alan skeoch
Jan.  2021

This suburban Georgetown street on the east side of Trafalgar Road preys on my mind every time  I drive by.  
(just beside the rail line) The pace  of change
has been feverish  in the last several decades.  Can’t be  helped.  Can’t be stopped.  May well be  a
force for good.

But change means loss.  New replaces old.  Take  close look at this street…then try to superimpose
a time when the street was  not there…when a large beautiful barn sat four square on the ground
that is now asphalt enclosed by nice residential houses.

Over the years I took several pictures of that barn…even when its demolition was apparent.  Even
when fire nearly preceded the demolition.




alan skeoch
Jan. 2021

The  early placer miners took risks when excavating holes in the frozen gravel of the Yukon.  As did
the hard rock miners.   Safety precautions were good to fair but not  perfect. Whether they
dug vertically (shafts) or horizontally (adits) there was always the danger the permafrost that locked the
gravel would melt and the holes they dug  would collapse.  To keep these excavations safe  there had
to be a lot of timbering inside.  

Surprisingly the old mines that were allowed to flood  once abandoned are even now quite safe once
drained while the mines that did not fill with water are dangerous because the timbers are prone to
dry rot which means they lose their strength.

Moses Lord, Dinky and  I found one adit which we  were able to explore.  The adit was frozen.   Ice 
crystals made it stunningly beautiful as  you will see below.  Permafrost had  its grip  on the
passageway so we felt quite safe.  Whether this  safety was an  illusion or not.

alan skeoch
Jan. 2021

Two young miners excavating an adit.   The walls would have to be timbered fast.

Imagine trying to hand drill a hole for explosives.   Imagine working in a mine where standing  straight was  impossible.
Would you put your trust in that post and  wedge that is holding up the ceiling?   Miners in Dublin Gulch, Keno Hill, Wernecke Camp, Elsa, 
Calumet, Silver King, Peso Silver took  lots of risks.  Some died in mine accidents.   Many more were crippled by silicosis and poisons
in the water they drank.  To this day…January 17, 2021…drinking water in Keno City has to be trucked in by the Yukon government.

Pictures taken in August 1962.   How long would it take to clothe this mine adit in these crystals? 

Both of these fellows were great teammates on our jobs.  Both were members of the local First Nations people in Mayo Landing.
I would never have found this adit were it not for Moses Lord.  

alan skeoch
Jan. 17 2021




alan skeoch
Jan. 2021

By now you must find gold rather boring.

Largest old nugget ever found…20 ounces
Jack Acheson’s was 7 ounces,  about 1/3 this size.

Tuesday, July 31, 1962

What a beautiful day.   Bill Dunn, Andy and I walked and waded up Haggart Creek
to see Jack Acheson at his hydraulic operation.  He suggested we look at his 
shaft and do some gold panning with gravel concentrate taken off his sluice box.
Later he showed us some gold nuggets.

Strolled  back to camp and tried to divert a part of the stream through our
camp like the placer miners do in order to get water running through their
sluice boxes.   (Why did I want to divert the creek? Makes no sense.)

Bill Scott, Hans Buhr and  Axel arrived … we packed and moved to town for
the evening. I was not too hot on the idea  but it was cheaper.  Bill Dunn and
I had a  couple of beers in the Silver Inn and then walked  home at dusk. 
Watched a silver headed resident who was drunk trying to beat time to the
music machine  then fell asleep with his  coffee cup  in his mouth.  Not 
really funny.

Expenses   meals   3.65

Wednesday  August 1, 1962

Arose late and had  Marjorie’s package of  Sugar Pops  for breakfast…she
sends interesting packages.   Then walked around Mayo Landing looking st 
all the gardens with envy…took pictures…long summer days inYukon means great
growing season.

Bought $20 worth of grub for the Hans Buhr campsite.  Met little Patricia Gilroy
who is 5 years old or so…she  came running down  the street to take my hand…
calls me ‘uncle’…I walked her home.   There are normal families in the Yukon
I must say that overland over again lest people believe the  Territory is filled with 24 year olds
summer miners and aged like I have  implied.

Later we  drove the Land Rover back to Dublin Gulch….60 mile  trip each time.

I had a very pleasant supper with Jack Acheson at his camp…roast beef
and Yorkshire pudding in his old log cabin.  Cooked by Mrs. Hanson the
is partly First Nations.   Jack has a very nice  crew or maybe they are partners….
Bob. Don and Albert.

Jack showed me a huge tooth from  a Hairy Mammoth or a Mastodon…10,000
or maybe 50,000 years old.  (which he gave to me later…see earlier story) 
Then we looked over his collection of ancient tusks
leaning against the outside  wall of the cabin.

Then we  watched  him weigh his  gold….125 ounces  this week.
(Note: gold in 2021 is $2,000 and ounce, therefore Jack’s weekly find was 
worth $250.000 today but only $4,375 in 1962.  By 1966 Jack did not get
enough gold to pay his bills according to Dr. Aho in his book Hills of Silver.

Thursday August 2, 1962

Up at 6 a.m. Had open air breakfast  then on
the job  by 7 a.m.  Long hard day with seismic machine.  The forcite explosives
gave both Bill Scott and me migraine headaches….called glycerine headaches as
beaded material on sticks of  forcite is absorbed by our skin.

We managed to do 6 determinations…sites.  Does not look good.  Permafrost
lurks just below surface.  Cannot get sound waves to travel.

Had a brief lunch with Albert who was clearing a tunnel into the shoulder  of
the hill in search for gold bearing gravels…if found then hydraulic hose
and bulldozer and dragline would move in I assumed.

Managed to pick a tin can full of blueberries…big berries.  Walked
home down Haggart Creek in he evening and had delicious supper with 
Axel…pork chops and potatoes.

After supper  Bill and I strengthened the tent.  Not proud  of our work.

Our Seismic results are not good.   Must inform Jack Acheson tomorrow
which is something we are not looking forward to doing

Friday, August  3, 1962

Up at 6 a.m.  Out to see Jack. Gave him  the bad news then did a test determination on
bedrock…2800 feet per second…very slow…confirmed our view that permafrost problem

Drove up to tell Mrs. Anson we would not be here for supper then drove onto  see Fred Taylor
…tell him that the seismogrph was not good at all in the area.   Fred was disappointed but
cheerful…showed us some of his slides…had a chocolate bar … invited Fred down to our
camp.   We are not sure how  this  failed project is financed…not our side of the business…expect
there will be no charge

 failed in effort to divert some water to our site vis a sluice system.  Failure.   (not sure why
we did this).  Ron,  Buddy, Fred and Neil dropped into our camp for a visit…usual camaraderie.

Mail from Marjorie.   Will sleep  in tomorrow.

The placer gold miners were hoping we could tell them depth of  overburden to bed rock
which would  help them decide where to strip the gravel.   No luck.

Fred’s slides…fireweed, Dinky aRay Harris,Fred, Len,Alan, Peso Silver camp

Saturday August 4, 1962

Not much doing today.   Built frame for cook tent then discovered maggots in the Polish
sausage and  slab of bacon.   Washed them out in Haggart Creek.  Hope I got them all…ghastly
looking things.    I wonder what kind of pollutants are in the Haggart Creek water…certainly lots
of lead which is not good.   Maybe  the lead will kill the maggots.


 This  is how the Eagle Gold  Mine operates today.  Immense machines but the system is 
essentially the same as the old gold banners … much liike Jack’s system.  The Eagle mine
seems to be  working over the same ground catching the gold others  missed…and then
stopping more and more overburden.

