Dawson City was the last boomtown of the 19th century and is often referred to as the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush. The town recently had a visit from Tom Hron over at AlaskaExpert. Tom has written a series(1,2,3) about the town, which is once again booming as gold miners can make $500 a day by sluicing the tailings of supposedly worked out old claims. He met a guy that was a gold miner by day and poker player by night, just like in the good old days. So how rich was the area in gold back in the days?
Even today, it’s said that if you can find ten square feet of original ground it will produce $1,000,000 in nuggets.
I don’t know if I believe that claim, that’s a lot of gold from just one square meter! He does mention though, that the easy gold was gone by the time most gold seekers reached Dawson. After the surface gold was gone, miners dug down through the permafrost with the help of fires to thaw the soil. So they tunneled and pulled up buckets of pay dirt during the winter which they sluiced during the summer.
Today people are still making money mining gold around Dawson City, but according to Tom they just keep their mouths shut about it, which is a good move if you ask me. He was shown nuggets worth $4,000, which the miners sell to jewelers who specialize in nugget jewelry.
There is a thriving underground economy for those who are lucky enough to own a claim that produces good-sized nuggets, and those mines are highly prized. Mining is hard work but it has very special rewards, since it’s nobody’s business what you find in the dirt and shove in your pockets.
Dawson City seems like an awesome place to visit if you have the slightest interest in gold mining and history. There’s a big museum in town filled with artifacts from the Klondike Gold Rush days. I’ll make sure I stop by Dawson City on a future trip to Canada. Head over to Tom and read his first, second, and third post!
If you’ve been to Dawson City, please share your experience in the comments below!
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