The legendary town of Jack London
( Für die deutsche Version bitte hier entlang.) We are still on our round trip to the highlights of Alaska and the Yukon Territories. We have made the Top of the World Highway, crossed the Yukon River on a small car ferry and now we enter Dawson, the legendary town of the gold rush at the junction of the Yukon and the Klondike River.
Curiously we drive along the road at the riverbank. At first we see all these colorful painted wooden houses that look like especially built for the film versions of Jack London´s novels. But these are original, some of them more or less restored, some of them really gorgeous. Some are on the verge to collapse, because they were built directly on the permfrost ground. After using the fireplace inside the ground defrosted and the houses started to subside.
After the long drive from Tok to Dawson we are a bit tired and hungry. We check into our hotel, the Westmark Inn that will be our domicile for the next two nights. We are really lucky to get not only the normal standard room, but a huge one with a cozy lounge.
We ask for a good restaurant and decide for Klondike Kate´s. We are surprised to find a long waiting queue. Are they waiting to get in or are they just smokers, who have to go outside? All of them want to eat there as well, so we give our names for the waiting list and head on to explore downtown Dawson. There is still bright light so we are able to take a couple of nice pictures.
The wait was not in vain. At last we get our table in this rustic restaurant that looks much more like a pub. The food is excellent and the portions are huge. The Yukon Gold beer as well…
Sufficiently tired we got to bed. The next day is “off”, which means we need not to head on but get enough time to discover Dawson´s surroundings. During a scrumptious breakfast at “Cheechakos Bakeshop” we decide to visit “Dredge No. 4” an old gold panning dredge, which is kind of a museum right now. We book a guided tour at 2 pm that gives us a lot of time until then.
So what are we going to do? Dawson is small, has got less than 1500 inhabitants and we walked up and down the streets yesterday. We decide to hike in the woods, right behind the city at the hillside the hiking trails start. Again and again signs tell us to be cautious while we are in bear country. I feel a bit queasy about it and start taking in a loud voice, so that any approaching bear might just turn round and walk away. As much as I like these furry creatures I don´t want to end up as bear´s food.
We get rewarded with an awesome overlook on Dawson and the Yukon River. Besides a cat with a collar and some birds we see no other animals.
In a booth in Dawson we buy our tickets for the dredge tour. Just when we get into our car three other Germans ask if they could go with us, as they are here in Dawson by a public transport. Though they can´t manage the 14 mile drive to the dredge.
We´ve got enough room in our Buick so we all get on our way. Soon we have to leave the Klondike Highway. The Upper Bonanza Creek Rd is a gravel road so we take our time. On both sides of the road gravel mounds tell us that we are in a region where people still pan for gold.
At last we stop in front of Dredge No 4, an eight stories high kind of building, 2/3 surface area of a football pitch. From 1913 to 1940 the dredge was in use, interrupted only by short periods of disuse. Over 50 years the dredge lay unattended there like Sleeping Beauty, until 1991 it was awakened. Such huge motors inside! The noise must have been earsplitting. No wonder that so many workers got deaf after only a short period of working here.
We take a last look and then we drive back. We stop at a small shop, Claim 33 that is also a kind of open air museum for the living during the gold rush time. If it´s not cold enough for anybody, gold panning in the icy water is possible here. But not for me, I´m freezing and it started to snow just now.
We bring back our three fellow travelers to Dawson and head on to the Dome Rd to drive onto the Midnight Dome, a hill overlooking Dawson. The view is stunning! It´s raining in the distance, but the view over the Yukon and Klondike River is amazing. No we need a real good coffee that we get in the ” AlchemyCafé“.
After our today´s excursions our clothes look Yukon-style that means dirty and muddy.
We change fast and walk right over the street to the Aurora Restaurant. We already know the procedure, first get on the waiting list and come back later. It´s “Schnitzel day” today, a typical German dish and why not? Burger or steak like any other day, no, so we try the Schnitzel. It tastes really good, I can´t eat it all and there is definitely no more place for a dessert.