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An Explorer's Guide to Bennett, British Columbia

A view of Bennett from the White Pass & yukon Route train station. Click to enlarge it.     Bennett (also called Bennett City and Lake Bennett) had a brief life as a community beginning in 1897 when it was an encampment for people headed for the gold fields of the Klondike. There on the shore of Lake Bennett, they would build boats of various types for the next leg of the journey. As Lake Bennett is one of the headwater lakes of the Yukon River, it was possible to float all the way to Dawson City from the head of Lake Bennett. Lake Bennett was named in 1883 by U.S. Army Lt. Frederick Schwatka during his survey of the Yukon River system, after the sponsor of his 1878-81 search for the remains of the Franklin Expedition in the Arctic, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., editor of the New York Herald.

    Most of the people camped at Bennett, over 20,000, left within 2 weeks of the ice breaking on the lake on May 28, 1898. That summer, with thousands of tents gone, the townsite was re-surveyed and the town soon had a much more organized look. Lake Bennett, BC - 1899 postmark While the White Pass & Yukon Route railway was being built, Bennett was an extremely important shipping hub. The first train reached Bennett on July 6, 1899, and freight was then transferred to sternwheelers. With the completion of the railway to Whitehorse on July 29, 1900, though, the town's reason for existing ended. Many buildings were moved to other communities (some by rafting them intact down the lake), others torn down to re-use the wood for building or firewood.

    Now managed by Parks Canada, the Bennett townsite has only one remaining building from the gold rush, and one modern cabin that gets occasional use by a Yukon family. The summer-use railway facilities are adjacent. There are no services beyond a small Parks Canada campground.

Historic Hotels, Roadhouses, Restaurants & Saloons
Lots of information about these early services in Bennett and neighbouring Lindeman.

Walking Tour Map
This large graphic gives an idea of what the town used to look like, and shows the paths to reach some of today's significant sites.

The Bennett Sun
Several copies of the newspaper from May 31, 1899 (Vol. 1, No. 2) until January 20, 1900 (Vol. 1, No. 35) are online.

The Bennett Cemetery
Photos of and information about the cemetery and some of the headstones.

Boat Building at Bennett
A short illustrated article about the reason for Bennett's original settlement.

Bennet City: A Gold Rush Phenomenon
This heavily illustrated 12-page Parks Canada Research Bulletin by David Hems and Peter Nieuwhof was published in May 1994 (pdf, 2.4 MB).

White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR)
A comprehensive guide to the railway that goes through Bennett.

WP&YR - Bennett Camping Adventure
This train trip from Carcross allows for multi-day stays at Bennett.

Exploring Bennett and the Chilkoot Trail
A 3-day historic-research visit via the Bennett Camping Adventure train in July 2013 resulted in a blog post with 69 photos.

Carcross to Bennett on the WP&YR "Washout Special"
Due to a major washout south of Bennett in May 2009, 2 passenger cars were trucked from Skagway to Carcross and the "Washout Special" was initiated. This article has many photos of Bennett.

Chilkoot Trail
The Parks Canada guide to the hike.

Chilkoot Trail, 2009
This photojournal from Murray Lundberg's 3-day hike in July 2009 has over 100 photographs.

Chilkoot Trail, 1998
A trip journal from May 1998, with many photos and links to other resources.

Bennett: A Ghost Town on the Chilkoot Trail
An illustrated article at Destination BC, by Murray Lundberg, describes the history and current ways to reach the site.

Along the White Pass Line, 1950-51
This photo album from Faye Almas includes 6 photos of Bennett.

Tourists Enjoy Bennett Lunch Stop, 1960
An article from the White Pass & Yukon Route's corporate newsletter of August 1960, with a photo of the staff.

F. H. Kilbourne
This steel-hulled sternwheeler was among the boats assembled on the shore of Lake Bennett over the winter of 1897-1898.

Bennett Photo Album
More historic and current photos from Murray Lundberg.

The advertisement below is from the January 20, 1900 edition of the Bennett Sun.
Mr. Falconer was a busy fellow, as he also owned the Bennett Bottling Works.

Click on the aerial photo from Google Maps below to open an interactive map in a new window.
Map of Atlin, BC

Bennett, looking southwest, 1898
Bennett, British Columbia, 1898