Sharing passions through history

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Andrea Prewett
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


In the 1860’s ten men in Idaho sought out to find gold in the Boise Basin, and they found it. This finding set one of the largest migrations in America into motion. As more gold was found, the more people moved to the area, which continues to this day. This history is what drew U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chris Christman, Vehicle Maintenance, 266th Range Squadron, to buy a claim in the Boise Basin 10 years ago.

Christman has always been fascinated with mining. 

“My dad has done it since before I was born, and then one day my brother in law took me to mine,” said Christman. “All it took was one trip and I was hooked. I went out and bought a claim and some mining equipment.” 

Since then, as his love for mining grew so did his number of claims.

“It started out as a hobby with one mining claim, which has since turned into 10 mining claims.”

Christman has also been on Discovery Channel for his participation in two episodes of Gold Rush and continues to educate other service members and educate them on Idaho's gold history. 

Frank Bettencourt, Mountain Home Air Force Base Outdoor Recreation programmer, learned of Christman’s gold claims and reached out to him to see if he would like to put together an Outdoor Recreation Gold Prospecting trip.

With Bettencourt’s “prospecting,” Christman was excited to have the opportunity to host service members on his claim.

“Absolutely, I would love to get people involved with mining, it’s a part of the state's history and how the state was founded.” responded Christman.

Bettencourt also has a passion for gold mining.

“I have always been a prospector at heart so I knew that I wanted to set something like that up at ODR,” said Bettencourt. “After some research I had learned that Chris owned a claim, so I reached out to him and he volunteered his claim for us to use along with all of his mining equipment.” 

Chris really enjoyed the experience and would like to continue working with ODR in the future to bring people to his claim.

“I would love to do this again in the future to get people in the community out,” Christman said. “The best part about gold mining is it’s always an adventure, you never know what you're going to find and even if you don't find anything you had fun trying and got to spend some time out in nature.”

Since March 2020 with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic many events, such as the gold mining trip, involving large gatherings needed to be cancelled or modified to ensure the health and safety of our Airmen and their families.

“The 366th Force Support Squadron has worked hard to adapt program offerings to be COVID safe, coordinating with public health, ensuring safe transportation, added allowances for participants to drive themselves on trips and have implemented a rigorous cleaning regimen on equipment,” said Maj. Ryan Davis, 366th FSS commander. “Our staff continues to reinvent themselves to connect our Gunfighters and their families with outlets for morale and resilience. The Outdoors are open and we are always looking for our base populace to come out with us.”

If you have any questions or concerns about outdoor activities and how to do them safely, please give the 366th FSS Outdoor Recreation a call at (208) 828-6333.