Kluane Gold Rush
In 1903 the discovery of gold near Kluane Lake, on Ruby Creek, caused a rush of prospectors and gold miners into the region. The discovery was made by Keish (Skookum Jim) and Káa Goox (Dawson Charlie), Tagish-speaking men already famous for their roles in the discovery of Klondike gold.
Louis and Gene Jacquot, originally from the Alsace region of France, came from the Klondike Goldfields to prospect near Kluane. They established a trading post at Burwash Landing about 1904. First Nation families from the upper White and Donjek rivers would stop there to trade during their seasonal travels. Taking advantage of the location and their skill as chefs, the Jacquots and Thomas Dickson started one of Yukon’s first big-game outfitting businesses.
The Jacquots hauled their supplies from Whitehorse and constructed warehouses on the east side of Kluane Lake to stockpile their goods before ferrying them across the lake. Kluane, later renamed Silver City, grew to be a sizable community with a North-West Mounted Police post and a mining recorder’s office.
Charlie Baxter, a hunting guide from Whitehorse was also active in the Kluane region. Baxter often hired Morley Bones, an early prospector on Bullion and Sheep creeks. Bones stayed in the area to become a successful fox and mink rancher at Silver City.
Lù’àn Män - Big Whitefish Lake
Kluane Lake is the largest lake in Yukon. The Southern Tutchone name (Lù’àn Män) and the English name are probably variations of the Tlingit Lùxh-àní (whitefish country). Kluane Lake is a good place to fish for whitefish, trout and chum salmon but it can be quite dangerous when the wind picks up.
The Kluane Lake people travelled up Ä-äy Chú (Slims River) to the Kaskawulsh River and Jarvis Creek on their seasonal travels to hunting and fishing grounds. They set fish traps along The Kala Dagür (Brooks Arm) and hunted in the mountains around Ǜa K’ènji (Talbot Arm) for sheep, moose, and caribou. The Aishihik people also hunted in the Ǜa K’ènji region and both Kluane and Aishihik people travelled as far north as Cheghär Män (Tincup Lake).
Before the trading post at Burwash Landing was established in 1904, the most permanent settlement on Cheghär Män was at Män Shì-aya (Silver City). This was a busy fish camp and the coastal Chilkats would come here to trade. When the Kluane Wagon Road was built to Silver City, many Kluane people moved away to Burwash Landing, K’ǜa Män (Kloo Lake) and Shär Lū (Bear Creek).
A wagon road, constructed from Whitehorse to Kluane Lake in 1904 ended near the First Nation fishing village of Män Shì-aya. This community became Kluane in English and was later called Silver City. Just past this point, road construction near the Slims Rivers was very difficult. The river meanders and dumps huge amounts of silt into Kluane Lake. Supplies and equipment bound for gold-bearing tributaries of the Slims River were boated from Silver City across Kluane Lake when the water was calm.
When gold was discovered in Burwash Creek in the 1920s, the Kluane Wagon Road was extended around the lake and the population of Silver City declined. The town was virtually abandoned by the mid-1920s.
The Alaska Highway was constructed generally following the route of the old Kluane Wagon Road. Silver City was briefly populated again, this time by residents in the barracks and buildings of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. On the hill above you is the place where two construction units met and an official ribbon-cutting ceremony opened the new Alaska Highway on November 20, 1942. Hike the one kilometre interpreted trail for wonderful views of Kluane Lake and the Slims River delta.
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