Back in the Klondike Gold Rush, Dawson City wasn’t the only town around here. The town of Grand Forks sprung up at the confluence of Bonanza Creek and Eldorado Creek, located today about 17 km out Bonanza Road from Dawson City.

Grand Forks was located just past the site of the discovery of gold in August 1896. Quickly the town had 10,000 people, electricity, hotels, restaurants, banks, churches, stores, stables, saloons, a blacksmith shop, an ice house, a public bath, bakeries, a school, and barber shops!

The odd thing though – it is entirely gone now. The entire town, all the cabins, all the buildings. Gone.

The town’s peak was only a few years, with some hanging on until 1910 or so. By the 1920’s, the gold minings dredges moved through the town site, chewing it all up, leaving nothing behind. To bury it even further, tailings were dropped off the hill above. There is just about nothing at all left from the town of Grand Forks.

Except the cemetery.

We had heard the cemetery was located across the river valley, away from the town site and the chance of gold fever requiring the relocation of the burial sites some day so someone could chase a pay streak. Up a hill, safe from the gold dredges. The cemetery isn’t marked though and few people we’ve talked to know where it is, and even fewer have been there.

It took us two visits until we found it. Jeff just had a sense of where it was and hiked into the woods and found it! It was remarkable!

There are only a few wooden tombstones left, and one grave that is surrounded by a picket fence. We later learned that Ed and Star Jones helped preserve some of the history in this cemetery, just like the other cemeteries in Dawson City (read more it here: Boot Hill is all that survives of grandest town in the gold fields) which is the only reason anything at all is left here.

We could make out grave sized mounds in the ground, that seemed to be in three rows. But only a few were marked, and most of the markers were no longer readable.

William H Cooper maybe? September 11th, 189?

I’d love to know who is buried inside the picket fence. There is no marker. There is only one grave with a fence, or at least one only grave where a fence has survived. And it was big – maybe there are more than one person buried here.

It always feels really special to connect in some way with the history of this Klondike area. Visiting the final resting place of these pioneers was a memorial experience.

Since we were out on our quads, we did some more exploring. Our friends had never seen the deep old mine shaft we visited before, so we headed back there. There is a lot of water in places, roads that are completely washed out. In fact Bonanza Road was even closed for road repairs. Some photos of our adventures:

The hole under this headframe is SO DEEP! If you drop a rock down it, it take a second or maybe more before you hear it hit the bottom! It must be 200 or more feet deep! Imagine working at the bottom of that?

This is an odd place that takes quite a while to get to, yet you can somehow see town way way way down the Eldorado river valley, so there is a one bar of cell service here!

It sure was GREAT to be back in the woods, in the summer! The smell of the spruce, the crunch of gravel in your teeth, the first of the mosquitos. I even took a bumble bee off the lips when we were driving down a road! It was a fabulous day!