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125 years ago there was a momentous find in the Yukon. Gold. Not just the odd nugget of gold, but slabs of the stuff lying between the rocks in the creek. And so began the infamous Klondike Gold Rush. This discovery began a stampede of more than 100,000 prospectors, who made the treacherous journey through the Yukon to find their fortune.
At the heart of the Klondike is Dawson City where there are touches of the gold rush in everything, from jewellery to coffee beans to outdoor art. A great way to immerse yourself into this charismatic city (population less than 1,500) is to take a walking tour through the historic buildings – the guides wear period costume which really creates a special atmosphere. At Dawson City Musuem you’ll find stories of adventure, survival, mystery and industry. Explore the galleries and exhibits, and follow the growth of the region from its original First Nations Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in settlement to the eclectic town that exists today.
Dawson City (Credit - Enviro Foto)
At Claim 33 Goldpanning and Mining Museum you’ll receive instruction on panning technique then you can find your gold. They say a find is guaranteed but if all else fails you could buy a “paydirt to go” – small bags of paydirt containing gold. If you’re feeling lucky once you’ve mastered your technique, head to Free Claim #6 for an authentic panning experience. At Free Claim #6 you get to keep everything you find but with no pans and no teaching on site, you’ll need to come prepared and find your own perfect spot in Bonanza Creek to “shake” and “swirl” your way to finding gold. Did you know that…. Before Dawson City’s first bank opened in 1898, everything was paid for in gold nuggets and gold dust, carried around in caribou skin pouches called “pokes”.
Panning for Gold (Credit - Enviro Foto)
At Discovery Claim you can transport yourself back to August 1896 and discover the very spot where Skookum Jim, Dawson Charlie and George and Kate Carmack stumbled upon gold. This legally defined mining claim measures 500 by 2000 feet and is located on Bonanza Creek (formerly Rabbit Creek), a tributary of the Klondike River. Take a walk along “Discovery Trail” to learn about this momentous find and the subsequent endeavours that triggered one of the greatest migrations of the nineteenth century. Discovery Claim has been designated a National Historical Site, along with Dredge No. 4 – a massive mining machine which stands 18 meters high amid the rough and rugged Klondike Gold Fields.
Gateway to the Yukon is Whitehorse where you will also be able to learn more of this fascinating period. Those with bags of energy can canoe some of the Yukon River route that the gold seekers took from Bennett Lake to the Klondike. Alternatively you can board the beautifully preserved SS Klondike paddlewheeler for a guided tour. The MacBride Museum in Whitehorse is home to over 40,000 artefacts which illustrate the stories of the Klondike Gold Rush as well as the Yukon’s First Nations.
There's never been a better time to enjoy this spectacular region of Canada with the 125 Anniversary celebrations running this year and next. You can discover the Yukon and it's fascinating history on this lovely fly drive holiday - In the Footsteps of the Yukon Pioneers Self-Drive Tour. Or combine your discovery of the Yukon Gold Rush with a unique opportunity to experience the Northern Lights in the vast clear skies of the Yukon - Northern Lights and Klondike Gold Rush Experience