May 29: Goldrush Campground & RV Park, YT
The first order of the day was to hike some of the trails at the Klondike River Campground. It was here that we came upon yet another beaver pond.
Dawson City is where the Klondike and Yukon Rivers come together and continue to flow north and west as the Yukon. Crossing through Alaska, the Yukon River empties into the Bering Sea.
One of the most prominent feature of Dawson City other than the Yukon River is the landslide just north of town.
Thanks to Parcs Canada, Dawson City is a well preserved Gold Rush town. Many of the buildings have been restored and some have been rebuilt.
The Sternwheelers started their journeys up the Yukon in Whitehorse. For most, their destination was Dawson City. The SS Keno is preserved on the banks of the Yukon. A Parcs Canada guide explained the operation of the Keno in much more detail than was provided in Whitehorse.
We also toured the Palace Grand Theatre. Originally built in 1899 by American showman Arizona Charlie Meadows and restored by Parcs Canada in 1962. With its bar, shows, dancing and percentage girls, they collected the gold from the pockets of the miners that collected it from the ground.
A sharp eye will reveal that our guide for the SS Keno was the same gentlemen as at the Place Grand. Luckily for us, it was an exclusive tour on both occasions.
Kathleen Rockwell, (a.k.a. Klondike Kate) gained her fame as a dancer and vaudeville star during the Gold Rush. She gained reputation for being flirtatious and her ability to keep hard-working miners happy, if not inebriated, and spending that hard earned gold. We lunched at a restaurant named after her.
Gertie Lovejoy (a.k.a. Diamond Tooth Gertie was another Yukon dance-hall queen, named for the sparkling diamond she wedged between her two front teeth. Gertie made a fortune relieving miners of their gold nuggets. She once commented, “The poor ginks have just gotta spend it, they’re that scared they’ll die before they have it all out of the ground.” Today, Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Casino Hall entertains visitors to Dawson City.
Frost Heave is a major issue in the north from roads to construction. When building were built on the permafrost, they heated the ground and caused the frost to melt. Frost Heave was the result.
It took awhile to realize that they needed to build their buildings with open space between the floor and the ground and their roads raised up on mounds of stone; even though, that is not a perfect solution as evidenced by the roads.
Below are a couple of pictures to show the local flavor is Dawson City today.
A closing thought in the words of Robert W. Service, British-Canadian poet:
Next on our itinerary is the Top of the World Highway into Alaska.