer Mine used a crew of 7 for season 1 (Hoffman crew), 2 (3 at times) for season 2 (Dakota Fred crew), and 3 for season 3 (Dakota Fred crew).
- The Quartz Creek mine used a crew of 7 for season 2 (Hoffman crew), and 6 for the first half of season 3 (Hoffman crew).
- The Indian River mine used a crew of 6 for the first half of season 3 (Dave Turin crew), and 13 for the other half of season 3 (Hoffman/Turin crew).
- The Q.O.D. Mine used a crew of 10 for season 4 (Hoffman crew).
- The Scribner Creek Mine used a crew of 6 for season 4 (Parker Schnabel crew), and 8 for season 5 (Parker Schnabel crew).
- The McKinnon Creek Mine used a crew of 8 for season 5 (Hoffman/Turin crew).