Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dawson City -- Part I

A Quaint Little Village

What a "find"!  We had heard some chatter about Dawson City which is in the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush country, and were told not to miss it--sure glad we had good weather to come over The Top of the World Highway, for had we not been able to come that way, we might have passed on going around the long way to reach it!
And as has been so true all throughout this trip, we happened to stop here just as a major summer celebration was getting underway--Discovery Days!  So we put down our jacks and settled in for the five days of community activities, including our third community parade!

The Gold Rush Campground we lucked into is right in the heart of town and we could walk to most events and restaurants--but then, the town is not all that big, measuring about 8 blocks up from the river by 14 blocks along the river.  All the streets except for Front Street which is the main road along the Yukon River bank are gravel--or more like dirt!

Looking southeast along Fourth Avenue in Dawson City
The office and store of Gold Rush Campground--lovely flowers

One of the "famous" restaurants in Dawson City

The restored Post Office...a new one was built some blocks away!

Dawson City was the center for much of the Klondike Gold Rush which kicked off in 1898.  The village swelled to over 40,000 people who rushed to the Yukon Territory in search of their fortunes.  Most returned back to their homes after the disappointment of arriving here only to find nearly all the land already staked as gold claims by the prospectors who had arrived in 1897.  The news of the gold strike was slow to reach the outside world.
The village is located at the junction of the Yukon River and the Klondike River, and it was up on a creek off of the Klondike (Bonanza Creek) that the first gold discovery was made.  We drove up the gravel road to visit the largest gold dredge in North America.

This is Dredge #4 on Bonanza Creek

This is the digging end of the dredge...the arm was lowered into the earth and big buckets scooped up the gravel and hoisted it into the working environs of the dredge where it was filtered and washed to gather the gold dust.
The dredge had been working the Klondike River.  It was reassembled at the mouth of Bonanza Creek, and began working its way up the creek.  Its final resting place is 7.8 miles up the valley from the Klondike River.  All along the drive up the valley, piles and piles of gravel and large rocks are strewn all across the valley.  The dredge floated in its own self-made pond by digging up the gravel in front of it and spewing out the "tailings" from the rear.  The creek waters were diverted into the pond so the dredge could use the water to wash down the diggings to get out the gold flakes.  It was slow going...only moving forward by a fraction of a meter a day.

[Time to go to a "mud blog"....more to come later!!]

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