Wed Aug 29th- We arrived in Dawson City in the afternoon. We were staying at a campground in the middle town, so we were just walking distance to everything. And speaking of walking, the streets were not paved, and Dawson City has boardwalks for side walks…..Kind-of cool.
It had never occurred to me before that it might make more sense to NOT pave a road. The gravel roads seem to be smoother and easier to maintain than pavement. Pavement will heave with the freezing and thawing. Gravel can just be graded off and smoothed out.
Dawson City was built to support the Klondike mining boom. Gold was discovered in Aug 17th, 1896. By October, 1896, the mining camp had a population of 500 people.
To support these mining efforts, riverboats were needed along with a landing spot, so this community which was developing at the confluence of the Yukon and the Klondike River was chosen, and Dawson City was born.
During the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush, people from all over the world arrived, making Dawson City the largest Canadian city west of Winnipeg.
By 1899, Dawson had electricity, telephone and telegraph service. It was incorporated in 1902 and was the territorial capital from 1898 to 1953. At its boom, Dawson City swelled to a population of 40,000. It now has a population of 1,879. In one recorded two week period of ‘bust’, over 8,000 people packed up and left.
Dawson City had a cute little downtown to explore…and several nice shops and restaurants to enjoy.
Wednesday evening we took in the show at casino. We had been told that it was entertaining…..but, it was just the usual ‘dance hall girls’ fare……and lame, at that. Oh well……
Thursday, August 30th – We took a city tour given by a costumed volunteer. It was very informative….
And gave us access to several building that were locked, like the post office building, a beautiful old building which is no longer being used due to the high cost of heating and maintain it.
Dawson City nurtured several famous authors.
Robert Service, the ‘bard of the Yukon’ wrote a number of books of prose, immortalizing the Klondike Gold Rush.
We had a ‘full circle’ moment when we realized that Dawson City housed a replica of Jack London’s cabin, like we had seen at Jack London Square in Oakland, CA. The original cabin had been discovered on Henderson Creek, about 70 miles from Dawson City. In 1969, two replicas were built, each using 1/2 of the logs from the original. The cabin in Oakland used the bottom half of the logs, the cabin in Dawson City used the top half. This was considered to be a fair compromise in sharing this historical artifact, as London was raised and attended schools in Oakland, but used his experiences in the Yukon for the inspiration of a number of his stories.
Pierre Berton, a noted Canadian non-fiction author lived in Dawson City until the age of 12 years old. What I thought was most fascinating about the Berton House is that it now houses visiting authors as a ‘writer’s retreat’.
We stopped in at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
I loved the beautiful simplicity of the altar, and could not help but notice the crucifix. Jesus' arm is broken, much like the crucifix at Good Shepherd Church…..another casualty of Lenten draping? ;- )
We stayed Thursday night at the Dawson City campground, and got ready to start our drive southward in the morning.