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Happy Camp 2008
Dale Temple Carnagey was born in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on October 10, 1947 as the firstborn of Temple and Mildred (Smith) Carnagey and went to sleep in the arms of his Lord and Savior at the VA Hospice Center in Spokane, Washington on January 9, 2009 at the age of 61 years.
His boyhood years were spent in Harrison, Idaho where he never tired of finding an adventure to embark upon. At the age of 7½ years he welcomed his baby sister since Dad had “eliminated” his pet billy goat!
Dale loved the outdoors and often got both himself and his sister, Barbie, in trouble with Mom because of his stunts! His playground was the woods and lake—hiking, fishing, sledding, ice skating, rock collecting and dreaming of finding gold! Many hours were spent entertaining his sister, cousins and friends with wild tales of adventures they were going to share and the rest of the time found him devouring books.
In his late teens Dale moved to northeastern Washington (Curlew, Danville, Republic and Kettle Falls) near the Canadian border to live with his aunt, Elizabeth Schultz. He earned his living working in the hay fields and small lumber mills as well as learning the roofing trade. This trade became his chosen profession making him well known as one of the best and fastest cedar shake roofers throughout eastern Washington and North Idaho as well as northern California. He was unafraid to tackle any roof no matter how difficult.
When he was 20 years old he joined the Marine Corp and served two tours in Viet Nam as a communications operator in the DaNang area. Compassion for the Vietnamese people often got him in trouble with his commanding officer.
After leaving the military, Dale returned to his work as a roofer, many times roaming the United States. He could find work anywhere and made friends wherever he went.
His passion to find gold was unending and it was a great joy when he discovered the New 49ers Club in Happy Camp, California. This beautiful getaway became his “escape” whenever work would slow down. Although he didn’t strike it rich he loved the challenge and was thrilled with each “find”.
Always ready to experience something different, Dale joined a Karate Dojo in Spokane, Washington at 50 years of age. He would be on the roof all day, and then go to the practice, amazing others in his group. It was not unusual for him to do 135 one-hand push-ups or 175 sit-ups!
Dale was diagnosed with cancer in February, 2008 but after surgery and radiation, he again journeyed to Happy Camp where he enjoyed two months on the river. Although the cancer destroyed his body, his spirit remained strong to the end, endearing himself to his Hospice nurses and leaving family and friends with many special memories. Often times his room was filled with laughter as stories of his adventures were shared. He was our “tough old Marine” right to the last!
He is survived by his son, Lucas, of Cheney, Washington; father, Temple Carnagey of Hayden Lake, Idaho; sister and brother-in-law, Barbara and Alan Sain of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; two nephew, Michael Sain of Spokane, Washington and David Sain of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; one uncle, Shirley Carnagey and one aunt, Leanna White, both of Kent, Washington as well as numerous cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his mother, Mildred Carnagey.
Dale, you leave behind an empty place in our hearts but we hold close the memories we have of a very special and courageous man. We love you and will miss you so much.
Memorial services will be held at His Place Church, 3079 E 16th Avenue in Post Falls, Idaho on January 24, 2009 at 2pm. For further information please email
It was a great honor to be friends with Dale Carnagey. He was one of those rare individuals who always looked up to and appreciated everyone he knew. He had a way of making you feel special. We did a lot of work together and shared some great adventures over the years. Dale was one of those colorful kind of guys that added a fun spice to the chemistry just by being present.
One thing was for sure: No matter where we were, or how many people were involved, Dale was always the hardest worker amongst us, always with a smile on his face.
Back in 2005, I was driving down the Salmon River Road one day and decided to look over the very steep embankment to see if Dale was running his dredge. My timing was good, because Dale was in the process of dragging the Keene side-by-side triple-sluice box from his 5-inch dredge up the hillside by himself. That sluice must have been 100 pounds, and it was bulky; a challenge for any strong man to carry alone on level ground! He had it about half way up the hill. It was the last part of his 5-incher; he had already brought all the other parts up the hill, including the 11 horsepower Honda motor and pump that was even heavier than the sluice! Worst is, he was only using ¼-inch rope to pull himself up the hill. No, he wasn’t wearing any gloves. Man, that must have hurt his hands! The hillside was nearly straight up and down! I climbed down and helped him the rest of the way. It was tough with both of us working at it. But I have no doubt that Dale would have succeeded without me if I hadn’t arrived.
