Trail #2 - Ridge Road Heritage Trail, Km. 4

Yukon Ditch

Photo from Yukon Ditch

The Yukon Ditch was built by the Yukon Gold Company in 1906 at a cost of $3 million. The Ditch was a system of wooden flumes, steel and wood pipe and open ditch. It transported water from the Ogilvie Mountains to the hydraulic mines along Bonanza Creek.

Here you can see the ditch, spillway and pressure box of the Trail Gulch diversion. Water from this ditch was used to wash gold from the white channel gravels above Bonanza. A watchman monitored the water volume and repaired any damage that might occur to the wooden controlled gates.

The Boreal Forest Rebounds

The trees around you are part of the vast boreal forests. This belt of trees, dominated by conifers, encircles the northern hemisphere. Both white spruce and paper birch grow on the dried spoils of the upper slopes. Hardy black spruce dominate on north facing slopes and other areas with permafrost. Aspens thrive on the south-facing slopes with no permafrost. In the Klondike, nearly all of the forests are second growth. The stampeders harvested lumber for sluice boxes and cabins. They and the dredge companies burned huge amounts of wood to melt the frozen muck covering the rich gold-bearing gravels.

Trail of Gold

The hillside mines below you mark the Klondike's hidden secret: the white channel gravels. The first Klondike miners staked their claims on the main creek beds, the obvious sites for placer gold. The old hands laughed when some new arrivals began prospecting on the hillsides. But the newcomers had the last laugh. Some of them discovered rich gold-bearing gravels in ancient streambeds located 30 metres above the present valley floor. The white channel gravels formed a trail of gold down Bonanza, Hunker and Bear creeks. Some of the Klondike's richest claims were mined from these hillside benches.

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