Work History (Report by Eagle Gold)

Placer gold was discovered on Haggart Creek in 1895 and on Dublin Gulch in 1898. The first hard rock claims were recorded in Oct/1901 and included Dublin Lode (2404), North Star and numerous other claims. In 1904 a 14 m adit was driven on the Dublin Lode claim. By 1912, development work had been recorded on five separate claim groups. On the Stewart-Catto claim group (Happy Jack (8029) and Victoria (8022) claims) recorded in Jun-Oct/08, two adits were driven, the first 38 m long and off vein, and the second a 600 m crosscut which included 23 m of drifting on vein. On the Olive claim (8025) recorded in Jun/08, a 21 meter adit was driven, the last metre of which was on the vein. Trenching and pitting was performed on the Shamrock claim group, while an 8 m shaft was sunk on the Blue Lead claim group (8049), recorded in Dec/09.

T. McKay and A.H. Martin tied on Bob (55056), Mucking Futch, and other claims to the Olive claim in Nov/37, prospected with pits and shallow shafts in 1938 and sold the claims to Treadwell Yukon Ltd, which performed more trenching. The property was transferred to Keno Hill Mining Company Ltd in 1946.

Restaked as Avoca, etc cl (59052) in Oct/48 by J.B. O’Neill and J.J. Colt, who explored with hand and bulldozer trenching in 1949-54, sold an interest in 1958 to E.H. Barker, who trenched in 1958-61 and sold the property to Peso Silver Mines Ltd in 1962. Peso performed trenching in 1962.”

EPISODE 226 YUKON DIARY MONDAY JULY 16 1962 TO Monday July 30, 1962

EPISODE 224    YUKON DIARY      Monday July 16,1962 to Monday July 30,  1962

alan skeoch
jan.  2021
Turam harness was elaborate.  If we met a hungry Bear escape would be difficult.

“God I loved those jobs…remember each one to this day but the Yukon job is best because  I kept a detailed diary.”

