Putting the Giant to Rest

The Bonanza Creek Road winds through piles of dredge tailings—hills of gravel mounded like ground deposited by a gigantic earthworm—and abandoned, rusting mining equipment.

This road was once the life vein of Dawson City. In the mid-20th century, the city was a supply centre for the dredges and the dredging community located at Bear Creek, 10 kilometres south of Dawson off the North Klondike Highway.

Dredge #4, built in 1912 for the Canadian Klondike Mining Company, is one of two dozen placer dredges that were constructed in the area starting in 1899.

Its wooden hulled buckets scraped the belly of the Klondike Valley until 1959, sifting for gold first on the “Boyle Concession”, then on Bonanza Creek.

The monster blue body of Dredge #4 now lies on Claim 17 on Bonanza Creek, 13 km down the Bonanza Creek Road.

At eight stories high, 110 metres long and weighing 2,722 tonnes, the dredge was the largest of its kind in North America.

“The real story wasn’t just about the discovery of gold, that event that happened about a hundred years ago, but the evolution of the Klondike since then, going from hand-mining and individual small-scale mining to corporate mining,” David Rohatensky, Parks Canada superintentent, told the Klondike Sun last summer.

Parks Canada acquired the dredge in 1969 and has been working on restoration efforts since the ’90s, most recently on the hull.

Meanwhile, the dredge has been a commemorative site and a main tourist attraction for the Dawson area.

The dredge will close to the public on September 9.

Sleeping Giant

by Shelley O’Brien

Cover your ears!

Such a screech and squeal,

such a wail and peal!

Her clatter and metal

was adored, was despised.

Cover your ears!

All colours are taken,

land all a-shaken

by a gold treading vessel

who ate up the Klondike prize.

Cover your ears!

She’s sinking again,

she who is only mechanized

meets a second kind of demise…

twice abandoned,

twice dies.

Cover your eyes!

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