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We had now begun the last I knew that he was doing twenty miles of the dreary his utmost. By two o'clock trail, and I was anxious to I could see the smoke of the reach Dawson before nightfall. encampment on Klondike river; "Do your best, boys," I said, another half hour and I could as we started,"we're close distinguish several log - houses log-houses on the promised land, now; in the distance. Now we were and they did their work nobly. within a mile, now half a mile Both of them, using all their vast strength, strained and tugged at the sleigh ropes and drew their heavy loads over the rough ice in a way that I have never seen equalled. Dave seemed to know that something special was required of him that day, and pulled like a horse. We were making very good progress, and if it were kept up we would reach our destination that night. At twelve o'clock we had done twelve miles, but the trail was becoming worse and worse. "Only another eight miles !' I cried, as we clambered over an unusually high mountain of ice. Mac groaned dismally, but exerted himself manfully; and by the deep laboured breathing of Stewart behind,

less and less the distance grew, as we struggled on in Indian file over the now continuous fields of blown ice. I now saw crowds of men gathering outside the nearest loghouses and gazing in our direction. Keep it up, boys; we're just there," I shouted, and my companions looked up to see before them them the straggling array of houses and camps that, beside the Yukon and stretching up by the banks of the Klondike river, constituted Dawson City. A few minutes more and we drew up amid an excited and curious assembly of miners, who hailed us with loud cheers. We must have presented a strange spectacle with our clothing, torn and cut by the blown ice, hanging

in rags, our moccasins bound in tatters to our feet, and our white visages framed in icicles. We were immediately surrounded by a crowd of men, who took our sleighs in tow, escorted us to a good camping

ground, then helped us to erect our tent; and, while Mac and Stewart attended to the cooking of our evening meal, I went outside and detailed to an appreciative audience of miners the latest news from civilisation.


Klondike goldfields, properly speaking, are limited to the basin of the Klondike river, which is a hundred miles long. The mines are chiefly on the tributaries, and not, as is generally supposed, on the main stream, the Bonanza and its feeders, especially the Eldorado, being the richest creeks in the district. I have read prospectuses of companies formed to work various claims in the Klondike district that I know from experience will never yield an ounce of gold; indeed, beyond a few miles radius from Dawson City there is very little gold to be found in the valley.

Bonanza Creek empties into the Klondike about one and a half miles from the mouth: it is twenty-five miles in length, and has its source at the foot of a large mountain called the "Dome." Eldorado, its tributary, is seven miles long, its confluence with the Bonanza occurring twelve miles from the mouth of the latter. The Klondike itself, in the summer season, is a broad and rapid river, much too deep and rapid to find favour with alluvial miners. In the winter it is frozen into a solid mass, and some miners then work underneath its icy body, although

the gold obtained rarely pays the labour. Nothing is generally known, even in Dawson, of the source of the Klondike, and previous to our arrival no one had explored beyond thirtyfive miles from its mouth, and that point is at the foot of some unknown spurs of the Rocky Mountains.

The claims are pegged out by the sides of the mountain creeks, the most important of which are the Bonanza and Eldorado before mentioned, then Gold Bottom, Too much - Gold, and Quartz creeks; but I prospected another small frozen stream some distance from the rest, and found it to be very rich indeed. It was soon christened Skookum Gulch, and now contains some of the richest workings in the country. Quartz Creek was so named from the fact

of some gold - bearing quartz being found in its neighbourhood, and for some time this little stream was much exploited; but the results were very disappointing, although payable gold was certainly found in several claims.

Too-much-Gold Creek was known only to the Indians, but shortly after our arrival a party of us sought them out in their mountain home and bartered

with them for their knowledge. They insisted that it contained "too much gold for white man," but we assured them that its quantity would not trouble us in the least, and after much argument they gave the desired information. It is nearly thirty-five miles from Dawson City, and contains a fair amount of the precious metal, although it cannot be compared with Eldorado or Bonanza.

Placer or alluvial gold is nearly always pure, but in this country it contains traces of iron, lead, and silver: these base metals, of course, decrease its worth, and as a result Klondike gold is nearly a sovereign less in value per ounce than the gold of Western Australia. The country rock is a slate and mica-schist formation, but ironstone is also abundant, and owing to its influence the gold is distinguished by a fine rich


Klondike gold is also the coarsest in the world, and there is not much danger of losing it by careless handling if once the pay-dirt is obtained. Unlike that of other countries, the gutter above bed-rock here can be recklessly washed in a goldpan or rushed through a primitive sluice-box without fear of losing even a trace of gold. Here there is no "dust in the correct sense of the word, as that is generally composed of fair-sized specks that in many other countries would be classified as small nuggets.

We were not long in Dawson territory before we had prospected and secured a valuable claim on one of the principal


We lost no time in building a log-house near at hand, and then our attention was given entirely to digging the gold from the frozen ground. I should not say "digging," for there is really no digging done, the hard ground being broken up in a much more novel manner. No pick or spade can penetrate the frozen crust of the earth, which is of a flinty nature to a depth far exceeding "bed-rock.”