Dale had already made a strike in that spot, but had a hunch that another place further downriver was going to be better. That new place had more difficult access than the first one! When he was packing the 11 HP down there, he lost his balance and went into a tumble down the hill. His body was all scraped and banged up, because he refused to let go of the motor. Anyone else would have let it go. Actually, most others would not have attempted going down there even without gear. A few days later, Dale brought a 3-ounce clean-up into my office. Then he offered to share the deposit!
Dale was so full of hope and adventure that he never stopped thinking about it. He had a new dream every time I talked to him.
I’m fortunate that Dale and I spent some good times prospecting together this past summer. Even though the cancer treatment made him look old, he never stopped grinning, and he never stopped hoping.
As he was looking strong again by the end of the summer, I asked if he would participate in some paid consulting work that I had landed down on the South Fork of the Yuba River. This involved a very long hike down a steep grade, both in and out of the project site. We camped down there for about a week. The project involved heavy physical labor and long hours. Mark Chestnut was there also. Mark will confirm how hard we worked. Dale set the pace. We all tried to stay up with him. He was just that kind of guy.
It was during that project (this past September) that Dale said he was worried that his cancer might be coming back. He said he was experiencing some pain in his mouth, near where it had all started before his treatment. He wasn’t complaining. But he mentioned that he was going to go get it checked out after the project.
On the last day of the project, two of the guys on my crew needed to stay down in the canyon and load our gear into nets for helicopter extraction. Someone else and I were going to have to hurry out of the canyon so we could unload the cargo nets being hefted by the helicopter. I chose Dale to race out with me. We really humped it out of there! We pushed it as hard as we could on the final mile, because we heard the helicopter arrive down in the canyon and wanted to be waiting when it arrived with the first load. While I set the pace, Dale stuck with me all the way out. He was that kind of guy. But the cancer had to already be catching him, because I set the pace this time.
Shortly after the project, Dale did get himself checked. After some tests, his doctors told him that the cancer had already spread to his lungs and there was nothing they could do. As I was on a project in Asia by that time, I sent him a farewell message in case I never saw him again in this life. I never did.
I’m sure whatever is next for that kind spirit, it is a good thing; a really good thing. He had enough dreams to last an eternity. I can see him charging his way up some hill just ahead of the rest of us, certain that a rich pocket of gold is just around the next corner. He’ll be wanting to share it with all of us just as soon as we catch up.
He was a true friend, and I’m going to miss him.
Wherever Dale Carnagey ends up, that’s where I want to go when my time is up on this earth.
Dale truly was a unique (in a good way) guy. Sometimes he was a little hard to understand (he didn't talk real clearly but that was balanced because he couldn't hear to well either!), but the constant smile on his face always let you know where his heart was. He will be missed.
Dale came in the store in mid October I believe it was talking about the 2009 season and how he was looking forward to dredging again. The gold he is getting now is better than that we have here on earth. A special man with a special spirit...
The last time I saw Dale Carnagey was in early August 2008. I was leaving town after spending three adventure filled weeks dredging for gold along the Klamath. Dale was breaking camp and heading to the upper Klamath claims to track down a strike Dave had put him onto. He hit the paystreak on his first day I am told. He had been camping upstream at( k-15a I think) with Craig, Mike, Otto and other “characters of questionable repute” You only had to meet this man for a moment to know that his heart had more gold in it than all the rivers in the world. I wish I had known him better. I even found some gold while I was in happy camp but meeting Dale was the best strike I made last year. It’s like He said, “ It’s hard to let go of those nuggets”. For all those who knew Dale the following video clip is a nugget we will never have to let go.. My deepest sympathies to his family.
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