The discovery of gold on Bonanza Creek sparked the Klondike Gold Rush. It is one of the richest creeks in one of the richest goldfields in the world.
Bonanza Creek was originally called Gha dak, by the Han-speaking Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people, and Rabbit Creek by the miners. When the first claims were staked on the creek, the miners changed the name to Bonanza.
Soon after the discovery, miners staked claims all along Bonanza and Eldorado creeks and then spread out to stake Hunker and Bear creeks.
By 1904, the Klondike was to largest gold-producing field in Canada and the fourth largest in the world. At a time when gold was valued at less than $20 per ounce, a few of the Bonanza Creek claims produced more than a million dollars in gold and claims worth a quarter million were common.
There are working claims throughout the Klondike region. Please respect private property and do not trespass.
The Klondike Goldfields area is approximately 2600 km2 although not all of it is rich in placer gold.
A placer deposit contains water-borne sand or gravel containing heavy metals that have eroded from their original source. Over many thousands of years, gold deposits were sorted and concentrated by the continuous action of ancient rivers and streams.
This area was not glaciated in the last ice age so the placer gold deposits were not disrupted by advancing and retreating ice.
Placer gold miners use water and gravity to duplicate the natural forces that created the original placer deposit.
Paydirt (gravel, sand and gold) is washed down a sloped sluice box. The heavy gold is trapped by constructed obstacles. Big rocks are pulled from the sluice before they disrupt the process.
The gold-rich creeks of the Klondike Goldfields radiate out, in a general way, from King Solomon Dome. This prominent hill separates the tributaries of the Klondike from those of the Indian River.
The Goldfields Loop is 76 km long. The road from Grand Forks to Hunker Summit is narrow and winding with steep grades. It is not suitable for large motorhomes.
In 1898, Robert Anderson applied to the government to allow the grouping of claims in leases or “mining concessions”. Anderson believed that hydraulic equipment working a large area could make a profit mining even marginal ground. The first mining concession was approved despite opposition from small mine owners.
The Guggenheims, famed American entrepreneurs, acquired a block of claims on Bonanza and Eldorado creeks. They amalgamated their holdings as the Yukon Gold Company in February 1907. Within a year of being established, Yukon Gold owned 90 percent of the Bonanza, Eldorado and Hunker creek claims.
Yukon Gold Company operated as many as nine electric dredges until 1926 and also used hydraulic monitors to mine millions of cubic years each season. Yukon Gold ran a power plant on the Chindandu River and constructed the 113-km Yukon Ditch to supply water for their hydraulic operations.
Guggieville, located on this spot, had warehouses, stables, a machine shop, pumping plant, blacksmith shop, assay office, gold room, residences and a mess house.