KLONDIKE, a district in Yukon Territory, north-western Canada, approximately in 64 N. and 140 W. The limits are rather indefinite, but the district includes the country to the south of the Klondike River, which comes into the Yukon from the east and has several tributaries, as well as Indian River, a second branch of the Yukon, flowing into it some distance above the Klondike. The richer gold-bearing gravels are found along the creeks tributary to these two rivers within an area of about 800 sq. m. The Klondike district is a dissected peneplain with low ridges of rounded forms rising to 4250 ft. above the sea at the Dome which forms its centre. All of the gold-bearing creeks rise not far from the Dome and radiate in various directions toward the Klondike and Indian rivers, the most productive being Bonanza with its tributary Eldorado, Hunker, Dominion and gold Run. Of these, Eldorado, for the two or three miles in which it was gold-bearing, was much the richest, and for its length probably surpassed any other known placer deposit.
Rich gravel was discovered on Bonanza Creek in 1896, and a wild rush to this almost inaccessible region followed, a population of 30,000 coming in within the next three or four years with a rapidly increasing output of gold, reaching in 1900 the climax of $22,000,000. Since then the production has steadily declined, until in 1906 it fell to $5,600,000. The richest gravels were worked out before 1910, and most of the population had left the Klondike for Alaska and other regions; so that Dawson, which for a time was a bustling city of more than 10,000, dwindled to about 3000 inhabitants. As the ground was almost all frozen, the mines were worked by a thawing process, first by setting fires, afterwards by using steam, new methods being introduced to meet the unusual conditions. Later dredges and hydraulic mining were resorted to with success.
The Klondike, in spite of its isolated position, brought together miners and adventurers from all parts of the world, and it is greatly to the credit of the Canadian government and of the mounted police, who were entrusted with the keeping of order, that life and property were as safe as elsewhere and that no lawless methods were adopted by the miners as in placer mining camps in the western United States. The region was at first difficult of access, but can now be reached with perfect comfort in summer, travelling by well-appointed steamers on the Pacific and the Yukon River. Owing to its perpetually frozen soil, summer roads were excessively bad in earlier days, but good wagon roads have since been constructed to ah 1 the important mining centres. Dawson itself has all the resources of a civilized city in spite of being founded on a frozen peat-bog; and is supplied with ordinary market vegetables from farms just across the river. During the winter, when for some time the Sun does not appear above the hills, the cold is intense, though usually without wind, but the well-chinked log houses can be kept comfortably warm. When winter travel is necessary dog teams and sledges are generally made use of, except on the stage route south to White Horse, where horses are used. A telegraph line connects Dawson with British Columbia, but the difficulties in keeping it in order are so great over the long intervening wilderness that communication is often broken. gold is practially the only economic product of the Klondike, though small amounts of tin ore occur, and lignite coal has been mined lower down on the Yukon. The source of the gold seems to have been small stringers of quartz in the siliceous and sericitic schists which form the bed rock of much of the region, and no important quartz veins have been discovered; so that unlike most other placer regions the Klondike has not developed lode mines to continue the production of gold when the gravels are exhausted.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)