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A Trip to the Yukon, 1896: Part 4, Down the Yukon River to Circle City

Klondike Gold Rush

A Trip to the Yukon, 1896: Part 3, From White Horse down the Yukon River

The Pittsburg Daily Headlight (Pittsburg, Kansas) - January 7, 1897

A Trip to the Yukon

Some of the Experiences of Seekers
After Wealth in the Alaska Gold Fields

by J. H. Jones, Galena, Kansas.

    Just thirty miles below the headwaters is the Cassiar bar, one of the first paying strikes on the Yukon. When first discovered it paid a $100 a day to the man the whole season, and since that time several prospectors have made good "stakes" from the claim. We ate dinner here and panned some dirt, getting as high as thirty to forty "colors" to the pan This shows that the bar is not yet worked out.

    Fifty miles below, the big Salmon river enters the Yukon. This stream is famous for its fine salmon. Here we found a big ice jam and had to go into camp for a couple of days. While in camp here two boats were caught in the floating ice and it was only after great effort that we succeeded in getting a line cut to them and hauled them ashore over the floating ice. When we had the occupants safe on shore they were as white as they will ever be in death. They had given up all hope and were momentarily expecting to be crushed to death in the ice. Every year there are a great number of lives sacrificed by persons getting in too great a hurry and following the ice too closely.

    May 23 we pass through Five Fingers. The name is derived from five large rocks which stand in the stream dividing the waters into five lesser streams resembling the fingers of a man's hand This is another dangerous point on our journey - worse than Miles' canon - but is only 100 yards till we are in smooth water again. A "scow" loaded very heavily, passed through and drew so much water that all we could see of the boat was the oar locks; but the men stayed with it and succeeded in landing on an island below, of which there is an abundance.

    From now to Circle City we let our boat drift with nothing to fear. After one day's ride we arrive at old Fort Selkirk, six hours after the breaking up of the ice jam. I will attempt a description of one of these ice jams on the Yukon. Here the river is one mile wide, with banks twelve to twenty feet high. When the ice formed in the upper tributaries begins to break up and come down it forces the Yukon to the top of its banks and piles up huge cakes of ice from ten to twelve feet thick on the shore. It is a magnificent sight.

    In 1842 the Indians burned Fort Selkirk, and nothing now remains but the blackened ruins.

    Leaving here we lash two boats together and do our cooking as we float down the river. The weather is fine and here is where the only pleasure comes in on the whole trip. The scenery is beautiful and ever changing. Forty miles below we come to White river and it is well named, as its waters have a milky white appearance caused by volcanic matter which they carry. The Indians say that at its head 1,200 miles distant, is a mountain of fire. We didn't go up to source to verify the report, but are satisfied with the Indians' account of it.

    The next point of interest is Sixty Mile Post, situated on an island. The settlement boasts of a saw-mill - a genuine article - and one store. Sixty miles below is Fort Mile Post, a town of from 75 to 100 log houses, three stores and six saloons. Here is where the miners of Forty Mile creek purchase their supplies. One mile below is Fort Cudahy. Here the flag of England waves to the breeze. One company of soldiers is stationed here and they have a patrol boat to watch the river for smugglers.

    While at Forty Mile we saw at least 1,000 cariboo swimming across the river. The past week is the first time we have seen any game and now our daily bill of fare embraces bear, cariboo and moose, all fine eating. After subsisting for nearly three months on "three B's" - beans, bacon aud biscuit - we know how to appreciate fresh meat.

    On May 29, at 12 o'clock, midnight, we arrive in Circle City, having been three months and twelve days on the trip, and haying traveled just about 1,000 miles.

[To be continued.]

A Trip to the Yukon, 1896: Part 5, Life in Circle City