Yukon - Return via Dawson City

7/11

Took the Top of the World Highway over to Dawson City to stop for the night. The highway wasn’t as bad as some campers said  (wimps).   It was a great ride,  very scenic.  Dawson City is famous as a Klondike gold mining town and there are old gold dredges and tailings along Bonanza Creek.   Had to ferry acrross the Yukon river to get here. 

Yukon ferry

Yukon ferry

It is a short  trip  - quick and professional and free.  

 Streets are gravel -1800 residents.   Diamond Tooth Gerties is in operation - may catch the show tonight. 

Diamond Tooth Gerties

Diamond Tooth Gerties

It is also a gambling hall.     Took a layer of dust off the van at a carwash - still needs a good wash.

Diamond Tooth Gerties was a lot of fun  - great piano player

Piano and Drums

Piano and Drums

 2 good singers and 4 great dancers.

Diamond Tooth Gerties

Diamond Tooth Gerties

Looked at some of the gold dredges  - am not sure of exactly how they are powered and exactly how  they work  - will try to get that figured out tomorrow.  The principle is simple  - a continuous chain of buckets scoop gravel out of the river bottom and then  water is used to seperate the heavier gold.  They moved these things along the streams - the remnants of the tailings are still obvious.

Gold Dredge

Gold Dredge

 This is the Pedro dredge  in Chicken  Alaska.

Check out http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Bluffs/8336/robertservice/spell.html

We went by reproductions of both Robert Service and Jack London’s cabins in Dawson City.

 

Went out to Dredge # 4 and took a tour - it is a site of Parks Canada now.   It is the largest wood hulled dredge in North America.

Dredge diagram

Dredge diagram

 

We got very lucky and had a tour from Sue - a lady that mined gold extensively with her husband and knew all about the dredge. It was the forth one built by a guy named Boyle who got financing from the Rothchild family. He got an industrial concession of 40 square miles along the Yukon River. Sue told us a lot in an hour and I can’t repeat it all here, but it was interesting.

Dredge #4

Dredge #4

Buckets

Buckets

The buckets weighed over a ton and would scoop up more than that  - there was a continuous line of the them scooping up the gravel.

The thing was run by electricity from a hydroelectric plant he built in advance to supply the dredges.

Gears

Gears

Dawson City was the second place to have electricity in Canada – after Montreal. # 4 weighed 3,000 tons. It worked its way up pretty small creeks. There was an advance crew that removed the topsoil, and melted down thru the permafrost to the gold bearing gravel. The giant (over a ton each) scoops on a chain brought the gravel up - a 200 hp motor ran that.  It was something like a giant chain saw.  Then it went into a drum that rotated at 8 rpm

Tumbler

Tumbler

, then finally into sluices that separated out the gold. The drum took 50 hp. The dredge arm could be moved about 180 degrees by pivoting the barge on huge points in the creek bed. They moved forward after the excavated in front of them and then winched themselves forward. It only took 4 people to operate the dredge – but many more on the ground in advance and support crew. The tailings came out a conveyor back to the stern of the boat - and they are still piles of them around all of the local creeks.

Tailings

Tailings

Sue explaining the control room. 

Control Room

Control Room

It cost half a million to build and paid for itself in the first year. One year it made a million - back when that was big money.

 Passed the turnoff to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories – could see why some people turn up that road. - but lots of gravel there.

Invuk turnoff

Invuk turnoff

 

Drove down towards Whitehorse to stay in a campground on Tatchun Creek, just before it flows into the Yukon. Heard it was good fishing for Salmon and grayling, but It was closed yesterday for fishing - —guess the kings are coming up. The Yukon River is closed for fishing to 800 meters south of where it comes in It is a small Yukon Provincial campground - free firewood and only a dozen sites - for $12

 

Bought a buffalo sirloin tip in Dawson City and cooked it on the fire tonight - along with pan fried potatoes and broccoli and onions. 

Camp food

Camp food

 Some mosquitoes here - Alaska mosquitoes are not that big of a problem, at least  where we went and the time we went there; seem to bit more in the Yukon - but it depends on where you camp.

 

Will stop at Whitehorse tomorrow - about 100 miles south of here - then stock up and rejoin the Alaska highway. Prices were high in Dawson City, bananas were #1.30/pound for example. Beer was about $5.75 at Gerties. We fueled up in Fairbanks and then topped it up in Tok– should be good to Whitehorse - not that stuff is a great bargain there. We are heading for Laird Hot springs and then Dawson Creek and the end (beginning) of the Alaska highway.