Gold Before Silver
In 1898, three members of the Gustaveson family, a father and two sons, struck a rich deposit of gold on Duncan Creek. They kept their claim secret until four other prospectors found their cabins and a water-powered sawmill in 1901. The Gustavesons left the country with a fortune and one of the four newcomers, Duncan Patterson, staked Discovery Claim on the newly named Duncan Creek. The strike attracted prospectors who mined and prospected along the creek and its headwaters, Lightning Creek.
Two centres were established during the rush. Duncan Landing, at the mouth of Duncan Creek was the location of the mining district office. A sternwheeler stop on the Stewart River was homesteaded by George Gordon in 1902 and named Gordon Landing. Gordon Landing was not the best dock for the Stewart River paddlewheelers. A new business centre was established at Mayo Landing in 1903 and the government built a 39 km wagon road from that landing to Duncan Creek. In 1904, George Gordon and “Jake” Davidson cut a competing 18 km wagon road on the trail from Gordon Landing to Mayo Lake but a bridge was required over the Mayo River and the longer road from the more popular Mayo Landing became the major transportation route.
The Duncan Creek Road
The 1901 Duncan Creek gold rush brought men into the region and activity along the creek peaked in 1903. Placer gold deposits on Highet and Haggart creeks stabilized the population of the district at around 80 miners by 1904. The road from here to Highet Creek was put through that year and a winter overland stage road was started from Dawson to connect with the Mayo area roads.
In the early 1920s the Duncan Creek Road was extended to the Treadwell Yukon silver mines on Keno Hill and a number of Duncan Creek buildings were dismantled and moved to the new camp. Most of the gold recovered during this time came from the Mayo Lake area. The Duncan Creek Road was a central access road to the region.
Duncan Creek proved to be one of the area’s poorest gold-bearing creeks. Fred Field, an early gold prospector at Field Creek, a tributary of Duncan Creek, became a homesteader and opened a roadhouse for the horse-drawn wagon traffic. Homesteading was hard work and Charles Stone hauled manure to his Field Creek property for two months trying to fertilize ground that was mostly cobbles left by a retreating glacier.
→ Next Edge of Beringia
← Previous Minto Bridge