Gold at Fortymile Creek: Early Days in the Yukon

By Michael Gates | Go to book overview

8
FORTY MILE: ANATOMY OF
A GOLD RUSH TOWN

Eighteen ninety-four represents a significant milestone in the development of the Yukon valley. The exploration for gold-bearing gravels by the small army of prospectors was starting to pay off; a number of new discoveries were made and were increasing production yearly. With the growing population of Whites in the Yukon valley, the scattered community was teetering on the brink of some dramatic changes.

Everyone in Forty Mile that spring was holding his/her breath, waiting for confirmation of the rumours they had been hearing from Birch Creek, Alaska. On 29 July 1894, the steamer Arctic arrived, and the rumours were confirmed. As soon as the freight was unloaded, fifty miners took their outfits and stampeded for the new gold fields. 1 The previous fall, Jack McQuesten encountered seventy-five miners at the new riverside community of Circle, waiting for his boat. They had laid out a townsite, and thirty log cabins were under construction. Soon the names of such creeks as Deadwood (formerly Mastodon), Eagle, Hog'em, and Independence were a common part of the local vocabulary.

Meanwhile, a new rich discovery on Glacier Creek in the nearby Sixty- mile region slowed the exodus from Fortymile. The creek was quickly staked for fifteen miles, and claims were selling for as much as $2,000. 2 A few miles from Glacier Creek was Miller Creek, the richest and most productive creek in the Yukon. Although it was only six miles long, this creek had more than one hundred men furiously working the fifty-four claims along its bottom. Though they drift-mined in the winter, the bulk of the work was hard labour in open pit mines in the short, intense summers.

-68-

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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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