Gold at Fortymile Creek: Early Days in the Yukon

By Michael Gates | Go to book overview

10
DEATH OF THE MINERS' COMMITTEE

Flood of '96

The Yukon is exposed to dramatic cycles of change each year, from the extreme cold of winter to the heat of summer. The most obvious harbinger of changes in the weather is the state of the Yukon River: the formation of ice announces the arrival of winter, and the break-up of that ice announces the arrival of summer. Whereas the freeze-up is slow and subtle, the break-up is violent and dramatic.

As autumn arrives in the Yukon, a number of changes take place. The days become shorter as the equinox approaches. The temperatures decline, and by the end of August, the leaves are changing colour. For a period of two to three weeks, the countryside is clad in gold; then the leaves are gone, and the country takes on a rather drab, brown appearance. The first frost occurs in late August. Finally, the mosquitoes and other insects disappear until the following spring, and the tens of thousands of migratory birds wing their way south for the season. A curious calm envelops everything. With the decreasing temperatures, the streams and quiet pools develop a morning crust of ice, which grows thicker as the season progresses. Slowly, the ice forms along the banks of the Yukon River, thickening and growing out towards the current. The shore of the river recedes with the decrease of water in the colder weather, revealing extensive areas of the river bottom.

Arthur Walden described the transition of fall into winter:

Early in October, very thin sheets of ice, about three or four feet in diameter are noticed coming downstream; these are almost as thin as window

-106-

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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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