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Canyon Creek Bridge, Yukon

Canyon Creek Bridge Rest Area

    This rest area is located at Km 1547.5 of the Alaska Highway

Canyon Creek Bridge, Yukon

    In 1903, a gold strike in the Alsek River drainage brought a stampede of miners, some of whom stayed to mine in several creeks around Kluane Lake. A wagon road was built from Whitehorse in the next year and Sam McGee and Gilbert Skelly, constructed a substantial bridge over Canyon Creek. This bridge survived heavy traffic and high spring floods until the 1920s when the government contracted the Jacquot brothers from Burwash Landing to rebuild it.

    In 1942, during construction of the Alaska Highway, the old bridge was dismantled and a new one was hand-built in 18 days. It has been described as the most ambitious and important bridge to be built by the US Army 18th Engineers. When the Public Roads Administration built permanent bridges along the highway, the old pioneer bridge was left in place. The Canyon Creek Bridge was reconstructed by the Yukon Government in 1986/87. Approximately 10% of the original bridge was left in place and 85% of the cribbing.

Canyon Creek Bridge, Yukon

Tthe Yänlin: Water flows through the rocks

    Over 7,000 years ago, a small group of bison hunters camped here on the high terraces overlooking the river valley. The broken spear head and a small collection of stone tools they left behind are part of the "Little Arm Phase" archaeological culture in the southern Yukon, (named for the "little arm" or Brook's Arm of Kluane Lake where sites of this time period were first found). Many tools of this period used small stone blades or microblades as insets to form cutting and piercing edges.

    Over the last thousand years, the Southern Tutchone-speaking people of this region have continued to use Tthe Yänlin on the Ashèeyi Chu (Aishihik River) as an important camping spot from which to hunt caribou and moose. The animal species had changed over the years and the tools were different but the hunting and gathering techniques remained the same.

    Canyon Creek was such a convenient stopping place that a roadhouse and store were built here in 1904 to serve people travelling along the old wagon road to the Kluane goldfields. A little community grew up near the roadhouse. Today, Canyon Creek is one of Champagne and Aishihik First Nations' major established residential communities.

    The small graveyard on the bluff dates from the early 1900s. Yukon cemeteries are protected. Please respect the deceased.

Canyon Creek Bridge, Yukon

    This sign was installed by the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations - their Canyon Creek subdivision is across the highway from the rest area.

Canyon Creek Bridge, Yukon

Canyon Creek Bridge

    In 1904, a year after the Kluane gold strike, roadhouse keepers Gilbert Skelly and Sam McGee built a log bridge across the Aishihik River or Canyon Creek as it was then known. It became and important link on the wagon road connecting Whitehorse and Silver City. During construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942, the bridge was rebuilt by the 18th Engineers Regiment of the American Army, only to be abandoned when the road was rerouted the next year. The Yukon Government reconstructed this bridge in 1987.

This panel was installed after the bridge was rebuilt in 1987 - the photo was shot in July 1991. It was removed after new interpretive panels were installed in about 2010.