Parks Canada’s Bear Creek Compound is somewhat legendary in Dawson as few have stepped foot in it. Today, for the first time in at least seven years, and possibly for the last time, the compound was opened to the public for a few hours. Checking it out seemed like a good use of my afternoon break!
From the Parks Canada website:
Bear Creek is an industrial complex of some 65 buildings and related structures located in the Klondike River Valley, 10 kilometres east of Dawson City. From 1905 to 1966, Bear Creek was the Klondike headquarters for corporate mining interests, acting as the administrative and repair centre for the goldfield’s dredging operations. These huge dredges worked the goldfields, replacing the small individual miner of the gold rush and ensuring the viability of gold mining as a profitable business up until 1966.
(For a refresher course on dredges, go back to my post about Dredge No. 4.)
Parks Canada acquired the complex in 1975 but because of environmental concerns could not do too much with it. One of the biggest hazards is the mercury that was used in the gold extraction process. The cost of rehabilitating the site to make it safe for the public would be prohibitive. Today, Parks Canada mostly uses the buildings for storage, but there is one garage left for repairing big machinery.
Visiting the compound was an extraordinary experience. The majority of the buildings are in some stage of decay, mostly advanced, and many have artifacts left in situ, as though time has stood still. It reminded me a lot of touring Alcatraz, actually, and the weight of history was incredibly present.
the mess hall
the floors in the messhall undulate like fields of prairie wheat
Parks Canada lumber storage
the most impressive building–you open a very heavy and thick door into a dark and earthy-smelling tunnel. My camera’s flash did too good a job here!
exterior of the root cellar
that yellow never fails to take my breath away!
this machine was cast in Ohio!
this cavernous building once held all manner of giant machinery
a giant transformer
permafrost wreaking havoc in the tin shop
55 cents a gallon!
this building is obviously in modern use. 🙂
this tunnel is just about tall enough for me to crouch in!
coming apart at the seams
exterior of the steno office
staff housing (doesn’t look much better from the exterior than any of the other buildings!)
this shed holds ‘props’
the engineer’s house
this house surprised me with the number and size of rooms it contains, as well as the ample storage
toilet room off a massive bathroom
news article about Neil Armstrong!
1962 calendar (I suspect it was planted here; seems in too good shape)
information about Bear Creek
wheelbarrow dug out of the permafrost
the staircase inside the welcome building is in surprisingly good shape
the interior of the engineering building is in excellent condition
I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to tour the Bear Creek compound. What a way to conclude my stay in the Klondike!