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Thread: Edmonton and the Klondike Gold Rush, Klondike Trail

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    Default Edmonton and the Klondike Gold Rush, Klondike Trail

    I came across this write up (some sort of history compilation) and found it quite interesting

    The Klondike Trail

    Sion's claim to fame as a gravitational centre for rural electrification takes us back half a century in time, but there is another claim to fame which takes us back for well over a century, right back to the late 1800s.

    That sensational claim to fame was the Klondike Gold Rush away up in the Yukon. Sion was completely caught up in that massive development.

    As a reminder of this, the Sion area has a professionally-produced, handsome metal plaque mounted on a post at the entrance to the farm of area resident James Careless, announcing that the Klondike Trail went through here. ...

    "...The James Careless Klondike Trail marker described above is located on James' historic Careless farm beside Range Road 13, a mile west of Gary and Sharon Careless and a couple of miles east of the Sion Hall. We filmed James and the plaque in a digital video documentary, and then proceeded to engage in communications with the producers of the plaque, the Klondike Trail Society, headquartered in Fort Assiniboine.

    Our thanks to the Society for providing us with some excellent information on the old Klondike Trail, and particular thanks to the Society's Directors Fred and Janice Godberson, who live southwest of Barrhead.

    "Janice and I own land near where the trail crossed the Pembina River. . . . We have found about a mile of the old Hudson's Bay Pack Trail which was also used during the Klondike attempts. We got the location from the Dominion Land Survey of the area which was done in 1903 to 1905."

    I told Fred about a cousin of mine whose family moved from the Deadman Lake area of Sturgeon County and crossed the Pembina River by ferry up in northwest Barrhead County near Fawcett, where they proceeded to prove up and develop a homestead.

    That was 75 years ago, back in the fall of 1931. Those were the good old horse and wagon (sleigh in winter) days. Cousin Art Plitt wrote a book about those early days in the dirty thirties. His book about his memories of growing up in the 1930s depression on a wilderness homestead is titled "West of the Pembina," and is available at Audrey's Bookstore in Edmonton.

    I told Fred Godberson about Art's book, and remarked that the Plitts must have taken their horse-and-wagon and sleigh caravan north over the old Klondike Trail. Fred e-mailed back to tell me he had just bought Art's book and was reading it. "They probably did not use the Edmonton to Fort Assiniboine trail, but used the old Athabasca Landing Trail," he said.

    The Hudson's Bay Company developed the Athabasca Landing Trail to replace the original Klondike Trail which was developed north from Edmonton through the Deadman Lake area in Sturgeon County away back in the mid 1800s.

    The new Hudson's Bay Trail was on better ground and was more usable in wet weather. Records written by travelers from the old Fort Assiniboine Trail mention the swampy conditions around Deadman Lake which sometimes made travel through there a bit treacherous.

    My grandparents, Ludwig and Wilhelmina Plitt, and their family (including my mother Emma Plitt) settled on a farm on the east shore of Deadman Lake away back in the mid-1920s, and as a boy I often heard stories about the old Klondike Trail which had gone through this area in the late 1800s. The south end of the Plitt Farm bordered the Alexander Indian Reserve.

    We often wondered whether one or more of the Klondike gold seekers of the late 1800s had lost their lives and gone down in the lake. Fred has answered that question for me: "One story that we have about Deadman Lake is that it was an employee of the Hudson's Bay Company that drowned while hunting ducks. He was buried near the lake and the grave was marked with stones."

    The first 90-mile stretch of the old Klondike Trail out of Edmonton is now primarily in developed areas, but the trail can still be located in bush land. Records quoted by historian and author J.G. Macgregor indicate that nearly 1600 (about 1560) gold seekers passed through Edmonton in 1897-98. Of these, nearly 800 tried the Klondike Trail through Fort Assiniboine and over the Swan Hills. Only 160 of them reached the Yukon. Nearly 600 turned back or stayed in the area, and 35 died on the trail.

    Records show that about 4000 horses left Edmonton for the Yukon on the overland trail. Only half reached Peace River, and not one reached the Yukon. Many of the horses died in the Swan Hills, where a hill near Deer Mountain was said to be white with horse bones.

    The overland route from Edmonton to Dawson City in the Yukon was 1,446 miles long and passed through St. Albert, Lac La Nonne (including the Sion area), Fort Assiniboine, Grouard and Peace River.

    When the Edmonton Bulletin reported the Yukon gold strike in a May edition of 1897 the first 90 miles of the trail were already in place. It was a pack horse trail and was used for moving furs and other goods to and from the upper and lower Athabasca River.

    Main stopping places on the old Klondike Trail included Riviere Qui Barre, Sion, Lac La Nonne, and Belvedere or McDonald's Crossing.

    A combination of Klondike gold seekers, the promises of the Homestead Land Act and the northward progress of land surveyors, all combined to quicken rural development along the Klondike Trail. By 1899 the community of Sion had not just one but two trading posts. Farther up the trail stores were in operation on both sides of the Pembina River at the Belvedere Crossing.

    Andy Tuttle squatted on NE 28-59-3-W5th and built a trading post beside the trail near present-day Barrhead. Today much of the old trail has been replaced by paved Highway No. 33.

    One very informative Klondike Trail sign is on Highway 18, two miles north and half a mile east of Barrhead. A roadside turnout lets you view a picture and read a historical message.

    For another thread, this is also interesting history from this write-ups index page:

    The Story of Christian Zionism

    Interestingly I was Googling an RV resort at Lake Majeau (same area) and came across a reference to some 1930 or so Communist association near that lake.
    Last edited by KC; 09-06-2017 at 06:31 PM.

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    Interesting story. ...there still a lot of gold in the North Saskatewan. , remember talking to a guy back in the 80's near Devon. He run his dredge and make $200/ day. Good money back then. Till he got in trouble and shut down.

    The bigger score I hear is the platinum, they look like smooshed bullets so , not knowing what it is they use to just throw it back. worth more than gold

    Always wanted find the real fort Edmonton, think that's near Fort Saskatewan and the first garbage dump was near Rundle park --where the dog park is. Been warned not to go near the pond as the lead from the old cans etc,,,..sites still contaminated <____not sure if true.
    Last edited by champking; 09-06-2017 at 11:36 PM.


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