Bill Dunn and Alan Skeoch…swimming…alone on this wilderness Yukon lake.
One of our campsites…looks a little messy but it was clean.  That’s Andy the Korean War Vet holding the pot and spoon which meant it was  his day to do he cooking. We never complained to a cook.  Had we done so we would never get a cook.  Those are socks on the guideline.  Meat was always strung high in a tree to discourage bears.  Garbage  was burned.  Dishes were washed. Socks were Most important pieces  of clothing. Water was dangerous as streams may have had arsenic, cadmium, certainly lead in
the water.  Easier to drink beer and safer.
Monday July 16, 1962
Breakfast of Prem*, orange  juice, crackers, cheese snd  coffee then  began packing.  Mailed books to mom and Marjorie then met Henry who insisted I have coffee with him.  Nice.
(*we called it Clap)
In  the pouring rain we loaded the 1953  Dodge  Power  wagon again for the Silver Titan job.  then  drove to Cecils’ where we were surprised to find a brand new  campsite..neat…like a military camp…new tents lined up with precision…clean as a whistle.  Had a delicious meal…better than canned meat and sardines and pork and beans.  Then got our new home  in order….12 x 14 foot tent with wood  walls and  floor.   Old Ted Swanson supervised.
Bill Dunn arrived back in camp….we traded stories for an hour
expenses  Meals  1.50
Tuesday  July 17, 1962
Got base line cable  ready  then drove to Proctor’s and began stringing cable ….. 12,000  feet.
A long and agonizing day…reels weigh about 50 lbs.  Drove back to camp for gas and field books.
Started reading console for 20 stations…..2,000 feet then had trouble with motor generator .
Took picture of old shaft with windlass on top.   System was strange.  In order to get to gold baring gravel the old placer miners had to dig vertical shafts through the permafrost.  To do this they had to heat the ground in order to loosen the gravel from the icy grip of ancient frost.  Then haul the waste gravel up using the windlass and tub.  At least I think that was how it was done.
Wednesday July 18  1962
Had 10 cable breaks in morning, but did manage 13,600 feet of line….2.72 miles.
Thursday,  July  19, 1962
Bills Scott, Bill Dunn and I had  a  successful day…14,300 feet read (2.86 miles).  The bush was hot as hell
Swimming was unusual.  Picture of  Bill Dunn and I swimming somewhere near our Silver Titan site.  But we had taken time to make a raft so this picture does  not make sense  unless we found the raft already  made.  Pic shows Bill Dunn on the left.  Whose underwear needed cleaning the most?
At four we knocked off and went for swim in a little lake…good way to wash
our underwear.  Wonderful swim.     Letters from home report that cucumbers and tomatoes  are good at farm.
Ed Jackman wrote (Dominican priest now) to report he is surrounded by Nuns.  Drove to Elsa for ice cream only to find the store closed.
Friday, July 20, 1962
Hard day in bush…19,000 feet .. 3.82 miles.
Returned to camp to find that Ted Swanson had shot a bear…a grizzly.   I just hate the worship of guns here in the Yukon .  No reason to shoot the bear….depressing to see the corpse on the trail.  Our company, Hunting Tech, does not include guns in bush camps…a  ‘no no’…I remember asking Floyd Faulkner why ?  His answer.
“If guns were in camps we would shoot each other.”…a joke but the joke has
some meaning.  Tensions can get high on some jobs.  That was especially so
on the Groundhog River job when three of us were in total wilderness isolation for more than two months.
Drove to Mayo for a  milk shake made with 1 can of condensed milk slightly shaken.  Lousy taste.  Girls in Mayo gave me a rough time.  I forgot my pants were torn…no underwear on…kept winking at me…sort of funny.
Saturday, July 21, 1962
Rain for first two hours then Andy and I drove into the bush to begin work.
Good progress…12,500 line feet…2.5 miles.
These plastic car coins were free in boxes of cereal.   Good for rewards.  “Special award to A. Skeoch and team on August 23, 1962 for getting  3 line miles done in the pouring rain.”   “presented by  Axel Doulis of Rio Plata Mines, Dublin Gulch”
Blueberries are ripe and ready for picking…same applies to the swamp apples (which are too sweet…different taste.}  At lunch Andy told me some hair raising stories about the Korean war and North Korean guerrillas operating behind the lines.  Andy drove supply trucks in convoy at night. NK guerrillas would jump on board the last truck….kill driver.  Andy would jump off when that happened.  True?  False?   Check the record.
Bill Dunn joined us in the afternoon reducing work load.  Henry Robichuck and Lionel Raltin awaited  us on the road by the truck   They had been walking since 5.30 a.m. after their truck broke down on the Haggart Creek road.   Hardly a road since a good part is the riverbed.  I drove them to camp hen Bob Gilroy took them on to Mayo.
Sunday,  July 22, 1962
Overcast but no rain.  Bugs will be bad.   Bill Dunn and I got a good start. We did 14,000 line feet…2.82 mlles.   Motor cut out twice.
Andy’s feet have been terribly mangled by  his boots…cuts… open   wounds to the tendons it seems and quite infected.   He is frightened at any suggestion that he see a doctor.
The mosquitoes are sons bitches. we spent the lunch break enveloped in smoke from a smudge fire to keep the little bastards at bay.  I think we ate more smoke than food.
No danger of a forest fire…everything was soaking wet including us.   Smoke discouraged mosquitoes.
Returned to camp at 4 p.m. and began building my packing case to ship to Toronto much to the amusement of Ted.    Then John Strebchuck asked for a lift to Alex Smith’s place …took nearly an hour to get there… through Keno City road which was treacherous .   Then gathered up some of the old 1920’s wall paper from a roadhouse that was  being torn down. Roadhouse is a flattering term.  In the mid 1920’s this had been a kind of hotel…two to a bed.  Man above leaked something onto old man Wernecke while snooker guy arrived to share the lower bunk.   Copies  of  News of the World, 1916-1919 pasted to walls  as insulation.
My eyes are quite sore for some reason.
Monday July 23, 1962
The  heavens  opened up today…full day of  rain.      Got up, ate breakfast and went back to bed for an hour.   Luxury.  Spent the afternoon reading, writing and adding to my diary.
The foreman  of the diamond drill crew came into our tent and we spent time talking politics.   In the afternoon Bill drove to Mayo to phone Rosemary long distance ($8.75)  while I relaxed with my copy of Klondike and the Star Weekly (sent by Marjorie).  Then finished my packing case.
Bill Dunn examining diamond drill core at Silver Titan geologist’s shack.
At supper one of the fellows suggested the beef be wrapped in brown paper…to give the Wrigley gum people some competition.   Ted dumped sugar bowl all over…mess. Andy got cake icing all over his face.  Mess.
Bill Scott arrived back at camp with mail from Marjorie…to letters plus a Huckleberry Hound pin.  Amusing.  Bill also brought the old pick, shovel and axe that I left in the Chateau Inn after finding them in an old mine adit when  Moses  Lord, Dinky and I found an old adit entrance from the 1920’s. The tools will go in my packing crate.
Abandoned log shack somewhere near Peso Silver holdings.  Sod roof.
Election 1962…Tommy Douglas, John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson in costume from the Wizard  of Oz.  (MacPherson political cartoon)
Tuesday July 24, 1962.
Overcast and  wet but suitable enough for working…that does  not mean pleasant,  every bush we try to slide past soaks us…every mossy swamp has more water to soak into our worn out gum rubbers…wet feet are bloody uncomfortable.  But we can work…got 15,500 feet done, 3.1 line miles.   our lunch was enjoyable, a respite before we launched into swampy land  all afternoon.  All the eastern part of this base line set up is swamp.
Andy fell in the river…tough times  for him.  His feet are a nightmare…cut, cut, cut.
In the evening we went to a movie in Elsa…titled Tiger Bay…good. Drove back to camp and  had  a slice of lemon meringue pie before crawling  into my damp sleeping bag.   Nights  are getting  colder and it is only nearly end of July.   Hot days sometimes.   Cold nights most times.
Ted Scanson told story of an old man on one  bush job …a man who never washed his plate.  “reversed the plate for each meal…had a heap of driedfoodi on each side” Sometimes we must get close to that.
Wednesday July 25, 1962
Most frustrating  day.   Only got 4,300 feet done.  Trouble  with the battery connection….  off and on…short circuit or maybe  moisture…slowed us to a crawl …long time at each picket just to get signal.   Really hard to make repairs when off and on signals.
Returned to camp in hell of a mood…cursing. “Last time I will ever work with this goddamn Turam” etc. etc.  Cooled down once I realized the problem was repairable.
Ontario College of Education information arrived.  I will be a teacher in the future…sort of hard to believe.   Love this life in the bush at times but it is only for the young.
Thursday July 26,  1962
Jack Gillies arrived in camp for breakfast…drunk as  a skunk. While it was distressing to see him that way, it was also humorous.  Jack is a good natured drunk.  I have seen others who turn angry and dangerous but none of those yet in the Yukon.
The console failed again and I spent the morning checking the circuitry…found a broken connection and  soldered same.   Meanwhile I had Bill Dunn and Andy coil up the base line.  Rain  came around  lunch  but we worked through it and had the base line coiled by 3.30.
Three packages from home and  Marjorie today one of  which was a bottle of wild raspberry jam, some cookies and magazines. Old Ted Scanson came in but refused a cookie because he had  a wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth.
Jeff  Morin, the CP airline agent, paid a visit before flying home to Ireland.
We drove to Mayo Landing and registered in the Tim-O-Lou motel.  Had two rum and Coca Cola drinks at the Chateau Inn then returned to the Motel.
In the middle of the night Bill got up and drove out of town for a walk.
Nice pic of Marjorie beside  my little library and alarm  clock.   Books are important.
Seismograph did not operate for some reason.  Always some problem…often simple but hard to find.  Worst is a loose connection…off snd on problem.
Very depressing scene in the Chateau Inn where an old man (in his 50’s)
was sitting alone at a  table talking to himself and  making actions that
seemed to simulate a  man fishing.  An elderly First Nations woman sat
at the next table. also seemed drunk.  She was watching him closely and
eventually joined him at his table as he babbled .  One comment was
“She was such  a tiny woman.”   Whatever that meant only he would
know.  Maybe she knew as well.  Sad.
Note from 2021:   I was 23 years old  when I kept this diary. To me at
that time I described  him as  “an elderly man in his 50’s”.  Today in
2021 I consider a man  in his 50’s as young.  Hell,  our own kids are
in their 50’s.
Friday July  27, 1962
“Who the hell is hammering on the door?”  It was Bill Dunn…cheerful
as usual.   Had a good shower, washed my hair and put my dirty clothes
back  on once more.  We shared Marjorie’s jam and cookies for breakfast.
Spent the morning walking around town and then packed our equipment in
Al Trigg’s truck.   Then bought two little girls ice cream cones…very cute
kids one of  which  belonged to the Gilroys.  Then Bill Scott and I got
into the back of the truck where Bill sat on the seismograph which gave
me a bit of a  worry.
Hans Buka was still not ready for us when we arrived. No tent had
been pitched,  His work team leaves  much to be desired.  Filthy.
Garbage dump is right beside their eating table.  Seem  to be eating
a diet consisting mostly of beans.   Their latrine is non existent which
means the little white patches  here and there are toilet paper markers.
Perhaps I should not mention this.  When we set up a camp  we
designste s latrine spot immediately.
No point in us staying so we came back to the motel with Al.  He told  us how his mom was killed in an avalanche last winter.  Ten miles  by snowshoe at -40 degrees… tragedy made the national  news.
After supper at Luigi’s we joined the Mayo Landing volunteer fire department in a test fire.  Quite amusing.  Two glasses of wine.
Then off to bed reading Generation of Vipers.
expenses   food  $5.50  (saved  some for end of job plan, ate jam instead)
                Insect repellent  $4.35
Saturday  July 28, 1962
We got up at 8, showered and  Bill went down to breakfast while I read.
Hans Buhr picked us up in the Land Rover at 11 a.m. and  drove us to the job site. …60 miles…we stopped en route to look at his D9 bulldozer which was  sinking into a muskeg bog.
Arrived at the camp at 1.10 … disgusted by the filth.  Garbage all around..i.e.
bacon rinds under feet at cook tent…empty food  cans  and broken bottles…and worse  i.e. the little white patches.   Doing mining exploration may sound rough and dirty but really not so  bad.  We have standards.  This linocutting crew did not have standards.  Nothing we could do about it.
We immediately set up our motor generator and  associated equipment…base line cable up the hill (more like s mountain than a hill)     So steep that Andy nearly had a heart attack.  He is a constant worry…really nice guy but his health has been compromised…terrified  of doctors.
After that we had  to set up our own tent and get ready for bed.
Bill and Andy  decided to sleep outside the tent due to the heat.
Days  are unpredictable…hot, cold and freezing.
We had  beans and beeferoni for lunch…same for  supper.  I am  amazed
that their crew has survived he filth.
Tested the equipment then went for a walk and discovered that’
Bill Dunn had  broken into the Wadco Placer miners shed.  I told  him
to get the hell out.  Then watched the grayling jumping in the Creek.
Then had glass Gilbey’s Red Castle tawny Australian wine.   Why did I
keep this  record so precisely…who cares what wine I drank?
Expenses   $5.50
Ordered prints of my pictures for fellows
5 x Dawson Hardware
5 x Red  Feather bar
5 x Old sod covered shack
2 x Al and campsite
2 x Bill at shitter
2 x haircut
2 x Americans
Sunday July 29, 1962
Arose  and had breakfast with whole crew then waited around for vehicle…waited until 1.30…stopped at a placer gold mine site operated  by Gerry Smasniuk (sp?) from Dublin Gulch.
Heard story about an old timer who took his annual bath by walking into Mayo Lake with his bar of soap.
We chased a big brown bear down the road.
George showed us a 7.5 ounce gold nugget he owns.
Visited the Gilroys and had a drink with them.  Patricia and Susan, their
daughters, were  cute and fascinating .  Charming.   Bob got us a vehicle and we drove back to camp at 8 p.m.
Monday July  30, 1962
Had breakfast with Moses Lord and Water Malecky both of whom are legendary Yukoners.   (see note from Aho book on Malecky AND story about Moses Lord)
Then started the motor and left Ed to his trouble shooting examination of our equipment.  He  was a disappointment by creating more troubles than he solved.
We built a log pyramid  to take our cable over Haggart Creek.
Dirk, Wheland, Hugh, Len, and Bud dropped in for a few laughs  and cup of tea.
Bill drove out to Mayo Landing again (60 miles)…no point in me going as well so I remained and had a  nice day of rest.  Spent an hour watching the grayling jumping in Haggart Creek then went to bed but could  not sleep for some reason…either nerves  or lack of exercise.
alan skeoch
Jan. 2021
Tuesday July 31, 1962


