Discovery

The construction of streets became a major problem, the first summer when the wagons were used the streets it soon became an impossible quagmire, the wagons would be hub deep in the muddy streets as some pictures show. Slabs from the saw mills were laid down and sawdust spread on them, the sidewalks were raised up well above the muddy streets, and where a street crossing was need more slabs were used and the crossing would be planked so that people would be able to get from one side of the street to the other. ( picture of a muddy street scene)

The information for this manuscript comes mainly from the early Dawson News papers much of it taken directly from the papers as it was when published.

DISCOVERY

Robert Henderson, was prospecting on a small creek he called Gold Bottom, he found a gold prospects that went ten cents to the pan, which was considered very good. Being low on supplies he made a trip up the Yukon River to Joe Ladue’s trading post near the mouth of the Sixty Mile river, for supplies while there he told Joe Ladue of his discovery. On his way back to his camp due to the fact that the water in Indian River, was very low, he thought it might be easier to go by way of the Klondike river, knowing that Gold Bottom, drained into a tributary of the Klondike. On arriving at the mouth of the
Klondike he met George Carmack, and his Indian companions. He told them of his find and invited them over,to have a look. He made the mistake of telling Carmack that he did not want his Indian friends.. A few days later Carmack decided they should go and have a look at Henderson’s claim, he and his two friends, Skookum Jim,”Keish” and Tagish Charley, “Kaa Goox”. (In the mining records these two men are recorded as, Tagish Jim and Tagish Charlie) When they got there the Indians were out of tobacco and tried to buy some from Henderson who refused to sell them any. When they left, Bob Henderson told Carmack that on his way back to check out Rabbit Creek, if they found anything send oneof his Indians back to let Henderson know. When they arrived on Rabbit Creek it was late in the afternoon of August 16,1896. While the others were setting up Camp Jim was walking around looking for a spot that might be worth sampling. He kicked aside a piece outcropping of bed rock, when suddenly he spotted what looked like gold, he called George to have a look, what they found was two pieces of bedrock with gold in between like a cheese sandwich. Carmack started panning and the results were startling , it wassuggested that someone should go back and tell Bob Henderson but neither Skookum Jim nor Tagish Charlie would go.

The next morning August 17th they staked their claims with George staking the discovery claims, at the same time they renamed the creek “Bonanza” (photo of post with Bonanza on it) When Carmack and his friends arrived at Forty Mile to record their claims they showed the gold and told where they got it, the rush to the new creek was on, within a short time the new creek Bonanza and its tributary Eldorado were staked from end to end.

Circle City on the Yukon River in Alaska was next to find out about the new gold discovery many of those living there made their way to the new Bonanza Creek.

The Alaska Search Light paper in Juneau AIaska, of November 6, 1897 told of new discovery on Bonanza creek Gold was found on the hills adjacent to Skookum gulch by a prospector who scraped the moss off of me ground and found nuggets of gold under the moss. Hundred’s of hillside claims were staked in a short time. It reported that two men picked up $800 worth of coarse gold in a single day. The paper reported that the population of Dawson by this time was 4,500 and there were hundreds on their down the river.

Muddy-Dawson-StreetA team of horse bogged down on Front St. near the corner of Queen St. This was a common occurrence on the Dawson streets in the first few years. The only time the streets were good was in the winter when “Jack Frost” made then passable. The Monte Carlo Theater can be seen on the extreme right, the Dominion Saloon and Gambling hall can be under construction, this is a 1898 picture. Dawson Museum, Mrs. Louise Black Collection PH984R-76-1-54

The few steamers on the river had delivered between 1,600 to 1,800 tons of supplies, food, clothing and hardware during the summer navigation season. Nearly everyone in Forty Mile, Fort Cudahy and Circle City were in Dawson by the 10th of June, it was estimated that there was in the neighbourhood of some 6,000 people by fall who would be depending on Dawson for supplies. The last supply boat to land in Dawson was on August 22, on September 13 a heavy snow storm occurred. There were seven boats on their way up river from St Michael, not one of them was expected to reach Dawson before freeze up.

©John Gould

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