Monday, July 4, 2016

Dawson City ~ Gold Rush ~ Yukon

Dawson City is a designated National Historic Site and rightly so.  A visit to this city takes you back in time to the Klondike days of the gold rush and the life that was all part of that.  Many of the buildings have been restored or refurbished and offer a realistic and colourful display of the past.

Downtown Dawson City, Yukon
There was nothing here previous to the gold strike in 1896 but when that became public information in July 1897, Dawson became a city almost overnight.  6.000 people arrived before winter came with thousands more to follow which started the gold rush of 1898.  Dawson City soon had a population of 30,000 people. The current population is 2,000.

Perma frost results
These buildings were built in 1901 and originally a hotel, photography studio and a hardware store.  They’ve been left in their natural state to demonstrate the progressive effects of having heated buildings on permafrost ground.  Permafrost damage rates the second most destructive only to fire.

Miner's tribute Dawson City River Walk
We spent some time at the Dawson City Museum which is in a beautifully restored old administration building.  It had some very interesting displays plus we watched an award winning “City of Gold” film narrated by Pierre Berton in their theatre.

Klondike Spirit on Yukon River 
The Klondike Spirit is the only paddle wheeler operating in the Yukon.  It began in 2007 and offers historically narrated tours with dinner.  Most of the river boats of the past were sternwheelers and although both were powered by steam engines, those paddles were at the rear or stern of the boat.

View from the Dome
The Dome is the place to visit to see the spectacular view of Dawson City and the Yukon River below. Our visit was during some seasonal wildfires in Alaska and smoke along with the clouds may have been slightly distracting, but it was a great view.

Yukon River from the Dome
As is still done today, the first group of 150 visitors came up to the Dome to watch the midnight sun at the summer solstice June 21, 1899.  To their disappointment, the sun set one half hour before midnight and rose two hours later.   The Dome still remains a popular spot to celebrate long summer nights.

Diamond Tooth Gerties
One of the busiest places in town was Diamond Tooth Gerties.  This is a casino and did have the modern day slot machines in there but the best part and what brought us here was the live show in the old fashioned hall with “Gertie” a great singer and entertainer and her showgirls, who kept the energy high.
Robert Service Cabin
Robert Service left this rented cabin in 1912 but it soon became the Yukon’s number one tourist attraction, it symbolizes the legacy of the Klondike Gold Rush.  Jack London lived in Dawson City in 1897/98 to prospect gold but due to scurvy had to leave.  He later became a famous author with his many books based on life in Alaska.  Pierre Berton, a famous Canadian historian and author lived in Dawson City until he was 12 years old then went back and worked in Klondike mining camps during his university years.  Each of their homes are historical sites in Dawson City, Yukon.

Dredge #4
A dredge is a floating sluice plant used to dig for gold.  We went for a tour of the largest gold digging machine of its kind in North America, out at Bonanza Creek, where the famous gold rush began.  The Dawson City area mined 88% of all gold mined in Canada and Dredge #4 recovered 8 metric tons of that gold over 46 year period.

Bonanza Creek Tailings
The sight that greets us just outside of Dawson City is the tailings that are the result of the early mining days.  They are the waste that is left after the gold has gone through the many screens and sluices.  Not the least bit attractive, but they are part of the story of the Klondike gold rush days. 

We are on our way up the Dempster Highway when we leave Dawson City, click here, so much more to see.

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