April 18, 2014

Has the Source of the Klondike been found?

Chilkoot Pas

During the summer of 1896, prospectors George Carmack, Skookum Jim, and Dawson Charlie had moved further up the Klondike River in the Yukon, Canada, because their gold panning was turning up less and less gold.  Accounts vary as to the exact course of events, but we know that they travelled up the Rabbit Creek, now known as Bonanza Creek, and the gold pans began turning up zingers (1 cm +).  The next summer, the amount of gold brought into the ports of Seattle and San Francisco (one year’s worth) was estimated to be about $1 billion in today’s currency, but this figure is largely considered as underestimated.  Over 100,000 people attempted to travel from Seattle and San Francisco to Skagway, brave the treacherous Chilkoot Pass into Canada, and then paddle over 1,000 kilometres down a river that contained many rapids, all to get their hands on a bit of this klondike gold.  Of that, less than half actually made it, an even fewer number every found any gold, and only a few hundred became rich.

It is estimated that since 1896, over 20 million ounces have been pulled from the Bonanza Creek, its tributary the Eldorado Creek, and the other rivers in the area.  All of this was by panning and sluicing the rivers.

Naturally, when the drill was invented gold explorers wanted to find the hard rock “source” of the gold in the rivers of the klondike.  But this effort has remained basically fruitless for over 115 years.

A small mine called Lone Star produced a mere 1,200 ounces of gold in 1914 before closing.  That quantity  remains basically the entire hard rock gold mined from the klondike.

So when Kaminak Gold announced last week that it had produced a maiden resource estimate with 3,236,000 ounces of gold on its Coffee property, the question begs “Have we found the source of the Klondike?”

The Coffee property is about 90 kms south of the Bonanza and Eldorado creeks.  It is directly adjacent to the White River, which empties into the Yukon River.  The klondike gold rush happened on the upper reaches of the Klondike River which also empties into the Yukon River.  Basically, the White River and Klondike River are “parallel.”

It is impossible that the gold panned by the three prospectors who touched off the gold rush came from Kaminak’s Coffee property.  So unfortunately the answer is no, the source of the klondike gold rush has not been found.  But Kaminak has found at least one source of the gold that occurs along the Yukon River within a few miles downstream of the klondike gold rush area.  The three prospectors traveled up the Yukon River to get to their destination, so they might have panned “Coffee” gold along the way there.

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