"Gold Rush" star John Schnabel, one of the great Alaskan gold miners on the Discovery show died Friday morning. He was 96.
Schnabel's family broke the news he passed away peacefully in his sleep, saying ... "He was a true legend."
Schnabel was a military vet who got into gold mining later in life when doctors suggested he keep active after a triple bypass. He became an anchor on Discovery's hit gold mining show -- which focuses heavily on his grandson, Parker Schnabel.
Parker took over responsibilities at the Big Nugget Mine when John's health declined.