Well, I have now reached Episode 224 in my attempt to relieve the terrible stress we are all living through…a double terror really. First is the pandemic which has made our planet and our lives a nightmare from which there seems no escape. Second is the terror instituted by the President of the United States whose malignant narcissism has made one big lie into an insurrection.
I hope these Episodes relieve tension somewhat. My worry is that the Episodes are far too self centred. For that I apologize. I am currently in the middle of my Yukon Diary …events that I found unforgettable. Humourous. Tragic. Human. Historical. Hard to believe really…but that summer of 1962 really happened. I hope you are able to escape into the past as I have done. Vicariously. I am enjoying the recall. Please see the Episodes that way.



alan skeoch
Jan. 2021

Our 1953 Power Wagon…bought or rented just forget which…looks rather
nice here as we consider whether to drive over the rubble blocking the road
up to Keno Hill.  Sadly we did not treat the  Power Wagon well.

“HE  rolled the Power Wagon…rolled on that hairpin turn… the son of a bitch went over  sideways.”
“What … are you kidding?”
“No…rolled over the edge near the hairpin…went over sideways..
“Who was driving?”
“Moses Lord or Bill Dunn…not sure which but the Power Wagon rolled
over and over like a soccer ball.”
“That’s the funny part….the  son of a bitch landed on the bottom part of the fucking hairpin…landed on all four wheels.”
“And  Moses* drove it back to camp…take  a look over here.”

*Not sure who was driving.  As my diary unfolds you will find out.

WHEN we heard that our 1953 Dodge Power  Wagon rolled over on a hairpin turn we were sure it
was a write off.  More concerned that Moses Lord was hurt…maybe dead.  But both Moses and
the Power Wagon were just  shaken up.  Moses was more embarrassed than physically scarred…just
surface cuts and bruises.  

The Power Wagon looks a little worse for wear. Some broken windows…cracked.   A lot 
of dents…sides, roof , fenders…but we  had already done some of those.  And  it was second
hand when and not very pretty when we got it.  It looks prettier than it really was  in the picture.
If I find my bashed up version of the truck I will include it later.

Power  Wagons were built for that kind of thing.  Originally built in World War II as a heavy
duty off road military truck.  Most had half ton bodies…open back.  A few looked like ours.
They were advertised as indestructible and seemed to live up to their name.

This is the same model Power Wagon owned originally by the United States  Navy… restored by a collector.

This is  NOT THE PESO SILVER HAIRPIN CURVE but gives some idea of the mountain  (hill) roads bashed
through by mining companies.  Our power wagon rolled down as far as those two dead trees and landed on
the switchback part of the road.   This picture was  taken in British Columbia on a different job.

And here are a while collection of hairpins…again picture NOT TAKEN IN THE YUKON but the hairpins
looked  much  like this only not so  many.

Somewhere I have  a picture  of the Dodge Power Wagon after the roll…if  found I will include it
in the diary entry.
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This direction finder is located at the top of Keno Hill today…looking over the silver rich McQuesten valley…picture gives some
idea of the topography…in the distance is the Peso Silver property where the Dodge did its tumble.  The grade on the Peso Silver
bush  road  was  not as steep as the previous pictures.  But dangerous all the same.
Here some of the  Peso Silver boys are looking  over the Dodge…with the usual nonplussed expressions.

And here is another  Power Wagon making its way through the bush  where there is no road.

We had one other adventure with the Power Wagon…again amusing.  One of the guys…name forgotten at present…was sent to Mayo
Landing  for food or some such thing.  He got drunk instead and did not get back to camp so we sent a search party down the hill
looking for him.  Found him and the Power Wagon resting in the middle of  Haggart Creek.   The boulder strewn creek was  part of
the road to Peso Silver.  He had  passed out.  I seem to remember that the Power Wagon  was still running but I  could be wrong.
The driver was an  alcoholic.  We knew that and should  never have sent him to Mayo Landing.   Neither he nor the Dodge were hurt.

The incident reminded  me of my first job in the wilderness north west of Chibougamau, northern Quebec, when we sent Joe Fortin
to get food supplies on a  Beaver float plane.  He was not the pilot…that’s for sure.  He arrived  back dead drunk.  So drunk
he nearly fell off the pontoon.  No food.  Just Joe coming back to camp.  That was my first bush  job with Geo Tech Exploration
when I was  a Grade 11 high school student.   I did  not drink back then.  Well, not quite true, I did drink a couple of those tiny
draught glasses of  beer in the Chibougamau Inn.  When Joe staggered off the Beaver I was shocked.   By the time I worked
for Hunting Technical and Exploration Services that shock  had worn off.   We tried to separate the alcoholics  from
the social drinkers.  Sometimes that was not easy to do.   When I was  given a can of Molson’s Export on one occasion 
I wrapped  it in brown paper and mailed it to my dad back in Toronto.  Mom said  dad was touched.  

alan  skeoch
Jan.  2021


EPISODE 222   YUKON DIARY   friday Jul 6 to July 15, 1962

alan  skeoch
Jan.  2021

Note:  Some readers will be irritated by the immaturity of these diary  entries. Juvenile might be a word
used.  Please  remember that these are diary entries.  This is  not a laundromat list.  We  were all 
young men in our 20’s doing very hard work at times and at other times totally relaxing with the
assistance of alcohol…beer for the most part.  Two of the fellows had received  Dear John letters
from girlfriends and were very upset.  I can’t think of anyone who was married. I was closest to being
married,  Marjorie sent boxes of cookies and cake regularly which the boys all enjoyed.  We  really had
some good  times together.  So memorable that they are quite fresh in my mind now 58 years later.
Women were the subject of  some conversation but not much.   Keno City had been the centre
of Yukon prostitution in the 1920’s and1930’s but we were there in the 1960’s and never saw
a  woman in town.  Population now 20 people.  Hardly mentioned.   Bottom  line, we were a  bunch of strangers  suddenly
thrown together.  Young men who decided to make the best of  a very tough job.  Alcohol flowed
freely. That much is true.  My boss, Dr. Paterson, back in Toronto will not be surprised at our antics
since  he life in the bush was similar.  He might be upset at our purchase of a case of beer
on the company dime when the job was  over and we invited all the fellows to our tent.   If  so, he
can send  the bill.  I think a case of beer cost $4.10 in 1962.
Three  or four of  us  rode to Dawson City in the back of this half ton truck in bad weather…goddamned cold.  The trip took more than
three perhaps  four hours, maybe  longer because the Alaska Highway was still gravel…unpaved…making 50 mph seem like speeding.

