The next time you travel north on the Alaska Highway between the Fish Lake Road and the Porter Creek Super A, ask yourself why the canyon there is called Rabbit Foot Canyon. Why not Anaconda?
In 1899, the White Pass Railway was wondering whether it would be worthwhile extending its track all the way to Whitehorse, or whether it should stop at Bennett Lake.
The Rabbit Foot Mine (after which Rabbit Foot Canyon is named) was one of the new copper discoveries in the Whitehorse area that convinced the White Pass to keep coming north. The nearby Anaconda Mine had started operation the year before.
It’s interesting to think that shortly after the gold rush in the Klondike, there were significant mines in operation in the Whitehorse area.
In 1900, the owners of the Rabbit Foot and Anaconda mines turned down $150K for the pair. The Anaconda at the time had more than 40 metres of tunnel, plus numerous shafts and crosscuts… all hand dug. These were promising prospects!
But, if these mines were a big deal 115 year ago, they must have left traces behind. Where were they?
Next time you head to the Whitehorse landfill, you’ll pass very close. As you turn off the highway, drive up the hill, and then make the big left-hand curve back toward the landfill, the Anaconda Mine is on your left, just a few steps off the road.
And as you wait to get through the gatehouse, the Rabbit Foot Mine is just behind you, hidden in the woods.
It’s well worth taking the time to get out of the car and go exploring just a short distance in the woods. But be careful! Leave the small children and inattentive pets behind, because fishing someone out of the open vertical shafts would be a challenge.
There are lots of interesting tailings around for rock collectors… malachite (green rocks containing copper) anyone?
Near the Rabbit Foot Mine, there are two old log buildings, one possibly for human habitation, the other maybe for equipment storage.
While you’re visiting the Rabbit Foot Mine, head due south a very short distance to appreciate the beautiful hidden valley of Porter Creek.
The creek passes through a deep, lush canyon here with steep rocky sides and veritable jungle below, before flowing out of the hidden exit right where the landfill road joins the highway. Is it true that there is a herd of miniature mammoths hiding out here?
Hey, who knew about all this interesting history and geography so close to home? Many born-andraised Yukoners tell me they have never heard of or seen any of this… and it’s just waiting for you to explore!
Map of the Whitehorse Copper Belt published in 1909 showing the Rabbit Foot, Anaconda, and other mines along with the roads that linked them to Whitehorse.
Very good booklet with details and GPS coordinates for the mines in the Whitehorse Copper Belt. Section 2 describes the Anaconda, Copper Queen, and Rabbit Foot mines in the area of the city landfi ll. In fact, the Copper Queen was on the other side of McIntyre Creek.
Map to accompany the booklet above. Note that some of the GPS coordinates here may be wrong.