Friday, July 31, 2009
Dawson City, Yukon Territory
We actually pulled into Dawson City on “Day 7” – but it made more sense to just keep DC as its own separate entry. One of the “adventures” of getting into DC is crossing the Yukon River.
Since there is no bridge, the territory runs a small ferry. I mean small. I mean like once we drove on, it was full small.
I’ll try to post some video of our “drive across the Yukon” – (uploading the video not going so well – sorry!)
But Dawson City – what a great little town!
DC was where the Klondike Gold Rush started. Dawson grew from being a bend in the river to a town of 30,000 once word of the gold strike got out. Of course once everyone got there and realized that all the claims had been, well, claimed they didn’t all stay. The minus 40 degree winters might have scared a couple away too. But for those who remained, Dawson City became the bustling hub of activity (and civilization – they had all utilities just about from the beginning of its existence) in the Yukon Territory.
(July 31, 2009)
In fact, it was the capital of the territory until 1952 when roads replaced the river as the main means of getting supplies in and the gold out and the state offices moved to Whitehorse. Today Dawson City is still that frontier town – dirt streets, boardwalk sidewalks, and many original storefronts.
Farsighted town leaders made sure that no golden arches would spoil the Gold Rush feel of the community. Gold mining is still the number one industry in town. Tourism is number two. We didn’t concentrate too much on the gold mining (after all, Gary had his big gold find back there near Moose Pass), but certainly enjoyed all of the history of the area. We took in a great walking tour of the town,
a tour of the Commissioner’s Residence,
caught several videos about the gold rush, mining, and the town, heard an talk on Jack London (author of Call of the Wild (among others) who was one of the 1898 Gold Rushers) at the Jack London cabin (moved from the bush to the outskirts of town), walked around the Y.O.O.P. cemetery (that would be the Yukon Order Of Pioneers)
and enjoyed a fun Can-Can show at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s.
(and because Gary was doing all the planning for that, we managed to do it all in just over 24 hours. We even slept!) Dawson City was a GREAT stop!
Side note –
This is a picture of the Yukon as it runs in front of Dawson City. It’s where the Yukon and the Klondike Rivers join together. Interesting how they aren’t quite co-mingling at this point!
We left town in the early afternoon, heading south with Whitehorse (still the capital of the Yukon Territory) in our sights. We knew we wouldn’t make it (it was over 300 miles down the road), but we figured we’d drive until we were tired. We drove about 4 hours. The views were pretty obscured by the smoky haze,
but we did stop at this pretty Gravel Lake. Apparently (according to the sign) it’s a big stopping over place for waterfowl in the spring and late summer. Guess in late July they are already where they want to be and haven’t yet begun their journey south.
The Big Black Flies, on the other hand were very friendly.
We parked for the night at a pull off by this little creek where the smoke didn’t seem too bad.
I didn’t do too much exploring because the mosquitoes there hadn’t seen any fresh meat lately and they had quite a welcoming celebration upon our arrival. But it was nice and peaceful , and even though the smoke found us by the middle of the night, it had cooled off enough to close the windows and turn off the fan.
Day 8 – Dawson City to Crooked Creek Bridge – 118 miles. Fun town, hazy views, peaceful nights.
(Real time update – 8/1/09 – 7PM Pacific time -We made it to Whitehorse and after spending WAY TOO MUCH $$ at the laundramat, Gas Station (you don’t even want to know that one!) and the grocery store, we searched out some wifi. We were striking out (even the library let us down) and decided to just grab a Quizno sandwich and call it a day. Email and blog would just have to wait a couple of days. While Gary was over getting the sandwich I checked for any available wifi – and much to my surprise there was some available from the nearby Staples (we were in their lot!). I was glad to be able to do this quick update before we head back into the wilds tomorrow!)