Friday July 6, 1962

Sure hated to crawl  out of my sleeping bag this morning…to the sound  of
that goddamn gong    Len and I g0t out early as a result but little progress made
because the switch box kept cutting out.  I sent for Bill Scott to make sure the
relay was stayed depressed.   Len  and I only got six lines done…2.2 miles.

The mosquitoes  were fierce.  Water bottles soon emptied  in the heat. And the sun beat down on
us unmercifully 

Five of the lads left tonight for a secret staking project … sounds big.

Saturday, July 7, 1962

Shipment of food arrived  late last night.   we  had a good day and  covered
12 line miles.


Try walking through this dense bush carrying 3 or 40 pounds of sophisticated technology.  Then do it every day for weeks
at a time.  What you cannot see are the bugs…creatures that loved human blood.  What you cannot hear is the language…
@$%#%^ !!!   What you cannot eat is our lunches…cold French Toast with jam, hot tea.

Sunday  July 8, 1962

Looks like rain, smells like  ran, but no rain.  Tried to work but only covered
1 mile before the rain came down.  Soaked to the skin. Returned to camp for a  nice warm lunch
at the cook shack   Slept most of  afternoon until my bed collapsed again
so I turned to letter writing

Supper was great…turkey and  lemon meringue pie.   Traded  stories with
Paddy the cook until 7 when he did the dishes  and I tried to fix my
goddamn bed.

This is our cook at the Peso Silver bush camp preparing a turkey dinner for one supper.  Dessert was lemon Meringue pie.  Not bad
for a camp  with no access road but a rough stream  bed and then a Cat bulldozer.

Monday July 9, 1962

Did 1.28 line miles…finished layout so began coiling cable for the rest of the day
Len drove our Power Wagon through the bush to pick up our equipment…possible
to do that since the land was covered with shrubs and  small trees.  The Power Wagon
loves obstacles. Returned
to camp  exhausted.  Nice supper and  a good wash lifted  my spirits.   Fellows showed
some of our camp slides in the evening.  Some were funny like Paddy nude on
snowshoes,  Dick taking a  crap…sounds silly I know but we got some laughs
and no one hurt.

Got mail  from Marjorie and Dave Spilman who is in Anchorage, Alaska, …he 
invited  me to his wedding in Seattle in six weeks.  Cannot afford  that.
Hugh Naylor is quite upset…crying after receiving a Dear John letter from
his  girlfriend

Tuesday, July 10, 1962

Got crew out early today.  Finished C.L. #5…4,700 line feet.  Pulled  grounding rods
and coiled cable.  Moved to C.L. #6 setting grounding rods.

Kelly has severe stomach problem…nothing we can do about it. .  packed equpment along the ridge.

In the evening I got some lumber to make my packing crate for the artistically
burned logs…used swede saw to shorten much to amusement of  camp.

Wednesday July 11, 1962

Last day in the bush here…10,300 line feet or 2.06 miles. The bugs  were really vicious
today in the oppressive heat.  In the evening I packed up the Turam along with my
Yukon logs.

I carried this log back to camp and plan to ship part of it home.  The growth rings are tiny which means the tree is
ancient.  One immense forest we cut through was filled with these dead trees…killed by a forest fire and preserved.

We bought 24 beers  and  had open house in our tent from 8 p.m.  Boys pleasantly high
so I read  “The Cremation of Sam  McGee” which was fun.  Hugh Naylor opened  a
can  of  beer that had  been shaken…beer all over his face.  Then Hugh and  I
read  “The Spell of the Yukon” in unison…lots of  fun and laughter.

expenses    $4.10  for beer shared with Rio  Plata, Silver Titan and  our own Hunting
Tech Crew…seemed like a business expense.

Thursday  July 12, 1962

Len, Neil and  i reclaimed  cable and packed out to camp the motor generator…heavy.
Packed rest of company equipment in afternoon , had nice last supper in cook shack.
Then 8 of us piled into the GMC half ton truck…5 in the back…and drove to Mayo Landing.
The ride was bloody awful.  Bud and I slipped off twice.   No danger because no speed.
Road is a disaster.  Took 3 hours to get to Mayo
and when we arrived we felt dizzy.  Road terrible.

Signed into the Tim-O-Lou Motel for the night then hit the Chateau  Inn bar.  Whole night
of  celebrating the Glorious  12th of  July with the Northern Irish boys.  The boys  kept
bringing me beer until I was very drunk.  Left the Chateau Inn around 1 a.m. to find
Bill had locked me out of our Motel room.   Met Buddy Rich in front of the Roman Catholic
church drinking a can  of beer.

Then met an old person, crippled, staggering  down the gravel road. Drunk.  Poor fellow also  
had no place to sleep so I carried  him to the Chateau  Inn and placed  him in a chair
for the night.  The bartender, Al,  phoned the Motel manager and  got him to let
me into our room where Bill Scott was asleep.  Drunk and  angry.

Friday, July  13, 1962

The boys from Peso Silver arrived and shook us  out of  bed.  I feel a  little queasy…uneasy.
DAWSON CITY BOUND.  Dressed quickly and jumped  in the back of the Peso silver half ton truck.
Heading to Dawson City for the week end  with Hugh, Dirk, Fred, Ron and Bill…six of us.

Marjorie sent me two parcels one of  which had 2 dozen cookies which we ate immediately.’

Cold drive to Dawson City…dusty road.   Bill and I  signed  into the Occidental Hotel
and the Peso boys unloaded all their gear in our room.  I went to a movie alone while the’boys
all  got tickets for Foxy.   since I had  already seen the play once I was reticent to part
with $5 for a second visit.  The movie was  strange… a western where cowboys killed
Indians.  Odd since the people in the theatre were mostly First Nations people.

Later I joined  the fellows in the Westminster Bar and  did what most people here  seem to
do…drink too much…Bud, Pat, Len and  I had  a  marvellous time laughing and  
carrying on … I woke up sleeping in the bathtub in  our room … all six slept
in the room…most of us  on the floor.  One of the guys crawled  into the room
through the transom above the door.  That much  I remember.   The room was
not very big…about 12 feet by 12 feet.    We laughed a lot and believe it or
not I had a good sleep.

Expenses    Meals $5.50

Robert Service House in Dawson City

Saturday July  14, 1962

Arose early.  No hangover. That was a surprise.  Hugh was as sick  as a poisoned 
dog.  Ron and I wandered  around Dawson for a while much of which  I had already 
seen.   Strange thing was  we talked philosophy…Emanuel Kant’s Categorical
Imperative.  Seemed to fit our shenanigans.  


