Yukon Animator

Into the Beautiful North!

Break Up

The Yukon River and Dawson City

The Yukon River and Dawson City

I will just miss ‘Break Up’, the moment when the Yukon River ice in front of Dawson breaks up and starts to flow.  Below is last year’s break up, on May 7, 2011 at 4.25 PM.  Dawsonians have been keeping track of the exact minute of break up since 1896, which was on May 19 at 2:35 PM.

Dawson City Break Up on May 7, 2011 at 4.25 PM.

Dawson City Break Up on May 7, 2011 at 4.25 PM.

Nearly everyone in Dawson buys a ticket and places a bet on the month, day and minute they think break up will happen.  To record the moment, they put a tripod on the ice that is connected by a cable to a clock at the Danoja Zho Cultural Center.  When the ice starts moving, it stops the clock and records the exact time.  Then an alarm sounds and everyone leaves work and school and goes down to the Yukon River.

Hiking on the Yukon River with Karen and Tom

Nature here is spectacular but people say they miss loons, crickets and fireflies.  I love being here in winter.  The cold is easy to handle with layered clothing and a big parka.  It is a dry cold that doesn’t get into my bones like the damp cold in Oregon.  Dawson City is incredibly quiet (very little traffic, no stop lights, no industry in town), the sparkling snowy landscape is clean and lovely and 14 hours of sunshine daily (only one snowstorm in 3.5 weeks) is delightful.  But as the snow melts, we get to see the trash that has been jettisoned all winter long and many months of frozen dog shit are appearing.  Locals say there are more dogs than people in Dawson.

Tr'ondek Hwech'in beadwork on a dress at the Danoja Zho Cultural Center.

Tr’ondek Hwech’in beadwork on a dress at the Danoja Zho Cultural Center.

Dredge #4, Bonanaza Creek

Behemoth relic of the first Gold Rush: Dredge #4 on Bonanaza Creek.

Andreas and I took a break from the short film screenings and drove out the icy road to Bonanza Creek, the site of the gold discovery that brought 100,000 gold seekers to the Klondike (translated from Tr’ondek) between 1897 and 1899.  We stopped at gold Dredge No. 4 (above), which operated 24 hours a day from 1913 until 1966.  It is now a National Historic Site.  No. 4 was the largest wooden hulled bucket lined dredge in North America and it dug up mountains of earth as it churned through the creeks.  The entire valley is lined with thousands of huge worm shaped mounds, the tailings left by 53 years of scooping and processing by the dredges.

DIY in Dawson: There is no sign shop.

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4 comments on “Break Up

  1. Dan Fiebiger
    April 9, 2012

    isn’t it amazing how humans manage to create an existence in virtually any environment. Talk about being adaptive. A good example of the power of the human spirit.

  2. Rob Bekuhrs
    April 10, 2012

    What a great opportunity, so nice that you’re able to enjoy it. Must be about the best time to be there. Maybe blackflies get that far north in the summer months, even heard of snow mosquitos, and too many hours of sun might be maddening…14 hours sounds nice, though.
    My dad made the mistake of taking off a large glove to get a better grip on a wrench while working somewhere up in Frostbite Falls. Glad you got the warning to avoid such an event!

    • Yukon Animator
      April 18, 2012

      Sorry about what happened to your dad. Frostbite with gloves off can occur in minutes here.

  3. cconifer
    April 10, 2012

    I like foot washing: that’s why I do it with every client who comes for a facial! HAPPY EASTER!

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This entry was posted on April 9, 2012 by in Dawson City, Yukon and tagged , , , , , , .
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