Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/238

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
232
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

inspired by the fact that the rent of a house is about half its value, and that 60 per cent, is an ordinary rate of interest for loans. Laborers' wages are £2 a day. Although almost anything required may be purchased in Dawson, all goods have been imported at great expense into a country which of itself has produced nothing but gold and wood. The freight rates on the White Pass route are about six cents a pound, and £23 a ton may be paid from Vancouver to Dawson.

The mining camp is situated to the southeast of Dawson at a distance of about thirteen miles. The productive area is about thirty miles square, and is bounded on the north by the Klondike River, on the west by the Yukon River, and on the south by the Indian River. The district is a gently undulating upland or plateau, attaining an average height of nearly 3,000 feet above the Yukon, and intersected by deep flat-bottomed valleys which radiate from its central and highest point, a rounded hill named the Dome. The valleys are separated by hog-backed ridges; the whole district is fairly thickly wooded with spruce and poplar except on the summits of the ridges; the bottoms of the valleys are occupied by flat marshy bogs, and the streams are rarely more than ten feet broad. The bog, which is from five to ten feet thick, is frozen at a short depth below the surface and keeps the underlying gravel, which may be from ten to thirty feet thick, permanently frozen right down to the bed-rock.

The principal streams are known as creeks; the short steep tributaries which flow into them as 'gulches'; and the streamlets which feed these as 'pups.' The most important creeks are from seven to ten miles in length, and are productive over perhaps half their course, so that there may be about fifty miles of richly productive gravel in the district. I was informed that one stretch of three and one half miles on El Dorado Creek produced no less than £6,000,000 of gold.

Recently constructed government roads lead from Dawson to the camp and connect the various creeks; they were being completed at the time of our visit, and were still very rough or almost impassable at some points among the creeks; numerous rudely built but fairly comfortable 'road-houses' afford lodging to the traveler. A small town of log cabins, known as Grand Forks, has sprung up at the junction of the two most famous creeks, Bonanza and El Dorado, and is inhabited by perhaps 1,200 miners and others. There is another small town named Cariboo on Dominion Creek.

The creeks no longer present the dreary appearance of bog and forest, which made them look so unpromising to the early prospectors; the hillsides have been largely stripped of their timber, and the valley bottoms are in many parts the scene of active mining operations and rendered unsightly by machinery; the mining is also carried on upon the hillsides at a height of 300 or 400 feet, where