Lost in the rush
LOST IN THE RUSH
At one time, Miles Canyon and White Horse Rapids were ten kilometres of white water, rocky ledges and whirlpools. First Nations people wisely chose to walk around this treacherous stretch and early prospectors followed their portage trails.
During the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-98, however, many impatient stampeders braved the rapids in their homemade watercraft. Several paid for their daring with lost gear, smashed boats and even their lives. First Nations people tell how their ancestors pulled the bodies of drowning victims from the river and buried their remains nearby.
Measures were taken to avoid this hazard. Entrepreneurs built horse-drawn tramlines along the portage trails to haul freight and small boats past the rough water. In June 1898, the North-West Mounted Police decreed that only experienced pilots could shoot the rapids and the death toll dropped.
Although the hydro dam has tamed the rapids, the Yukon River is still dangerous. The river continues to claim victims with its swift current, undertows and very cold water. Please respect the river and the memories of those who lost their lives here