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Some History of the Whitehorse Copper Belt to 1912

Arctic & Northern Mining

The Weekly Star - Friday, August 30, 1912

Some History of the Whitehorse Copper Belt to 1912

    Pioneers of Yukon all remember of hearing considerable talk about the Whitehorse copper belt as far back as twelve years ago, previous to which date the fact that in this locality existed one of the greatest mineral belts in the West and North was known to but comparatively few.

    The first quartz claims staked in what is known as the Whitehorse copper belt were the Copper King and Ora. Everybody knows of the former which has since become one of the best known properties in the district and which is now owned principally by Messrs. Whitney and Pedlar, but of the latter little is known. However it adjoins the Copper King and both were staked on the 6th of July, 1898, the former by John McIntyre who lost his life by drowning seven years ago while carrying mail to Atlin, and the latter by John Hanley who was last heard of in the Philipines. The Copper King and Ora were recorded by their stakers on the 20th of August of the same year at Dawson, that being before there was a recording office even at Tagish.

    The next claims staked in the district were the Big Chief and Little Chief which were staked on September 15th, 1898, by William McTaggart and Andrew Olsen, the whereabouts of both being now unknown.

    W. A. Puckett, the hardware merchant got into the game early, he having on the 28th of September, 1898, staked the Anaconda claim which he still owns and which bids fair to some day make him a rich man.

    From the fall of 1898 until midsummer of the following year there was but little doing in the quartz circles in Southern Yukon. Early that year a mining recording office was established at Tagish in charge of the Royal N. W. M. P., who conducted it until our present assistant gold commissioner, R. C. Miller, arrived at Tagish to accept the position of mining recorder.

    In the summer of 1899 prospectors began investigating the copper belt and on the 7th of July of that year Ole Dickson located the Rabbits Foot which he still owns and Angus D. McKinnon, on the same day, located the Best Chance which is now under bond by him to the Atlas Mining Company, which is carrying on extensive prospecting operations with a shot drill on the claim.

    On the 16th of July, 1899, W. S. McGee located the War Eagle in which he still owns a large interest. Mr. McGee and associates bonded the War Eagle some years ago to Spokane parties who did considerable work on it and who were loath to give it up when their finances were exhausted. It is a very promising property.

    Four days before McGee located on the War Eagle and on July 12, Captain John Irving located the Arctic Chief, another property on which considerable work has been done and which shows up as a big producer of high grade ore. Captain Irving still owns an interest in the Arctic Chief and it is reported work will be resumed on it in the near future.

    One of the claims to be staked earliest in '99 was the famous Pueblo, the claim from which an average of 400 tons of ore are now being shipped daily to the Tacoma smelter. This claim was located on the 30th of June by H. E. Porter, who is still in the country and continuously prospecting. Mr. Porter located the Pueblo for the Whitehorse Copper Company in whose employ he was at the time.

    And mention of the Whitehorse Copper Company at the present stage makes the following paragraph necessary:

    The Whitehorse Copper Company sent representatives to this place armed with a permit issued at Ottawa for the staking of twenty-two copper concessions of 160 acres each, by the company. Acting on the principle that a grant from Ottawa gave them the right of way and a free hand, the company began planting concession stakes all over the country without regard to the meaning of the two words "prior right." The result was that several claims previously staked by individuals were embraced in the concessions staked by the company and it was when these concessions were submitted to Recorder R. C. Miller with application for record that he, with no law or precedent to guide him, but with that sense of fairness and official integrity which has ever characterized him, refused to accept applications for record which covered a claim already staked. The company blustered and snorted, but to no avail. Recorder Miller's actions were sustained at Ottawa and the individual held his claim and the concessionaires got only such property as was not previously staked.

    During July and August of 1899 some of the best known and most promising claims in the belt were staked and recorded. On July 12 Wm. Clark staked the Golden Gate, the same day Captain Irving staked the Arctic Chief. The following month, on August 5, William Woodley staked the Grafter, one of the most promising in the entire belt and now under bond to the Atlas Mining Company, which is exploiting it on a big scale in the line of development work. William Maher staked the Center Star on August 15th and still owns it, it being very promising. The Valerie, principally owned by A. B. Palmer of Vancouver but now under bond to the Atlas people who are thoroughly developing it with glowing results, was staked by Gustave Gervais whose present whereabouts are unknown, on the 22nd of August, '99.

    All that year staking continued and by the following summer practically the entire belt was staked and recorded and the majority of the claims have been represented and kept on record ever since.

    Ira Petty and W. R. Young recorded the first claims in what is now known as the Conrad district on the 18th of July, 1899, while Nels Swanberg recorded a claim on Carbon Hill in the Wheaton district on the 28th of the same month and year.

    Although more than fourteen years have elapsed since the first copper claims were located and recorded in this locality, work on the belt is being conducted on a larger scale now than ever before. In fact, as compared with the operations now being carried on by the Atlas Mining Company, work was never fully inaugurated until the present year.

    Of course, the future is problematical, but present indications are that the Whitehorse copper belt is on the eve of developing into one of the largest copper producers on the American continent.