Nice work, History Hunter

Nice work, History Hunter I enjoyed the article The Dalton Trail Followed Many Different Routes, by Michael Gates, published on February 12 in the Yukon News. In 1898, my grandfather (Mark Odell) was prospecting for gold in the Yukon. He mined at the hea

I enjoyed the article The Dalton Trail Followed Many Different Routes, by Michael Gates, published on February 12 in the Yukon News.

In 1898, my grandfather (Mark Odell) was prospecting for gold in the Yukon. He mined at the headwaters of Wolverine Creek, south of Fort Selkirk, over the 1898-1899 winter, before hiking out of the Yukon with little gold in February and March of 1899. The family has his diary, several newspaper articles he wrote about his Yukon adventure, and about 100 photos of the adventure.

In August of 1898, more than 10 stampeders dug shafts near the headwaters of Wolverine Creek, where the north-running creek bends to the east and flows to the Yukon. Wolverine Creek enters the Yukon River from the west a few miles south of Fort Selkirk. The miners returned to Fort Selkirk after a few weeks. One of the party (Tom Wood) decided to leave the Yukon. My grandfather’s diary entry for August 25, 1898, in part states “Tom (Wood) hit the Dalton trail for the coast in the morning.” On September 1, 1898, four of the prospectors (Mark Odell, Ellis Aldrich, Walt Hoglen, and Harry Granger) returned to their digs near the headwaters of Wolverine Creek, where they found a note left by Wood on his hike out of the Yukon. The diary entry states in part: “Reached old stamping grounds in PM. Found note left by Tom.”

I had always figured that the northern branch of the Dalton Trail passed very close to my grandfather’s old mining site near the headwaters of Wolverine Creek. Why else would Tom Wood have hiked many miles off the Dalton Trail to leave a note to his buddies when he was with them when he left Fort Selkirk?

In the early 1990s, when I was in Whitehorse, the staff of the Yukon Archives were unable to find records of the precise location of the Dalton Trail. I left the archives when it closed and used the bathroom. Before exiting the main door from the lobby outside the archives, I noticed a framed map of the Dalton Trail over a window looking from the lobby into the archives. The map was taken from an 1898 survey of the Dalton Trail. It showed the northern branch of the Dalton Trail as crossing over a low mountain pass where Wolverine Creek starts, following along the creek northward to where the creek bends eastward, continuing eastward along the creek, and then turning northward and continuing to Fort Selkirk.

No one at the achieves had remembered this map.

The full survey was housed at the Canadian Archives in Ottawa.

Steve Lundin

Olympia, Washington