Historic image of Biederman Mail Service, Ed Biederman and his dog sled team, on the Yukon River in front of Eagle Bluff at Eagle, Alaska
Biederman Mail Service, Ed Biederman and his dog sled team, departing north and downriver on the Yukon River in front of Eagle Bluff at Eagle, Alaska, ca 1930s.

UAF Archives, UAF-1977-0204-52


The Upper Yukon River region that includes Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve is full of stories. From those of the Han Athapaskans that have lived here for generations to the trappers and traders of the first Euro-American commercial interests, to the floods of people ensnared by the lure of Klondike gold. Some stories are still being written today such as those of the intrepid mushers taking part in the Yukon Quest.

The staff here at Yukon-Charley Rivers work to document and preserve these stories that they may be shared. The following links are just a few examples to pique your interest. make sure to check back for updates!

Klondike stampeders at Chilkoot Pass in winter
Klondike-Alaska Gold Rush

Parties proved to be 'stayers' - hardy Americans with pluck and energy, who have towed outfits in boats and waded in gum boots to the headwaters of every stream that helps to swell the Yukon in Alaska.
Historic photo of two surveyors, one on horseback, working on the international boundary project.

A Line in the Wilderness

It seems a fact of life that the 141st meridian serves as the international border between Alaska and Canada, but it was not always thus.

The well preserved courtroom, including Wickersham's desk in Eagle, Alaska.

Frontier Justice

Frontier outposts and mining camps have a reputation for lawlessness and turmoil, and both the Canadian Klondike and Alaskan boomtowns like Eagle City and Circle City had their share.

Dale Patty and Ted Murray retorting Coal Creek gold.

Industrial Mining at Coal Creek

The industrialization of gold placer mining along the Yukon River corridor demanded tremendous ingenuity and capital investment.

The Hillman Company label on the "Prospector" drill rig.

Drilling Rigs and the Search for Gold

In 1934, when General Alexander McRae decided to mine Coal Creek on an industrial scale, his company, Gold Placers, Inc., would succeed only if he could guarantee that his gold dredge followed the band of subterranean gold called a paystreak. He would need not only a dredge but a specialized drill.

A remnant wheel from the steam boiler at Cheese Creek.

The Coal Creek Steam Boiler

In 1898 when thousands of eager gold-seekers rushed to Alaska and the Klondike, they encountered an obstacle that many did not anticipate: permafrost.

A valve on the Colorado Creek steam boiler
Doghouse Boiler at Colorado Creek

Perfectly adapted to transportation by airplane, dog sled or poling boat, the modern prospect boiler is proving to be a boon to the Northland’s No. 1 Citizen, the prospector.
Chunks of pure, processed gold after retorting.

What is Placer Gold Mining?

Unlike hardrock mining, which extracts veins of precious minerals from solid rock, placer mining is the practice of separating heavily eroded minerals like gold from sand or gravel.

One of the Washington Creek Steam Traction Engine drive wheels.

The Steam Traction Engine at Washington Creek

Perched near the edge of the river, the machine with its hefty steel-clad boiler and menacing spiked wheels seems like a monster from another age. And in a sense it is.

A musher & team on the Yukon River

The Yukon Quest

Mittens and parkas hang by the wood stove to dry. Bacon and eggs sizzle on the griddle. A slumbering traveler’s contented snores drift downstairs from the bunkroom. Around a table laden with food, a few souls – unacquainted until just a few hours ago – nurse mugs of coffee while comparing notes on trail conditions.

Last updated: August 9, 2018

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