Monday, January 15, 2007

Dawson's riverbank

mild day (-15) so I went for a long walk along the Yukon River with the goofy dog (who spent her time leaping into snow banks) and I tried to imagine how the place looked in 1898 when the Gold Rush hit. Suddenly 20,000 people descended on this previously calm bit of riverbank...a swampy area that the First Nations didn't use for habitation because it flooded too often. Pierre Berton has a great description of Dawson by the end of that crazy summer, in his book Klondike:
“Dawson was a city of sawdust and stumps and the skeletons of fast-rising buildings, its main street a river of mud through which horses, whipped on by clamouring men, floundered and kicked. In between these threshing beasts moved a sluggish stream of humanity. They trudged up to their calves in the slime, or they negotiated the duck-boards that were thrown across the black morass, or they shambled in a steady flow along the high boardwalk that was mounted on one side of the street.”

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