A huge fire is made over the place where where the prospector intends to sink his shaft, and after burning for an hour or more, it is cleared away, and the ground underneath, which has been thawed, perhaps, to a depth of several inches, is hastily scooped out. The firing process is repeated again and again until bed-rock is finally reached; but this end is not usually attained within several days at least. The shaft, when sunk, as may be imagined is very irregular, being neither square nor round, and is very unlike the deep oblong hole that is sunk with mathematical precision in Western Australia and elsewhere.

"Bed - rock is the term given to the original bed of the stream, and just above this level lie the gold-bearing sands. Sometimes bed-rock is 10 feet deep, sometimes 15, but 12 feet is a good average depth at which to find it, although in exceptional cases 20-feet shafts have to be sunk. An inexperienced miner will sometimes in ignorance penetrate this bottom, if it happens to be of a soft formation, and I have known

this done on many occasions. is really the only possible season However, by giving careful at- in which to excavate the ground, tention to the many strata for in summer the too plentiful encountered, and noting the supply of water proves even a difference between the usu- more formidable enemy than ally clayey formation on top, the frost. The melting ice and the sandy soil above bed-rock, snow from the hillsides almost and the hard metalliferous flood the valleys, and no sooner "country" composing true bot- has a hole been sunk a few feet tom, the amateur will quickly than it is quickly filled with learn to distinguish the position water, and no amount of pumpof the pay-gravel at a glance. ing will keep it dry. The only feasible method of mining, therefore, is by burning out the soil in the winter and accumulating the dump or "pay-dirt" on the surface until the claim is completely worked out; then in the summer season the time can be occupied in washing it through sluice-boxes, which can then be done without difficulty.

In a week's time we had reached bed-rock in our claim, and then busily engaged ourselves in driving underneath the channel of the stream. Dawson had between 2000 and 3000 inhabitants, but, judging from appearance, there seemed to be a population of only a few hundreds. As the weeks passed the cold became more and more severe, and 50° below zero was quite a common temperature. In this weather all but the younger miners stayed indoors, and as a result very little work was done. Winter

When we had got our claim into good working order I left my companions in charge, and harnessing Dave to a sleigh, took long prospecting tours around the country.


Many an experienced miner has found to his cost that this country differs from all others in its method of gold distribution. The goldfields have not been formed, as is generally supposed, by the mountain streams carrying down for ages the precious metal from quartz ledges near their sources. If such had been the case the richer gold would be found near the origin of the creeks, whereas the very opposite is what occurs, and science proves that it would not be so if the streams

were the only agency in its distribution. The rich deposits in this district have been made rather by the glacier slides of former ages, and unmistakable evidence of this would appear to the eye of the geologist. It is a very peculiar fact that no quartz reef of any size has been located in the neighbourhood, and the question naturally arises, "Where did the gold now found in the sands of the streams originally come from?" The original beds of the creeks were undoubtedly the channels by

which the large masses of ice descended to the comparatively flat region below; but as the surrounding country has evidently undergone vast changes owing to severe volcanic eruptions from time to time, it is quite possible, and very probable, that the mother-lode may be buried far into the interior of the mountains. It is also a curious fact that the gold belt which follows the Yukon river for so many hundred miles has shed such extraordinary riches within so small an area. On Stewart river to the south, and Forty-Mile river to the north, the gold appears to be more uniformly divided, and in no place concentrated in small patches to the exclusion of the rest of the river valley.

Certainly the Klondike goldfields are quite unique in this respect, hence the fabulous finds made in the vicinity. The wealth of Klondike has been very much exaggerated; still the district is well entitled to rank, next to Western Australia, as the richest alluvial goldfield in the world. However much Americans may choose to boom that district lying to the north-west of Dawson and over the boundary between British and American territories, I must emphasise the fact that the richer country lies rather to the south, and extends from Stewart river territory well down into the Cassiar fields of British Columbia. Stewart river itself deserves prominent mention. It

is interesting to note that it was the first tributary of the Yukon to attract attention. The work done was practically

confined to the bars formed near the mouth by the spring freshets; but these yielded thousands of pounds before the discoveries on the Klondike drew the miners from this region. The bars on the main river, which near its confluence with the Yukon is almost a mile wide, give no real idea of the value of the district, as at the best only the finest gold could be obtained, and the rich country watered by the various tributaries has never been prospected, or the Klondike river would probably not stand alone in popularity.

The Stewart river has many small offshoots, which should soon come under public notice; of these I think Henderson Creek is specially worthy of mention. It is a small stream that joins the Yukon a few miles from the mouth, and the results I obtained from carefully prospecting it warrant great expectations of its future. Several other small streams deserve attention, and although I have not boomed them, I doubt not that they would prove more genuinely reliable than many of the well-advertised branches of the Klondike. One small creek, joining the Stewart about twelve miles from its confluence with the Yukon, gave some extraordinary prospects; and quite near I discovered a small local quartz lode, samples of which assayed at a very high figure, but the ore formation was very refractory. This small stream I dubbed Ophir Gully, and by that name it is known throughout the country. I proved the

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