Jun 14, 2009 - Canada, Travel, Yukon    1 Comment

Good Thing I Didn’t Come For the Gold

Gold was the theme of the day.

Claim No. 6

The mosquitoes at Discovery Claim sure hit the jackpot with me today! 😀

It was the discovery of gold at this claim on Bonanza Creek that launched the Gold Rush of 1898. Today, you can park at the claim site and stroll down to the water to try your hand at panning for gold. I borrowed a pan and shovel from work and had fun spending about a half hour playing in the mud before the mosquitoes and frozen ground chased me away. I’m pretty sure I struck iron pyrite based on the number of gold-coloured flakes lying at the bottom of my pan. There is no way I am going to even think that they might have been real gold. 🙂

Dredge No. 4

Dredge No. 4 was one of several barges (set in man-made lakes) used to mine for gold from the 1930’s to the 1960’s.  How they work is a bit complicated to explain without actually being on site, but I’ll try. I’d say the nearest comparison is a mechanical shovel:

The dredge works on a similar pivot-system and has a thingamabob sticking out of it like the shovel of the digger. This thingamabob gobbles up all the gravel and dirt in front of it in a wide radius and sends it into the bowels of the dredge to be processed for gold. When all the gravel and dirt has been eaten, the dredge moves ahead. It spits out its back the unusable rock forming the Klondike’s famous rock piles called ‘tailings.’ I was surprised to learn that only four men where needed to operate these behemouths. That figure is misleading, however, since a ‘dredge camp’ had more than 100 employees.

The method for mining gold in the Klondike appears to be quite different than in Val d’Or, but this might be because of the permafrost here. There seems to be a lot of tourmaline and quartz in the tailings, so I think we can assume that Klondike miners are looking for the same thing as Val d’Or miners, but have a different way of getting at it.

Dredge no. 4 sank into muck in the sixties and in the eighties the decision was made to salvage it. Work on that project did not start until the early nineties. The lower level had been stuck in silt and ice for almost thirty years by this point, but the structure still came out mostly intact! They were even able to salvage the old floors. What impressed me the most, thought, was that the mechanical parts that had been buried for so long still worked perfectly.

Parks Canada now manages the site and gives a very good hour and fifteen minute tour ending with a ten minute video presentation of the raising of the barge. Well worth a visit!

The statistic I remember best from the tour is something I haven’t been able to confirm or deny. Apparently, Dawson City was the third city in North America to get electrical power after Chicago and Montreal. If that’s the case, I am very impressed!

Blog Widget by LinkWithinShare on Facebook
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

1 Comment

Got anything to say? Go ahead and leave a comment!