Dirk informed us we would have to drive back  to Mayo  Landing immediately as
all  were needed  for a new staking project.   Seemed we had just arrived and
then were frantically packing to head back on long road to Mayo in the 
truck.  Piled our bags on top of those of us in back of the truck…goddamn cold.

We did manage to buy a  case of beer, some thick wedges of cheese, some
Spanish Onions and  a  couple of boxes  of  crackers.  Fine dining.  While
driving 160 miles in back of the truck.  Tore the ass  out of my work pants
somehow as  we sifted  along at 60 m.p.h.  Rather exciting if foolish.

We signed back  in at the Tim-O-Lou Motel and then went to
see the movie ‘The Hanging Tree’ at the Oddfellows Hall.   Then Len
asked  us up to his  room for a drink.  His room in the Chateau Inn
was  well stocked with alcohol…whisky vodka, wine.   Len is a
really  pleasant guy.   

I know this entire to Dawson  city  sounds  stupid but we were all
young and foolish  enjoying each others company.   Imagine driving 160
miles  to Dawson City then rushing 160 miles back  to Mayo Landing 
the next day…all in the back  of a half ton truck.  

Expenses.   $5.40 meals

Sunday July 15, 1962

Up  early and  cooked  my breakfast…tinned meat we called Clap, crackers, coffee,
orange juice…from a  lunch I packed up on the Peso Silver job.  Spent the day
resting, reading,  writing letters…and sleeping.   

Supper consisted  of can of sardines, can of pork and beans, crackers, cheese,
tea and  orange juice.   Then visited Pat, Bud and Dinky in Pat’s room.  Beer.
I heard some delightful stories about Dinky’s trap line and the sad  story about
his tribal death from whooping cough.  Dinky told story about fellow who
shot a moose when horns were ‘in velvet stage’ which he ate as you would
a  banana.   Also story about Moose Nose jelly…a delicacy.  Yuck!

DINKY is the last living member of his tribe.  He must mean his family but he says tribe.  We estimated  his age on an
earlier job…most said 21 but Dinky says he is 51 years old.  Nice guy. Quiet until conversations get rolling

See the velvet on the Moose antlers.  Now imagine eating the life a banana.

Then Bud told  story about bear who got in bed with him and a can  of jam.

All  agreed that the danger of atomic  warfare …the bomb…was both
fearful and ridiculous.

Expenses   sardines, pork  and  beans.




Some people who never see the rough side of life think that those living
on the edge  of creation are tough nasty people.  Quite the reverse. Imagine
spending an evening reading poetry and enjoying it. Life is good.

The Cremation of Sam McGee

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
      By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
      That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
      But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
      I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam ’round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he’d often say in his homely way that “he’d sooner live in hell.”

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;
It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
“It’s the cursèd cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet ’tain’t being dead—it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”

A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate those last remains.”

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows— O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May.”
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then “Here,” said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”; … then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
      By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
      That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
      But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
      I cremated Sam McGee.



alan skeoch
jan. 2021

I met Jack Acheson several  times but the most memorable was  the day he gave me
that Mammoth tooth.   It was one of those memorable occasions that get into long
term storage in  my brain.  A bright sunny Yukon day…blue sky.  A good to be alive day.
Jack was  a placer gold miner at the Haggart Creek in Dublin Gulch, Yukon.

Sorry, try to ignore my picture…look behind me…1) bull dozer tree, 2) hydraulic  hose gushing dirty water, 3) piles of overburden
4) and on the right, perhaps, the bedrock where the gold has settled  after millions of years…just sitting there waiting for Jack Acheson


Gold is gold.   There is no difference in the gold.  The difference is where the
gold  is found.  Placer gold  is  loose gold  found trapped  in bedrock ripples
once the overburden is pushed aside and washing happens.  Placer gold was
once Lode gold.  Gold  trapped in rock.  Lode gold  is difficult to separate from 
rock.  Needs  heavy machinery to crush the rock.  Needs rock  drills  and  explosive
to get chunks of rock  to the milling machines.   Dublin Gulch  as it turns out
carried both kinds of gold.  Lots of  placer gold.  And, today, one of the largest
Canadian  gold mines, the Eagle Mine, is  busy extracting Lode gold.


Jack Acheson was the person working Dublin Gulch  in 1962.  There had been many men before him and a couple of women, who
had found  gold  nuggets in the rubble pushed and ground  by  glaciers in the MacQuesten Valley.  Where did the gold come from?
Dr. Aho said it percolated up from the molten magma on the crust of  which we live.


When i met Jack, he  was working a  placer gold deposit on Haggart Creek at the mouth of Dublin
Gulch.  His system was similar to the system  we used when gold planning  earlier.
Only  he did his search  for placer gold on a grand  scale using a bulldozer, drag line,
huge hydraulic pump, and an  immense sluice box  with wooden riffles to catch the
heavy gold as water sluiced over scoop shovels of gravel.

Just to get to this stage.  I mean just to get to the gold bearing gravel, huge mounds 
of overburden had to be cleared…trees, shrubs, boulders, earth…all had to be
removed just to get close to bedrock  where the placer gold rested…if  it indeed
did rest in the particular location chosen.

Thousands of tons of rubble had  to be moved just to find  a  few ounces of  gold.
Occasionally…rarely really…Jack did find big nuggets.   One big one he
carried in his pocket the day I met him.  It was  oblong.  Fitted in the palm  of his
hand.   I dimly seem to remember him saying ‘I keep it as  a knuckle duster in
case of trouble’ but that may be a bit too imaginative.

What I remember clearly, as confirmed by some pictures taken at the time, is the total
devastation of the site.  Just piles and piles of sorted and unsorted gravel.  Boulders rolled aside.
Rocks hand  picked from the sluice box.
A drag line with a huge bucket pulling off the overburden.  A bull dozer pushing
piles  of loose gravel into a great sluice box with a never ending stream of water
being fed  from a flume bringing water from some place higher up.  

And down below, close to the bedrock, Jack had an immense hydraulic hose 
blasting dirty water at the place where he believed  he was  close to the gold
bearing bottom.

Dublin Gulch and Haggart Creek  were just names as far as  I was  concerned.
Since that July day  in  1962 I have discovered that those names were and are
just as  important as  the Klondike in the search for Yukon gold.   

Before Jack brought in his heavy equipment the area had been worked  over
many times  by  earlier placer miners.  A lot of  gold had  been found. But the work
was not easy and the profits were small for the costs were high.  One earlier placer
miner who tried to do the kind of excavation necessary wasted a lot of time
taking little bits of gold dust to sell  at Mayo Landing just to buy diesel oil to
run his  bull dozer.   Eventually losing everything.

Really the stories of Dublin Gulch are stories of dreams  dashed.   A few men
found big chunks like “Jack Acheson’s 7.5 ounce nugget” and another
nugget weighing 8.5 ounces found by Ed Barker.  Most moving however
was the 7 ounce nugget found by Smashnut which nicely fitted into the palm
of his hand. “He told everyone that the depressions in the nugget were the result
of him “clutching it so tightly when he found it”.   A few big nugget  stories were
enough to lure placer miners.   Perhaps the saddest measure of this  trail of
broken hearts were the derelict wagons and machines we found in places where
there were no loner roads or even tracks.  But once, long ago, a  dreamer of
great wealth had carved a road and lugged whatever he could to the site he
had staked using horses and  mules.  98 horses were kept at Keno Hill by
Wernecke for instance until they were replaced by  Holt tracked vehicles.

