Faro lies north of the Pelly River, of the Yukon River's longest tributaries and one of the first streams in the territory to be prospected. It was named in 1840 by trader Robert Campbell, who named it for Sir John Henry Pelly, a governor of the Hudson's Bay Company. Early explorers like Campbell noted that the Pelly was known to the First Nations people as the Ayan or Iyon River. This area has traditionally been used by both the Northern Tutchone and the Kaska peoples, who hunted, trapped and fished throughout the region. The Kaska of the area call the river To Dédés Tué': Clear Water River, or Ges Tué': King Salmon River. Although gold was prospected along the Pelly and its tributaries as early as 1883, it was a mineral discovery 70 years later that changed the area. A group of First Nations prospectors in the Ross River area alerted veteran prospector Allan Kulan to the occurrence of unusual coloured stains on Van Gorder Creek. In 1953 and 1956 Kulan conducted extensive exploration, finding evidence of lead-zinc deposits, but it was not until 1962 that real interest in the area picked up. Eventually 10,000 claims were staked in the region.
In summer 1967 the decision was made to go into production; two years later the territory's largest mine opened. The mine was Canada's largest lead producer and made a major contribution to the territorial economy. A new town was built to house the mineworkers. It was named after the card game Faro, as was the first claim staked on the orebody.
"Faro was the fairest of all the games when on the square, there being only six percent against the players..." William Johns 1895 (Yukon Archives, Coutts Coll.)
The game of Faro is one of the oldest played with cards. By the 19th century it was the most popular gambling game in the United States. It is a very simple game; players bet on whether a certain card will or will not turn up. The game is derived from the Egyptian pharaoh originally pictured on the king of hearts in the game.