Tom shows off the nugget of gold he received in payment for building an outhouse at the Discovery Claim near Pine Creek. (Contributed photo)

Tom shows off the nugget of gold he received in payment for building an outhouse at the Discovery Claim near Pine Creek. (Contributed photo)

There’s gold in them thar hills

Tom recounts his adventure of travelling to northern B.C. in search of gold

I have had some bad breaks and I’ve had some good breaks. This was a sweet opportunity that took a bit of persuasion to achieve. I had been working for Huckleberry 12 years and was feeling the need for a change.

The foreman had just received five months off to drive his motorcycle to Patagonia. Why can’t I ask for five months off to go and look for gold in Atlin, Manson Creek, the Dease/Cassiar and Dawson City, Yukon. Sounded like a good idea to me. Now, if I can just convince my wife.

My wife was all for it so then I got a little concerned that maybe she was moving me out for someone else to move in. That did not seem to be the case so with the OK from work, let the adventure begin.

A small going away party with some encouraging friends and Mary dressed as a Can-Can gal helped set the tone. I loaded the eight-foot camper and pulled the ATV on the trailer with my mini sluice, genset, a box of tools and a canoe. Ok, I was a bit overloaded but you never know what you’re going to need.

The drive up Hwy 37 can claim to be one of the prettiest. The scenery just keeps getting better and everything feels fuller as you embrace the north. Turning left onto the Alaska highway is another good moment because it takes a lot of road work to reach a destination up there.

Finally Jakes Corner and the Atlin Lakes, little and big come into view. I start to get excited when I am entering uncharted territory. New adventures and interesting people await.

Atlin did not disappoint. My first stop was the graveyard. It’s a strange habit, but I like to read those old pioneer epitaphs. Right off, the first hour in town, I met these two ladies. They were checking for a gravesite for one’s late husband. He was a pioneer, had a claim out on McKee Creek. He had found the mini bread loaf gold nugget that was quite famous.

Did I want to come to the celebration of life? they asked. Oh, for sure, and that’s how life in Atlin begins. Friendly and welcoming in this beautiful village along the shore of a seriously big lake that has a large mountain resting on an island out in the middle of the water. I located a nice place to camp and somehow spent the better part of a month getting to know the area a little bit.

Seems I wasn’t the only Smithereen around and before long I just happened to cross paths with Cody and his Dad, Doug. They were working with John up on a claim along Spruce creek. Did I want to come up for a look? Wood eye (peg leg) that’s why I’m here and before long I was immersed in this interesting lifestyle.

The loader dumps the gravel into the grizzly atop of the long tom sluice and the waste comes out the other end leaving, with a bit of luck, some gold in the box.

Then it’s the heavy job of cleanup and dumping the five-gallon pails of paydirt into the centrifuge. Quite the operation for sure.

Returning to town, I passed the Discovery Claim along Pine Creek and decided to walk through some of the old buildings. This is truly my happy place as I visualize the heyday and kick a few stones. I thought the site would be abandoned but after several minutes a lady came along and asked me what the hell I was doing wandering around her property.

Dang, caught again, but with a few compliments on her property and a few questions on the history she relaxed and we chatted amicably. Seemed she had a problem and could I help.

“I need a new outhouse and can you build me one; I’ll pay you in gold,” she said. That word seems to always generate my interest. For sure, I just happen to have my genset and tools with me. We scrounged some old boards and fashioned a structure over a new containment pit.

Some two days later we had a showpiece put together. True to her word I became the proud owner of a little piece of Discovery history.

So, the adventure continues and hopefully I can generate a bit of your interest to continue several chapters along the gold trail.

Thanks for reading and send me your adventures tr.ranch@hotmail.com or call 250-877-1806.

Tom

 

Tom surveys his handiwork, an outhouse he built at the Discovery Claim near Pine Creek. (Contributed photo)

Tom surveys his handiwork, an outhouse he built at the Discovery Claim near Pine Creek. (Contributed photo)