Aaron Aho writes it best when he  records that these men remain
“only a record in some obscure ledger.  John Suttles, William Portlock, Albert
Jahnke, Fred Gill, John ‘Jack’ Maynard, Clarence Kinsey, Bobby Fisher, the
Cantins ( Frank, Louis, Philias andJoey), Ed Barker and  others less well known
are all gone,  yet the creek seems to whisper their names. It still rings  with the
hopes  of those that are gone, and  hidden in its many bends are the rusted  mining
machines, blacksmith stoves, vehicles, buggies, dog harnesses, sleighs, graders,
tin cans, drill steels, old maps in cabins, and personal objects they left behind.” (Page 62 
Hills  of  Silver)

I would add Jack Acheson to the list.  Hell, why not add my own name…and Bill Scott and Bill Dunn….

“The ruins pop up in the most unlikely places…wrecked ore wagons like this.   But there are living reminders present as well because
some of the horses were turned  loose and thrive in small herds to this day.   The only wilde horses I saw were dating ross  the Mayo
Landing runway but stories of them were often told.

HERE is the kind of damage placer gold  mining does to the land surface.  Look at these piles of gravel.   Yes, they do
still  contain some gold and  modern mining efforts often rework old placer gold fields and  make a profit.

When I began  to write this Episode,  I decided  to check the internet just
in case Jack was mentioned.   He was  not.  Then I thought to check  if
Dr. Aho was mentioned and was startled to discover that Dr. Aaro Aho had written a book
on mining exploration in the Yukon.  His book, Hills of Silver, The Yukon’s Mighty 
Keno  Hill Mine,  was available on
Amazon for $35 and with help I got a copy.  A  wonderful  book for me because
it supports my diary but is more informed  more detailed than anything I have written.
  But reading the book and  writing an Episode per day
is  extremely  difficult (added  to the fact that President Trump has gone 
insane jeopardizing our world and distracting everyone from daily routines.).

So this  Episode 221 could be much longer…should be much longer…but I
cannot do that in a single day   Take what I have written….see the post script
which  shows  what I intended to write.  Sorry.  Maybe more later.’

alan skeoch
Jan. 2021


Thursday July 5, 1962

I met Jack Acheson when I got to back to Mayo…he bought
me a beer in the Chateau Inn.   Nice, but I did not know 
why I deserved some kind  of  special treatment as I had
only been in the  Yukon for little over a month.  He might need
our help at his placer mine.  Seismic help.

Who was Jack Acheson?

He was a placer miner big time.   Earlier you will remember that
we found some high grade sand and gravel in a bunch of
rusty drums.   Following a hunch  we bought two gold pans
…dumped in a couple handful of the barrel concentrate then
carefully swished the pans in Haggart Creek…the lighter sand
and  gravel swished out and the heavier gold specks remained.

Well, Jack and his partners did the same thing only on a
bigger scale.  They bought a bull dozer from the Outfitters 
store in Mayo…with a downpayment and promise to
make payments…just like buying a car.  

Then  they used the dozer and drag line to clear the overburden.  Overburden?
Yes, that term applies to everything above the bed rock….shrubs, soil,
trees, gravel, boulders, mammoth teeth, mammoth tusks…everything.
When they get close to the bedrock they get careful because there 
may be gold sitting down at the bedrock.  Why?  Because gold is
heavier  than the overburden.

Let me put this in dialogue form:

“Jack, you are making one hell of a mess with that dozer…stripping all that overburden.
Searching for gold hardly seems worth that effort.”
“Just the beginning. Sometimes we have to move 30 or 40 feet of overburden with 
the dozer and hose.:’
“Big hydraulic hose blast the loose gravel away when we get the trees and brush
removed.  Power drive hose.. bigger than a fireman hose.   We had to build a 
sluice to get the water from higher up in the Gulch.  Need lost of  water…tons of
it…enough to wash away truckloads of  gravel.   Until we get down to pay dirt…
the heavy  gravel and sand on top of the bed rock.  That’s where the gold is…
gold dust to gold nuggets like this one.:’

“Jack fished our a long gold  nugget from his pants pocket. Weiihs two pounds or more.”
“why carry it in your pocket”
“Just in case some son of a bitch  gets a notion to roll me.  One hits with this
Knuckle duster will get that idea out of his head fast.”

“I had hoped to quote RoBert Service”


A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o’-love, the lady that’s known as Lou.

When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din and the glare,
There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and loaded for bear.
He looked like a man with a foot in the grave and scarcely the strength of a louse,
Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called for drinks for the house.
There was none could place the stranger’s face, though we searched ourselves for a clue;
But we drank his health, and the last to drink was Dangerous Dan McGrew.

There’s men that somehow just grip your eyes, and hold them hard like a spell;
And such was he, and he looked to me like a man who had lived in hell;
With a face most hair, and the dreary stare of a dog whose day is done,
As he watered the green stuff in his glass, and the drops fell one by one.
Then I got to figgering who he was, and wondering what he’d do,
And I turned my head—and there watching him was the lady that’s known as Lou.

His eyes went rubbering round the room, and he seemed in a kind of daze,
Till at last that old piano fell in the way of his wandering gaze.
The rag-time kid was having a drink; there was no one else on the stool,
So the stranger stumbles across the room, and flops down there like a fool.
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then he clutched the keys with his talon hands—my God! but that man could play.

Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful clear,
And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could hear;
With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the cold,
A half-dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad for the muck called gold;
While high overhead, green, yellow and red, the North Lights swept in bars?—
Then you’ve a haunch what the music meant . . . hunger and night and the stars.

And hunger not of the belly kind, that’s banished with bacon and beans,
But the gnawing hunger of lonely men for a home and all that it means;
For a fireside far from the cares that are, four walls and a roof above;
But oh! so cramful of cosy joy, and crowned with a woman’s love—
A woman dearer than all the world, and true as Heaven is true—
(God! how ghastly she looks through her rouge,—the lady that’s known as Lou.)

Then on a sudden the music changed, so soft that you scarce could hear;
But you felt that your life had been looted clean of all that it once held dear;
That someone had stolen the woman you loved; that her love was a devil’s lie;
That your guts were gone, and the best for you was to crawl away and die.
‘Twas the crowning cry of a heart’s despair, and it thrilled you through and through—
“I guess I’ll make it a spread misere,” said Dangerous Dan McGrew.

The music almost died away . . . then it burst like a pent-up flood;
And it seemed to say, “Repay, repay,” and my eyes were blind with blood.
The thought came back of an ancient wrong, and it stung like a frozen lash,
And the lust awoke to kill, to kill . . . then the music stopped with a crash,
And the stranger turned, and his eyes they burned in a most peculiar way;
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then his lips went in in a kind of grin, and he spoke, and his voice was calm,
And “Boys,” says he, “you don’t know me, and none of you care a damn;
But I want to state, and my words are straight, and I’ll bet my poke they’re true,
That one of you is a hound of hell . . . and that one is Dan McGrew.”

Then I ducked my head, and the lights went out, and two guns blazed in the dark,
And a woman screamed, and the lights went up, and two men lay stiff and stark.
Pitched on his head, and pumped full of lead, was Dangerous Dan MGrew,
While the man from the creeks lay clutched to the breast of the lady that’s known as Lou.

