5 Things We Learned About Shawn Pomrenke From Mike Rowe

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Written By Monica

Shawn Pomrenke is famous for his work as a gold miner featured on the show Bering Sea Gold.

We get an inside look at the man behind the famous excavator barges on one of the latest episodes (289) of The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe.

Considering he jumps through holes in the ice to suck up gold from the frigid waters of the Bering Sea every winter, it is not surprising that there is more to Shawn than meets the eye. So, here are five things we learned about Shawn Pomrenke from Mike Rowe’s interview.

“There’s been a few times where I’m like, ‘I’m not going to make it out of this f*** ice hole’”

– Shawn Pomrenke, The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe

1. Dropped Out of High School

Despite being very successful, Shawn dropped out of high school after finishing 11th grade. On top of that, he moved out of his parent’s house at just 16 and took a job in the service and heavy equipment industry.

It was there that he built on the mechanical skills his father, Steve Pomrenke, taught him as a boy. Those skills would serve him well as he built his gold mining empire throughout his adult life.

2. Feels Relaxed at the Bottom of the Sea

Feeling relaxed at the bottom of a sea might be more believable if Shawn mined gold in the Caribbean, but, no, he mines gold under at least 4 feet of ice in the unpredictable waters of the Bering Sea in Nome, Alaska.

Considering that without the proper equipment, people can die within a couple of minutes after falling into the frigid waters of the Bering Sea, it seems a bit absurd that Shawn feels relaxed down there.

But he explained that he’s used to being in the Bering Sea and finds the whole experience peaceful. As he says on the podcast, “it’s just me and the gold down there.”

3. Doesn’t Change How He Acts When on Camera

At first, when Shawn started to be filmed, he held back because he didn’t want to look dumb. He also didn’t want to give away his trade secrets.

However, after the second season, he decided to just be himself and not care what others think. He explained how failure is just a part of life and shouldn’t be hidden.

“It’s the attention to detail that you’ll never figure out because it takes experience to get to that.”

– Shawn Pomrenke, The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe

He was also okay with showing his trade secrets on camera because he realized that attention to detail is really what matters and not many are willing to do the hard work to get where he is.

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4. Had Multiple Close Calls

Shawn has had his fair share of close brushes with danger and death.

There were times when Shawn’s equipment failed because compressors, pumps and such don’t work well in the kind of cold weather common in the sub-arctic Nome in the winter.

Three memorable times he ran out of air and thought he would faint before making it out of the water. You’ll have to listen to the episode to hear these harrowing stories.

5. Still Plans to Build a Mega Dredge

Mr. Gold still plans to build a Mega Dredge, just not THE Mega Dredge we’ve been hearing about for years.

He wants to train others on how to use it to help the next generation of gold miners in his home city of Nome. Then, he plans to retire and sail around the world. He went on to say that the people of Nome are special because of how they have to live. Due to how remote the city is, the people there are very adventurous and self-sufficient. It takes a special kind of person to live year-round in Nome.

Final Thoughts

All in all, Shawn Pomrenke didn’t get where he is by sitting around. He is a hard worker who is able to effectively mine gold from the sea floor due to his ingenuity, guts, and work ethic. With the highest gold totals year after year, Mr. Gold has more than earned his nickname.

You can watch part of the interview below or listen to the entire episode below the video.

Listen to the entire podcast below.

Real Gold by Emily Riedel from Bering Sea Gold

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