Sometimes you just have a hankering for looking at old cans.

And that wasn’t the case today, when we set out this afternoon for a drive, but that’s where our exploration took us!

It was a gorgeous Sunday. Sunny, warm (20 degrees C’ish). We’ve had a cool and wet spring that just kept lingering on, but it really feels like the good weather is here now! We thought the backroad would be super muddy, but we could at least scout out new possible firewood sources.

The Arctic lupines are in bloom all along the goldfield roads. This one is on Dominion.

Beautiful flowers, the first spring colour along the roadsides.

There is still snow here and there, in the shade, and along the river beds. This is a glacier that covers the road in the winter, building higher and higher, and has now receded back off the road, with an interesting hollow crevice below it!

Under the snow and ice, the water is running down to a culvert that goes under the road.

Not far down Dominion, my eyes caught a pile of old cans along the side of the road. We found piles like this near here last year too. This area was burned in 2019 by a forest fire, and it burned off some of the organics exposing all the old garbage from early gold miners.

Here you see a stove pipe at the bottom of the picture and fuel cans above it. How long ago were these deposited here? I have no idea. The area was once known as “Caribou” and was a tent and small cabin mining camp dating back to 1898.

I found some old photos of the area that Eric Hegg took in 1898. Click through these links to see:

https://digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu/digital/collection/hegg/id/652/rec/2
https://digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu/digital/collection/hegg/id/352/
https://digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu/digital/collection/hegg/id/601/

There are so many Eagle Brand condensed milk cans here. They were first made in 1856. The heat from the forest fire has melted the solder and you can see it dripping out of the can seals a bit. Did everyone go mad with lead poisoning back then?

Hey someone was here before us, because these two pieces didn’t get on this stump by themselves!

There are lots of fuel cans here though, which makes me think it isn’t from the original 1898 group of gold miners. I’m not convinced they used fuel in 1898 though!

Years later the dredges came through here. Were they from the dredge era?

Each old camp we stopped at had a unique mixture of cans. Some were opened roughly maybe with a knife, some just had a couple holes, and some were opened much neater.

There was glass too. Old bottles, clear, and brown, and lots of purple glass!

By the way, this is going to be so beautiful in a week or two. All this greenery is fireweed that is going to be bright and purple and pink soon! Thanks forest fire!

We’ve had so much rain, but it was surprising just how dry this area was anyway. The fire didn’t really burn much of the organics. Another lighting strike here has plenty of material to burn.

In Pierre Berton’s Drifting Home book, he said:

Great caches of tin cans could be found behind every cabin and even where the cabins had rotted away, these troves of old tins marked spots where men had once lived and worked. There were hundred of cabins and thus hundreds of thousands of tin cans – bully beef, creamed corn, butter, devilled ham, lard, tomatoes, beans, beans, beans, preserved fruit, soup. Without the invention of the canning process, the Yukon could never have been settled.

– Pierre Berton, Drifting Home

I wonder what was in this can with the 6 holes! Any guesses? Anyone know anything about cans and how to identify what they contained or when they were left here?

And look! This isn’t a can, but a broken old shovel!

And Jeff handed me this bone fragment. I don’t know what it was from. But why is it still in my pocket?

From what I can tell, this says “Crosse & Blackwell London”. I found a history of the company here but I’ve been unable to find any way to date the age of that stamp on the bottom of the can, other than it is old.

This old brown bottle still had a cap! But unfortunately, no bottom.

I found lots of pieces of dishes, and then, presto! An old spoon! Wow! I bet someone was looking for this for awhile!

I didn’t find any dishes intact. Here is what is left of a tea cup.

And some sort of porcelain jug or canister.

This spot had more clear bottles than the other places we explored.

But really not much else is left. Just garbage and broken things.

All freshly exposed because of the fire a couple years ago.

This must have been a drinking glass. I found several of various types. This one was that purple glass again, unless the fire or heat turned it purple?

Wait, this one doesn’t fit the era! Wonder what this was. Can of bug spray? WD40? Spray paint? Tossed off a truck? It wasn’t far off the road.

This was right beside the road. Old snare? Big gauge wire though. Wolf snare? Or just something wired to a tree that has since burned up.

Oh neat, an old stove!

More fuel cans on this spot. Some old holes too, like they were digging shafts. Those can looks like it was recycled into a pail?

The cans in this spot weren’t as rusty and were different sizes – bigger sized cans than the previous spots we explored.

I thought I had finally found an intact glass!!! But alas, no, there was no bottom.

There was some sort of telegraph line that went through here. These metal rails are all along the road, and there was once a big telephone pole beside it. The hardware is still nearby and you can find ceramic insulators, or pieces of them, in places.

The line was also never retrieved, and is just a nice tripping hazard, lying across the forest duff.

I mean, this is terrible, how much trash was left here by the early miners, but I still think it is fascinating to explore.

Are you tired of pictures of old cans yet? No? Good! I have some more.

This was the nicest painted piece of dish I found, and the glass top that I bet came off of a kerosene lamp.

More purple!

The next spot had a bunch of old boot treads and pieces of boots.

Anyone recognize the symbol on this can? Almost seems the size of an old tobacco can. Actually, the symbol looks similar to the symbol on Old Virginia tobacco cans.

More boots here, and more porcelain.. porcelain something or other, can’t tell what.

Looks like someone has been here collecting the intact clear glass bottles.

Any ideas how old? Says ‘Made in Canada’ and several numbers, 6731. I see a D in a diamond chape which leads me to believe it is a Dominion Glass bottle, who didn’t use that trademark until after 1928 until the 70’s.

Another old stove! This one is just a barrel stove.

Not a clue what this contraption is.

But back on the road, fresh flowers in an elastic!? What the heck? Where did these come from!?

Finally a cabin still standing? Well, sorta standing?

Okay, just a pile of old logs and boards and nails.

The roof was flattened fuel cans! Recycling! Under the flattened cans were several layers of a tar paper.

Down the road, another stove! A nice one. The door still opened, but the top and the racks from inside were long gone.

Another boot tread.

Further down the road, and I won’t tell you exactly where, we found real treasure! This is an old drag line it looks like, from an old dredge!

And near by, an old bucket line! Cool! Now I know how so many people end up with one of these on their lawn. Although they certainly didn’t lift one of these by themselves!

Think of all the flowers you could plant in one of these!

Then, all of a sudden, we crested a hill and Jeff stomped on the brakes. BEAR!! And what is that behind the bear!?

BABY BEAR!

I thought it was a grizzly from a distance, but no, no characteristic hump. Seems to be just a brown shaded black bear.

I wish I took a video. The little cub was so cute!! Bouncing around, chasing its mom.

Further down the road, we spotted a swan at the edge of a marsh.

What a great afternoon! My legs are all scratched up and bit by mosquitos, since it is shorts season! But who cares, it is summer! I peeked out the blinds before bed last night and saw a beautiful sunshine (12:47am!) And goodness, I guess I know what window I’m washing next!