These are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I ought to know.
They say that the stranger was crazed with “hooch,” and I’m not denying it’s so.
I’m not so wise as the lawyer guys, but strictly between us two—
The woman that kissed him and—pinched his poke—was the lady that’s known as Lou.


                                                                                                   Government of Canada – McLean, 1914 plate No. 27

Dugald MacLachlan (left) and three other unidentified miners at the entrance of an underground mine dug at Olive in 1914. Today, Olive is encompassed by Victoria Gold’s Dublin Gulch property and is one of the sources of ore for Eagle, the largest gold mine 

ever to operate in Canada’s Yukon Territory.


Dublin Gulch, A History of the Eagle Gold Mine”, Michael Gates Lost Moose



alan skeoch
Jan. 2021

This  is  Jack Acheson.  Every summer he came to Dublin Gulch, YUKON,  and found treasures of various kinds.  He gave me one of his treasures…perhaps
because we both wore similar work clothes.

This is a hairy  Mammoth, related to elephants distantly.  Once upon a time 10,000 years ago they 
wandered across  the Yukon after crossing the Bering land bridge from Asia.   Once  here some of them
met North America’s Mastodons who look similar.   Both of these creatures were common residents
of  North America until  killed by human predators.  They had  big teeth.  Huge tusks.  Jack finds
them every year in Dublin Gulch, at least he did in the 1960’s.

“How would you like this … a gift”, said Jack  Acheson as he leaned against his Cat D6 in Dublin Gulch.
“What is it?”
And he handed me a rock about the size of large can of fruit salad…no, bigger than that.
“Take a guess”
“ A big chunk  of galena…sort of shiny…raw  silver and lead…heavy.”
“Certainly not gold.”
“Look at the layers…clue to what it is.”
“Hard…looks like a stone layer cake… sidewise…many layers.”
“Wrong again.”
“Where  did you get it?”
“Found it right here in Dublin Gulch…found a bunch of them
and other weird stuff…more every year it seems.”
“I Give up. What is it”
“The tooth of a Hairy Mammoth…a molar tooth”
“It is incredible…huge tooth.”

“We find lots of Mammoth teeth…tusks,..bones…right here in Dublin Gulch.”
“I noticed those long curved things leaning against your cabin…”
“Those are the tusks.”
“What do you do with them?”
“Government people from Whitehorse come and get them.”
“How old are they?”
“10,000 to 12, 000 years old…ancient”
“There were mammoths  here in the Yukon?”
“Lots of them I think…herds…whatever term is applied to a bunch of mammoths.”
“Complete skeletons?”
“No…we find piles  of bones…sometimes single tusks…sometimes 
just a tooth like this one I’m giving you.”
“How  come the bones are all mixed up….spread around.”
“Water … flood … there once was a big glacial river here in the McQueen Valley.”
“Yes, glacial ice swept down this valley as well…ripped the hills apart.  You had
lunch  up on Keno Hill I hear…you sat on the edge of  a hanging valley
where the ice  had ripped a great slab of rock…cleaved it.”
“Possible the carcasses of those Mammoths got ground up and the hard
parts  like teeth and tusks were piled in the sediment.”
“And you are giving this tooth to me?”
“You are more interested than many.”
“Are you sure this is a Mammoth tooth and not a  Mastodon  tooth?”
“Absolutely.  Teeth are the easiest way to tell the difference.  This mammoth
is  like a layer cake.   A  mastodon tooth on the other hand  looks like our
teeth…solid with bumps for grinding.   Both kinds  of teeth were for grinding
but mastodons ground up bigger branches while the mammoths were more
ground feeders.  The guys from Whitehorse told me that.”

“Thanks  Jack…wonderful thing to have….”
“Mammoth would have to lose this  tooth somehow.  Mammoths only had two sets
fo teeth. Once they were worn down the mammoths starved to death.”
“Same could  happen to us if there’re no dentists around.”

That is how I got a treasure from the Yukon.  My very own Mammoth tooth.
Gave it a special place in my rucksack  when the Yukon job was over.  A year
later, in the fall of 1963, I  was hired  as a history teacher at Parkdale Collegiate
Institute, west end of Toronto.  The tooth was a great teaching tool in that
first year of teaching.   Not long.  Sometime in the following year I went
to get my mammoth tooth and it was gone.

Some student stole my mammoth tooth!  Or maybe it was one of my
fellow staff members.  Or maybe  one of the caretakers thought it
was  garbage.   Most likely a kid.  I should have put the tooth in a
safe place.

Now here is a question for you to think about.  WHAT WAS JACK ACHESON
DOING  IN  THE YUKON IN 1962?  The answer may be
obvious for most of you.   The next Episode 221 will provide an
interesting answer… even if you guessed correctly.

Bill Dunn and  I did  not see any mammoths when we cooked  our lunch  beside a cliff that hung over this valley.  We did not even know
those huge creatures once wandered around here…did not know until i met Jack Acheson.   And got my mammoth tooth.  Not sure
who has  that tooth now.

alan skeoch
January 2021


The analysis of a mastodon tooth explains further how climate changes in Africa provoked the divergence of humans, chimps and gorillas. Loxodonta=African elephant; Elephas=Asian elephant; Mammuthus=mammoth; Mammut=mastodon

   The analysis of a mastodon tooth explains further how climate changes in Africa provoked the divergence of humans, chimps and gorillas. Loxodonta=African elephant; Elephas=Asian elephant; Mammuthus=mammoth; Mammut=mastodon

Humans and elephants evolved in the same African dry savanna. That’s why elephant fossils offer a clue on the type of environment in which our ancestors lived. An analysis of DNA painstakingly retrieved from an ancient mastodon tooth has further pushed back the time when mammoths split off from elephants. It appears that the mammoths and Asian elephants split about 5.8 to 7.7 million years ago when humans and apes could have shared a common ancestor.

It appears that environmental changes at the time caused a massive period of speciation (species formation) in Africa. “Until recently, scientists believed that humans and chimps last shared a common ancestor about 5 million years ago. But fossil studies and genetic discoveries in recent years have pushed this date back by at least 1 million years.” said Paul Matheus at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, US.

Now, Matheus team employs a mastodon tooth recovered in Alaska to revise the evolutionary history of mammoths and elephants, previously believed to have diverged from each other about 5 million years ago. Mastodons are elephant related animals, with elephant-like build, but with straighter tusks, longer body, longer head, shorter limbs and more primitive teeth. Fossil data showed that mastodons split from elephants about 24 million to 28 million years ago.

The Alaskan mastodon tooth was estimated to be 50,000 to 130,000 years old. The mastodon DNA was extracted from 30 grams of ground tooth. They sequenced the whole mitochondrial DNA of the mastodon, about 16,000 pairs of nucleotid pairs. They were compared with similar DNA sequences from African elephants, Asian elephants and mammoths (mammoths were just hairy species of elephants).

As the fossils showed mastodons split off from elephants about 26 million years ago, the researchers could calculate the rhythm of mutation accumulations in time, called the evolutionary clock. 



alan skeoch
jan. 7, 2021

What  a day that was yesterday…the US Capital  stormed  and  ransacked  by a mob that had
been  incited to violence by the President of the United States.  If this happened in a  fiction
novel  it would  be hard to believe.  But the act was not fiction.  Trump did it.  Does he know
what he is doing?  Has he gone mad?  Hopefully his hand will be kept away from the nuclear codes.

We  need to relax.  So  here are the wonders of  wintertime…no purpose…no story…just
something nice.   We need it…the therapy of snowflakes…cool, refreshing, beautiful.