Gold was officially designated the state mineral of Alaska in 1968. The Alaska Gold Rush brought thousands of adventurers and schemers to Alaska and the Yukon in the mid 1800's and again early in the 1900's when gold was discovered near Fairbanks. They all came dreaming of riches - their dramatic frontier stories are both triumphant and tragic.
Gold has physical and chemical properties that make it precious for more important things than jewelry, coins, or even art. Gold is stable (rarely combines with other elements to corrode), very dense but still extremely malleable, and only silver conducts electricity better than gold. This makes gold a critical resource in dentistry, medicine, and scientific and electronic instruments.
Gold is an element with the chemical symbol Au (from the Latin word aurum, which means "shining dawn"). Probably the oldest precious metal known to man - its beauty and scarcity has resulted in bitter conflict over the course of history by humans trying to gain or protect it.