Dawson City was at the heart of one of the world’s greatest Gold Rushes. One gold nugget that was found in the region weighed 72 oz!

Gold Panning Dawson © Lucy Izon

Gold Panning Bonanza Creek, Dawson City © Lucy Izon

Dawson City, Yukon – In 1900 Dawson was the largest city west of Winnipeg and north of San Francisco, which all happened in a flash because it was the site of one of the world’s greatest gold rushes.

On August 16th, 1896 a nugget of gold was discovered in Bonanza Creek. When the word got out fortune-seekers from throughout North America headed for the ‘Klondike’. About 100,000 prospectors attempted to reach the region over the next two years. About 40,000 made it. Dawson City had been just a small tent town where the Yukon and Klondike rivers converged. In no time it was second only San Francisco in size in the west.

Gold Pan Bonanza Creek, Dawson City

Gold Pan Bonanza Creek, Dawson City

One gold nugget was unearthed that weighed over 72 ounces, worth over $30,000 today. I learned while I was there that the phrase to ‘Grease someone’s palms’ actually originated with the gold rush. When gold dust was brought into be sold there were some unscrupulous buyers who would grease their palms, so some of the dust would stick unnoticed, and they would keep it. I also was amused to see a sign in the Dawson City Airport that was an ad for a local hotel, which stated they they would still accept gold dust as payment for a room.

Today the population of Dawson City is about 2,000. The residents celebrate their colourful gold rush history with events such as Dawson’s Discovery Day (the third Monday in August) and with year-round venues like Diamond Tooth Gerties Saloon, which features gambling and dance hall girls. Visit the area and you can still try gold panning yourself.


Klondike Highway, Dawson, Yukon Territories, Canada


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