Gold at Fortymile Creek: Early Days in the Yukon

By Michael Gates | Go to book overview

7
YEARS OF CHANGE

Beginning with the Fortymile stampede, the pace of life in the Yukon kicked up a gear. The discovery of coarse gold in the bed of the Fortymile River was enough to stimulate the interest of many Juneau men and, from then on, a steady stream of prospectors surged into the Yukon every summer in search of their own mother lode. For the next decade, Forty Mile became the major supply point for miners in the Yukon Valley.

This was also the beginning of many changes for the prospectors who came into the Yukon. The supply of food and other merchandise became both more abundant and more diverse. Small comforts, such as decent stoves, became, for the first time, commonplace. Liquor began to flow into the Yukon valley and the mouths of the men who dotted the countryside. For the first time, there developed a small corps of men who spent their time, not looking for gold, but serving the miners, and saloons began to establish themselves as social centres. The miners who came into the Yukon earlier in the decade, and who later formed the Yukon Order of Pioneers, considered 1888 a turning point, after which, in their eyes, the integrity of the newcomers declined.

Fort Nelson, which only a couple of years before had been the centre of community life on the Yukon River, was an abandoned shell. When George Snow first arrived at the site in the summer of 1888, he found vacant cabins with 'sagging ridgepoles, windowless openings and gaping doorways ... Desolation was the keynote of the whole scene." 1 Stripped of anything of value, the cabins looked as if they had been abandoned for ten years rather than for one. The trading post was boarded up, and a

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Gold at Fortymile Creek: Early Days in the Yukon
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS ix
  • PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xi
  • 1 - Early Days: The First Gold-Seekers Arrive 3
  • 2 - The Chilkoot Pass and Early Transportation 9
  • 3 - Early Developments on the Yukon River 18
  • 4 - The Miners' Code 25
  • 5 - The Fortymile Stampede 32
  • 6 - Strangers in a Strange Land 44
  • 7 - Years of Change 51
  • 8 - Forty Mile: Anatomy of a Gold Rush Town 68
  • 9 - The Arrival of the North-West Mounted Police 88
  • 10 - Death of the Miners' Committee 106
  • 11 - Circle: The Largest Log City in the World 115
  • 12 - The Discovery of Gold in the Klondike 129
  • 13 - Epilogue 146
  • APPENDIXES 151
  • Notes 169
  • Bibliography 187
  • Index 195
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